September 19, 2011

Women need Women

Women need women. I don’t know if it’s the shared complex experiences we encounter in a lifetime or the innate desire to talk about them but we need each other.

As a kid and a youth, I always related more with boys. They were easy going, less dramatic and you always knew where you stood with them. Girls historically have hurt me much deeper with their fair weather friendships and backstabbing gossip, it scarred so much more than rejected love ever did. Perhaps it was the competition of being a girl that made it so hard. Being poorer, worse dressed and taller than most of my peers I felt perhaps, that I couldn’t compete.

That changed when I met a woman my age, in grade ten, who was raised by a woman who was raised by a woman. I don’t mean that in a single parent way, but in a strong female role model way. She was genuine, non-catty, wise and graceful. Competitively I could not compete with her either, not in looks or smarts or athletic ability but somehow we found common ground. She wasn’t like the other girl friends I’ve had because she was a young woman.

I later on just after high school, in my ‘light bulb’ years, realized that this competition of beauty and wealth was a scam, patriarchal society keeping us women apart. A great ploy set out by religion and politics to keep us women in our places, segregating us from each other by training us to size each other up, come up with a hierarchy and treat one another accordingly as either lesser or greater than. Upon that realization I set out to fight the system, I will find equals, real women and make my own tribe. Megan Francis, recently reminded me of the importance of this in her book The Happiest Mom. She dedicated a whole chapter in her 10 step program to making other woman friends as part of becoming a balanced woman. Not just one or two woman friends but a LOT of them on varying levels of friendship, one to serve each need and for you to serve them in return.

Reading books like Anita Diamont’s Red Tent and Ami McKay’s The Birth House, while pregnant with my first child I developed a passion for natural childbirth, midwife care and the history of women as a separate tribe from the men. Women supporting women the way only women who’ve traveled the road of motherhood before are able, either directly or from empathetic distance.

Men have their own tribe of hunters, gatherers and tackling tasks of physical strength and it’s a beautiful thing when members from each tribe unite but there are things about being a woman that no one else can understand.

There is comfort in shared experience. When in crisis management training I was told that to feel normal is often the solution to any personal crisis. To know that someone else has been through or is going through what you’re experiencing helps a person feel like part of this earth when they feel most lost.

In this age of technology and women in mixed roles, these tribe-like relationships with other women outside of our immediate family is not as common. Still you find it hidden in plain sight on Facebook groups and counter culture networks of parents who seek out from their isolation and find the comfort of others in their situation or similar.

Women need women for this reason. The journey from childhood into adolescence, young adulthood, maturity and old age is an epic hormonal roller coaster for a female and the best way to survive it is to bind together with a network of women and find your tribe.

When asked to blog for Kim Anderson’s event tomorrow evening at the Millennium Library for the ThinAir Festival I was beyond motivated. Her book, Life Stages and Native Women: Memory Teachings and Story Medicine, sounded by even the smallest of description, like something I would be greatly interested in. Upon reading only the acknowledgments and the forward of the advanced reading copy, which I was honoured to have, I was already so inspired to write my perspective from a urban culture still clinging to ancient ways.

I can’t wait to meet Kim tomorrow, hear her speak and continue reading her thesis.

- Leah Edmonds, guest blogger


  1. Thanks for writing this Leah! I too struggled with catty friends when I was younger, hung out with more guys than gals and worry that I won't have enough female friends to get me safety through the drama associated with my upcoming mommyhood...
    I'm enjoying what I've read so far on the "Mom Knows Best" Facebook group. Keep up the great work!
    I appreciate you!