On Womanhood and Sisterhood

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: needpix.com

I’m in a therapy session trying to feel my femininity while I’m standing on a pink felt cloth. The therapist asks me what this female energy means to me.
“I’m not sure, I think I associate it most with motherhood” I say.
“Are you part of a women’s circle?”
I’ve heard of women’s circles. Places where women come together, share and support one another. I see the image of rituals and dancing in group and long, white dresses. I get uncomfortable about each of these things seperately, let alone all three together.

Yet, as my therapist explains, other women is where you look for your source of female energy, for your femininity. And even though I have many female friends, and love them dearly, we don’t often discuss womanhood together. When it comes to the essence of what it is like to be a woman, when it comes to being 100% comfortable in our own bodies, embracing and sharing that experience together, that’s not something we find easy to share. I’ve heard many women say (and have said myself): “I just feel more comfortable around men, I don’t really know how to form deep connections with other women.

Why is it that sometimes it seems easier to be around men than around women? Is it because their expectations are clearer? Because we feel less put on the spot than we do around other women? Because we can easily pick up a role around them, the role of mother, or sister, or partner, or little girl, whereas with other women there are no clear roles to play. Around other women it’s not about what you do as a woman, but about who you are as a woman.

The closest I have come embracing womanhood is with sisters, friends and as a mother. I have one sister I grew up with, and one who came to us later in life through my brother. I also have some close friends that are like sisters to me. Over the past few months I’ve found that many of those connections have started to deepen, as I’ve learned to be more vulnerable and show more of myself. And in return those women are doing the same and I get to see more and more of the amazing power of that lies within us as women.

As we are starting to feel more comfortable being vulnerable together, I have the strong sense, that our strength as women, our true power, lies somewhere underneath that vulnerability, underneath the ache. It lies in our capacity to hold and endure pain, ours and those of others. It lies in our sensuality, warmth and the softness of our bodies. And it lies in our resolve, creativity, and yes, our connection to other women.

Sisterhood to me is the recognition that as women we are all connected. We all share that same strength and energy, and we should celebrate this together as well as share the hardships.

As a teacher to non-natives, I have quite a few students who come from other cultures, such as the Arabic and Asian culture, where this sisterhood is so much part of the heritage that women grow up embodying it and radiating it out. There are rituals that only involve women (we don’t have any of those anymore, do we?). It’s beautiful, and comforting. And I know it’s something that we, as women in Western culture, would benefit from greatly.

Last week, with my group of women friends whom I’ve known since university, I got a glimpse of what this could be like. We had tea, shared sandwiches and cakes, and put the very content of our hearts on the table. Was it Corona that made the need so strong we couldn’t resort to the normal chit-chat? Or is it the fact that we’ve seen hardships together that makes it so easy to get to the core of things? Either way, we shared so much I could feel my heart grow to twice its size and my love for these women kept growing with it.

I feel this is the beginning of a new journey. A journey to find out what it means to be a woman in all its dimension, what it means to connect to other women and what lies in that connection. I want to celebrate womanhood and sisterhood, as well as hold space for the women around me.

Perhaps it’s time I looked into women’s circles around here.
Or start one of my own…?

4 thoughts on “On Womanhood and Sisterhood

  1. I am glad and honoured to be a part of your journey. I smiled when I read this entry, feeling the exact same myself not so long ago.
    I’d love to be a part of your circle…


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