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Looking back through history, we can see plenty of evidence that women have lived and bonded in a deep sisterhood.
Women have always raised, guided and taught the children, occupying the center of the family’s well-being. We have held a host of roles and jobs. When the men went off to war, we took on the majority of their jobs as well. With accomplishments largely ignored by history books, since men have written history for the most part, women imagined, created and succeeded. Notwithstanding these truths, many of us as women are unaware of our rich history. In time, we will certainly learn more about our true historical triumphs, but in the meantime we must take back our power as women and educate ourselves in regard to our noble history and heritage.
This process, the Baha’i teachings say, has already begun:
The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 2, p. 4.
1. Don’t hate, collaborate!
We must start by remembering we are sisters, not competitors or enemies. Our current society often pits women against women. With few upper management and leadership roles open for women, some women in power hold the women who report to them down, rather than help them get ahead. This is known as the “Queen Bee” syndrome, which often begins in adolescent girls with one girl taking center stage in popularity and power. Researchers postulate that Queen Bee behavior is a way for these women in power to adhere to the status quo of their male counterparts by displaying the supposedly masculine qualities of subjugation. By distancing themselves from other women they are trying to show commitment to their professional roles, hoping to attain job security. We as women should in fact do just the opposite. We must empower each other. We must support one another and never tear another woman down. Our sisterhood is a powerful and precious gift to the world and to future generations.
2. Step out of the box society puts you in.
We can resist societal pressure to play a restrictive role as women. Today’s society places tremendous pressure on women, pressuring us to be strong and intelligent but above all else, beautiful. Women are bombarded with images and messages that tell us we are not good enough. We need to lose weight, look younger and try to be more attractive to “get the guy.”
Throughout our media, at every level, we see images of women being catty, jealous and conniving, all to snag the big prize of a job or a man. We witness some who gossip about other woman, destroying their characters rather than championing them. How can we demand the respect of men when we don’t respect ourselves and each other?
The basic Buddhist stand on the question of equality between the genders is age-old. At the highest tantric levels, at the highest esoteric level, you must respect women: every woman. – Dalai Lama
Erelong the days shall come when the men addressing the women, shall say: “Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlasting glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 183-184.
3. Stand up for each other!
As women we need to start standing up for each other and rejecting behavior that doesn’t reflect our true nature. Women are, by nature, loving, nurturing and all-embracing. We are the peacemakers but we are also strong, courageous and brave. According to the Baha’i teachings, this is our legacy:
The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion… The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis. – Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 102-103.
Let us now lovingly unite as women and support each other. We needn’t be threatened by each other or in competition any longer. With the world in a precarious state, we have no time to waste. Empower and support each woman and girl as if she were yourself—because she is yourself.