In her 2013 self-directed documentary, Life Is But A Dream, American singer, performer, and international bae Beyoncé Knowles broke imperative feminist ground in the making of this statement:
"I love my husband, but there's nothing like a conversation with a woman who understands you."
This was before Bey had really found her feet as part of the great feminist movement; before she started making crucial statements about the social, political, and economical imbalance that polarises women from men within society; and before she was ever seen standing strong and proud in front of a 100 foot tall, bright pink sign that reads FEMINIST. But still, I feel, this is quite possibly one of the most feminist things she has ever said, or will ever say. And here's why.
If there's one piece of ultimately invaluable advice that I can offer to women and girls of all ages, it is that there is nothing more important in this world than creating and maintaining strong, positive and ebullient friendships with other women. There are many things that I have gained as a result of my identification as a feminist; and whilst the most valuable (I think, anyway) has been that I feel much more comfortable about scratching my genitals in public, or pulling a thong out of my ass in a completely inconspicuous way, the one thing that comes in at a very close second is the indestructible sense of solidarity and sisterhood that I take with me, everywhere I go.
Obviously, I'm politicising a little bit. Putting a bit of a sociological twist on it. But theoretically, as much as it may be feminist in type, it doesn't necessarily have to have a lot to do with feminist theory. Do you remember the last time one of your girls held your hair back so you could puke up Sourz in a grubby nightclub toilet cubicle? Do you remember the last time a complete stranger offered you a tampon when you were flat out, and in a desperate situation? Do you remember the last time a fellow sister offered to let you know that the hem of your skirt was tucked into the bottom of your pants, before you left the bathroom and walked, embarrassingly, into a room full of people who wouldn't dare utter a word to you?
That, girls, is sisterhood.
When you reach your 20's you begin forming those key friendships with other women of a similar age to you; ones you'll take with you as you journey through your drunken mistakes, your bad dates, your trips to the clinic, your turbulent break-ups, and, most importantly; your poor outfit choices; most of which are likely to be documented and used against you as leverage when they're down and out and you need to pick up the bill for coffee this time. These are the women that you wouldn't mind coming in to your bathroom and using the toilet whilst you're in the shower; it doesn't matter after that time you got out of your mind on gin and tonic, got butt-ass naked, and went swimming in the sea at 4 o'clock in the morning, anyway. These are the women you send nudes to for their approval before sending them on to "that guy". These are the women that you drive 10 miles to, in the pouring rain, because they rung you crying at 1 o'clock in the morning; and they never do that. These are the women that know your next move before you've even made it; the women that know you'll come in at 6 o'clock in the morning, even when you tell them you're just going out for a swift drink with a friend. These are the women who go out with you to buy cake as a celebration for when your menstrual cycles finally synced up, after months of living with one another. These are the women that read you cover-to-cover like their favourite book they love to revisit, and each time the pages become fatter as they become made fuller and fuller with your fondest memories. These are the women that think you're a complete and utter twat, but they adore you anyway.
I don't say often enough how much I love my girlfriends. I know that, sometimes, I take them for granted, and I also know that trying to repay them in words doesn't quite make up for all the times they've washed up plates and cups that I used, all those times I came in drunk after work. On a Sunday. When the sun is coming up.
I don't have any female siblings. My cousin, whom I share a birthday with, has lived in Australia since she was very young, and in our adult lives we've only ever really spent about 6 weeks in each other's company; but we're always sending messages back-and-forth online, and I have never felt uncomfortable talking to her or telling her my secrets; perhaps because I know she is a part of my family structure, I know that irrespective of distance in miles or in time or in connection, she will always have a presence in my life.
As a general rule, my family dynamic has always seemed rather complicated. I don't seem to have the same closeness with my family members that some of my other friends do; in fact, it wasn't until I moved out recently that we even started to get on on a basic level. I often wonder if this is why I find it easier and more intimate to maintain this type of familial-replicating bond with my girlfriends, instead.
As a result of this revelation, I decided in interest that I would try and find out, in first hand accounts, what it is like for women with female siblings. Upon staging an open interview with several of my female friends about the importance of the bond that is created between them and their sisters, it seems that the "blood is thicker than water" debate is being strengthened with the evidence that a familial relationship is one that is built on foundations of unconditional love, trust, and an unbridled loyalty that cannot be replicated. I consumed, ultimately, that a feud between sisters is an untameable fire with flames that are stoked with passions and without fear. I learned that as powerful as this flame may be, it will never meet the force required to burn any bridges. I saw that, as this fire submits, there is not one woman who would not walk on the searing remains to meet with her sister if ever she were in need.
Whilst this is something I have never, and will never experience, it is something I will try to emulate within my friendships with other women. To have a support system in the form of another woman, or other women; be they sisters, cousins, or friends, is one that cannot be valued, one that will never expire, and is one that will teach you more about yourself as a woman, than you ever could have learned on your own.