I was watching an interview with of one my inspiring female leaders, Michelle Obama where she slams women who voted for Trump and asking women ‘What’s going on in our heads? We’re still at that stage where we’re trying to figure out what it means to be women. What we think of each other. In light of this last election, I’m concerned about us as women. How we let that happen. When the most qualified person running was a woman and look what we did instead. That says something about where we are.
Because if we, as women, are still suspicious of one another, if we still have this crazy, crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men, if we’re still not comfortable with the notion that a woman could be our president, compared to what? It is frustrating to see a lot of men blow it and win.
Michelle Obama is officially addressing a subject very dear to my/our heart and which is at the core of our female evolution: Sisterhood.
From gender research we found it that “60% of women feel suspicious and nervous around other women”.
That’s pretty worrying, isn’t it?
During all these years of teaching gender studies, dancing and working with women, I realized that mistrust among women is quite high, and that women often don’t know clearly the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of Sisterhood. And I realized how lucky I was to have received that knowledge from my feminine lineage in North Africa.
So why do we feel uncomfortable, intimidated or distrustful around other women? How to feel comfortable, playful, encouraging and supportive among women?
One of my biggest sisterhood wounds was the ‘betrayal’ by a sister with who I was in business. That really, really, did hurt. I practiced a lot my dance to heal the wounds and gain my faith again in women. From this long dance process, I created the ‘Sisterhood Matrix’ for our dance which gives women a great road map enhance the ‘Women’s League’ with a great ‘Female Team Spirit’ .
But before exploring the ‘Sisterhood Matrix’ allow me to share with you some gender studies research about the main points that undermine sisterhood:
1. ‘Disloyal competition’ among women, Artemis Goddess of Sisterhood
Women are actually less competitive than men out in the world and less comfortable being competitive. Healthy competition and confidence are encouraged in boys but often seen as ‘unfeminine’ and ‘negative’ traits in girls. Team spirit and friendship provide a feeling of ‘brotherhood’, the glue that strengthens and bonds men when competition prevails.
When women compete, especially among each other, they don’t know how to compete in a healthy way. When they are out of balance, they compete from their Artemis shadows with ‘unhealthy competition’ and ‘rejection of women’.
But competition does not have to be dangerous or hurtful, it can be motivating and allow for healthy sublimation of aggression. Sports and dance work well for this. The dynamic Artemis Divine9Dance is a great tool to develop healthy competition among women! (There is a free video Divine9Dance® of Sisterhood about this! More below)
2. Envy, Aphrodite Goddess of Beauty
Some of the Lights of Aphrodite is her Beauty and of Artemis is her Focus. When women are out of balance (because of pain related to shame, guilt, fear, anger), their Aphrodite’s light (love for beauty) becomes shadow: vanity.
When we are not in balance, our Artemis capacity to focus on a goal becomes an obsessive/compulsive behavior.
The combination of Artemis- Aphrodite shadows (focus and obsession with beauty, looks) creates amongst women the ‘Snow White’s Step-mother Syndrome”. Hidden feelings of envy and desire for the other to fail – laced with guilt and shame – undermine the sisterhood spirit.
3. Jealousy, Hera Goddess of Sacred Marriage
A good example of this is when women whose husbands have had an affair blame the other woman more than they blame their spouse, holding the other woman more accountable – and seeing men as helpless in the grips of a desirable woman.
When we are in our Hera shadows we mistrust other women, especially when around our man/men. And this applies in general to the attitude of being suspicious about women and indulgent about men. What Michelle Obama describes as “we, as women, are still suspicious of one another, we still have this crazy, crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men” That’s the Hera Shadows.
4. Anger & Aggression, Artemis & Athena, Testosterone Goddesses
Being able to experience and utilize anger and aggression in a constructive way is different from acting them out in hurtful ways. Autonomy cannot be achieved when actions are based on fear, and without the self-protective capacity to experience anger and aggression, which are part of drive.
The Athena-Artemis Divine9Dance is the perfect combination to enhance our testosterone level and create a sisterhood drive to achieve together what we want in life. This powerful dance helps us to not be frightened of aggression in ourselves or other women. It’s a creative ‘testosterone dance’ that shows us, in a fun way, how to feel comfortable with our own (and other women’s) drive and power, without feeling threatened or worrying that our own success will hurt them.
5. Passive-Aggressive: Demeter, Oxytocin Goddess
Another harmful combination for sisterhood is the Artemis-Demeter shadows. Artemis lights are assertiveness and courage, Demeter’s her empathy and caring. When Artemis is out of balance, she becomes aggressive and brutal; while Demeter becomes Mrs. Doormat, apathic/passive and cruel. The combination of their shadows create passive-aggressive behaviors that make women insecure and victimized (passive) or ‘catty’ and ‘bitchy’ (aggressive) among each other.
A healthy balance of competition (Artemis) and compassion (Demeter) means allowing oneself to do well and embrace a positive feeling of empowerment and strength while at the same time caring about friends’ feelings and supporting them in their own growth.
6. Overprotective: Demeter, Goddess Mother
Another shadow of Demeter is her ‘over-mothering’. When you succumb to an instinctive pressure to protect your ‘insecure’ and ‘victimized’ girlfriend (especially when she is in her Persephone shadow: insecure and victim). You may experience your own success as hurtful to your friend and sabotage yourself to not become the object of envy and resentment of your girlfriend/other women.
Taking responsibility for a friend’s feelings is different from being caring and empathic. Being over-protective at the expense of one self weakens relationships by leading to a hidden sense of burden and resentment, passive aggressive behavior, or withdrawal.
7. Pleasing: Persephone, The Goddess Child
Women often take care of people emotionally and rely on the approval of others to feel good about themselves. Women’s fear of triumph over others may lead to keeping themselves small and down (consciously or unconsciously). We keep ourselves, and our girlfriends ‘small’. The sisterhood becomes a place where we shrink together instead of shining together or even… shining alone!
Dependency on other women and over-focus on others’ approval (shadows Persephone) makes us endure the frustration of being unable to fulfill our true potential in terms of ambition, sexuality and power.
When we don’t connect and express our own strength and power, we develop the mistrust of the power of other women. Discomfort with our own power can make us inhibit ourselves to protect a female friend, and feeling mistrustful and helpless in the face of another woman’s perceived destructive power.
We practice here the Persephone Divine9Dance to allow ourselves to be separate and autonomous and still maintain close connections with other women. An example of this is giving oneself permission to dance the Happy Divine9Dance while, at the same time, other women dance the Sad Divine9Dance.
With the Divine9Dance® of Sisterhood, we dance to manage and heal our sisterhood pain/shadows: our envy, jealousy, insecurities and victimhood. And we dance to transform these into gain/lights: caring, empathy, joy, power; to enjoy each other’s achievements and successes. There is no better ‘glue’ for the sisterhood than dancing together the Divine9Dance® to shine and celebrate our successes!
To your success, because your success is my success!
With LLL (Love, Light & Laughter)
PS 1. I will soon release a Divine9Dance® of Sisterhood! Stay tuned! And please share your thoughts with me about this.
PS 2. And if you want to experience LIVE the Divine9Dance® of Sisterhood, join me at my Bootcamp 21-22 July in Amsterdam.
PS 3. And if you need a deeper experience, then join me at the Divine9Dance one week intensive 23-29 July in Amsterdam or 21-28 October in Tunisia.