I’ve been thinking a lot about the complex roles women play in one another’s lives recently. Blogging has catapulted me into an intricate web of relationships with other bloggers, Facebookers, and Tweeters out there, most of them women. They are gradually turning into an indispensable part of my daily life and I look forward to our interactions. The mommy-blog-o-sphere is the ultimate location for validating your place in the world, for finding a commonality of experience. Mommy bloggers will tell you “You are not alone” and that? Is an incredibly valuable thing to know.
But for all the assurances that I am not alone in my experience, it’s sometimes evident that I am alone in my chair and my friends are manifesting as words on Tweetdeck. It’s comfortable and fun to remain in the anonymous shell of the internet and not have to reveal myself entirely to others but it’s also kind of unsatisfying. That’s why I’ve taken myself in hand and tried to overcome my innate fear of being rejected and venture into the places where mom-bloggers meet in real life so that I can shake the hands of women who have inspired, comforted, and entertained me.
One recent event I went to was MomzShare, an amazing periodic gathering of DC area blogger, founded by Lara of Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom and Jenn of Hip As I Wanna Be. They, along with one of my blog idols Jessica of A Parent In Silver Spring hosted the second MomzShare event recently. In addition to being a great party, it was a fundraiser for an American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in honor of WhyMommy at Toddler Planet. Charity, bloggers, and booze! What more could I ask for? How about a life coach? That’s right. Lauree from Simply Leap life-coaching was there to give us a presentation about finding our passions. She asked us to close our eyes and think about what we wanted, maybe out of our lives, maybe out of that evening, and to distill it down to one word. The word that came to me was “fellowship”.
Fellowship. Yes. I want fellowship. I wrote recently about being lonely in my new neighborhood where I don’t know other moms yet. I want fellowship there. And I am seeking fellowship from other bloggers, both in the physical world and the virtual world, because I know that I need other women, other mothers, to give my life extra texture and extra substance. I need the assurance I get from friendships with women who understand implicitly things that no husband, no matter how great, will really get. Women friends understand about cramps and diets and complicated interpersonal interactions at work and the overwhelming love for children differently than men do and there is no price I can put on the value of my female relationships. My mother, sister, friends, and fellow bloggers are my foundation of support. I need all of you. I like to think we need each other.
So, you can imagine how shaken I was after reading Nujood: Age10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui. This is the story of a 10 year-old Yemeni girl given in marriage by her father to a 30 year-old man. He took her from her family to his remote village where he beat and raped her daily until she convinced him to take her back to visit her family from whom she snuck away and went to the courthouse and asked a judge for a divorce.
She did this alone.
This illiterate girl, handed from one man to another without her consent, married at an age when American girls are riding bikes and playing Barbies, found her way clear to seek a divorce in a society where women remain silent. Her story is extraordinary.
I was livid thinking of her mother, sitting silent, while her daughter was essentially sold off as a child bride. I was furious at the mother and sisters of her “husband” for encouraging the beatings and telling Nujood that her life was now as it should be as a wife. I was sickened by the failure of women in Nujood’s life to care for her, to protect her, to be her fellows.
Thankfully, two women did break through and aid Nujood. One was her father’s second wife who put the idea of divorce in her head. The second was a female lawyer who took Nujood under her wing, helped her obtain her divorce and tried to arrange for her future afterwards. After a lifetime of neglect, abuse, and oppression, there were finally women who stood up for this girl child when she needed them but only because she was brave enough to ask. How many other girls have been to scared to ask for help and how many other women have stayed silent rather than fight for them?
I don’t have any good answers for how to solve the problem of the oppression of women and girls the world over. I wish I did. A magic wand would sure come in handy sometimes. What I do know is that I should never be guilty of not speaking up in support of a woman or girl who needs it. I should not stay silent when I could possibly reach out to a woman who is hurting. Maybe this blog can be my outstretched hand, my invitation to others to feel less alone. And I need to walk out my front door and seek out others in the physical world, too. Because we, as women, need one another.
We need fellowship.
Disclosure: I read Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced as part of the SV Moms Group and DC Metro Moms book club. I receivied a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher as part of of my participation.
A) that story gave me goose bumps and made me want to bring Nujood into my home and rock her to sleep at night.
B) I so agree. My sister says women and men were never meant to live together… back in the day there were women tents and men tents… and she still firmly believes that women were better off when other women were taking care of them on a daily basis.
I should do more to find “real” friends in my community… but I’m convinced none will be as cool as you and my other bloggy buds! 🙂
Oddly I was/am going to write about women’s relationships today too. My post is going to be different from yours though I’m afraid.
I want to read that book. The oppression of women fascinates me. There’s another book, I can’t remember the title but I’ll look it up for you. It’s by the author of “The Kite Runner”. It’s fiction but it’s based on true stories from his life in Afghanistan. It’s about two women and their lives as wives in an arranged marriage to the same man. It’s really powerful. I also have a friend who teaches women’s studies in a university and she’s really fascinated by oppression in China, specifically as it relates to women who have children and because of her I find it interesting as well.
Unfortunately I am in the same spot as you. We are in a new neighborhood where we seem to be the youngest family. Even though I’ve lived here all of my life my close friends aren’t here. One is two hours away now, one is almost four hours away, and one just moved to Kingman, AZ and I have NO idea how far that is but it’s FAR!! I cherish my friendships online because it’s so easy to find like minded people online. In the real world the people you meet aren’t necessarily so easy to mesh with. Online you can be selective and because you frequent areas of the net that you find based on your interests and personality it’s just easier.
It is just awful to think that is so common in other parts of the world…Nujood is just one of the many women who need saving.
Makes me feel bad for being annoyed with my job, my hubby throwing the “wrong” clothing in laundry piles, etc.
We here in the United States have so MUCH to be grateful for – it is stunning that you all did this with a fundraising attitude.
Thank you! Inspiring.
I haven’t read the book but I think I may choose it for my book club slot coming up. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
It is stunning to me that women do not respect other women. Even here in the US it is a frequent thing for women to tear one another down for perceived slights. We are each other’s greatest resource.
When you get to Chicago some day, I will be saving a date for you.
I don’t even want to think about Nujood’s sad, sad situation, but I can’t believe her amazing will power to make a change.
On a much lighter note, I think it’s great you found fellowship in the bloggers around you! i wish there were more bloggers near me.
Great post- and so true about friendships and fellowships. I just had a “friend” today tell me that she was hurt by the fact that she felt I was more comfortable expressing myself in my blog then in real life. While I don’t think that is true, it does bring up the issue that the blogosphere and the relationships we make with eachother are very valuable.
I am going to the svmoms meet up on Sunday–and am so excited, but also incredibly nervous to be the newbie in the group.
The book Steph mentions is A Thousand Splendid Suns and it is absolutely one of the most tragic things I have ever read.
Oppression saddens me. Greatly.
It’s hard finding your niche, wear you fit in. When you do, hold on tight. Those relationships will last a lifetime.
And I know you won’t come visit me, now that I have a baby (and by default, a mommy) alligator in my canal, on top of everything else. But maybe you can come to the state line and we can wave at each other 🙂
I’m glad I got to read this article. It would seem we see eye-to-eye on much of this topic. I’m adding this to my favorites.