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Sorority: why solidarity among women is so important

Sorority: why solidarity among women is so important

April 16, 2021

Sorority is one of those words that should necessarily appear in any dictionary of feminism. Both she and her derivatives ("good greetings", "sororear", etc.) tell us about an idea: solidarity and cooperation between women. In other words, it is a term that is becoming increasingly popular because individualism among women is losing its followers.

In this article we will see what exactly does that of sorority refer to , and why the word related to feminism and in general the currents of left activism have appeared.

  • Related article: "What is radical feminism?"

What does sorority mean?

One of the aspects that causes more controversy about feminism has to do with its tendency to, with nuances, give preferential treatment to the feminine, the experiences that only women live. From a non-feminist point of view, the concept of sorority reflects just that: a word of recent creation that is striking because it is apparently a way of avoiding the use of a term "fraternity", because it is masculine and refers to the brothers.

But the interesting thing about this choice of words is that it has the power to make us question things. Instead of thinking that the term sorority is part of a strategy to avoid everything that refers to men, it can make us wonder why there are so few words with feminine connotations that apply to all human beings, men and women .

When we say sorority we are making reference not only solidarity among women , but also we take into account the context in which this solidarity occurs. And that context has to do with the discrimination and historical sexism that are given and have been given for millennia through what in feminist theory is known as patriarchy.

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The patriarchal use of language

The fact that "fraternal" comes from "brothers" and that is used indistinctly of the gender of the people to whom it applies can be considered a simple anecdote, something without the greatest political or social importance. Actually, right from the start few people would bother to spend some time thinking about this.

However, it does not stop being strange, if we think about it, that the default word is used interchangeably for male groups or for mixed groups, since this creates situations of ambiguity: when we say "brothers", they are all men or there are also At least one woman in the group?

Simone de Beauvoir, one of the philosophers who laid the foundations of second wave feminism, gave one of the keys to understanding this. She wrote that the meaning of the feminine and the concept of what it is to be a woman is basically what is left over when the human and the masculine are equated. That is, historically, because of a set of unequal power dynamics between man and woman that is known as patriarchy , it is assumed that humanity is equivalent to masculinity, while the feminine is defined as the negation of what is not masculine and, therefore, not human.

Thus, for Beauvoir the reference figure is always a man, and the woman emerges by subtracting him and adding qualities to this "mold". It is what is not masculine, "the other".

For example, some brands offer a line of products that are formed by the women's version of their flagship product, and for that they usually market it playing with the color pink. However, neither the original product can be considered the male version of the product, nor does the color it bears makes it clear that it is for men. Normally the feminine is a subsidiary of the masculine , and sorority is one of the many initiatives that fight against this principle, from language, to influence how we analyze social reality and inequalities between the sexes.

Of course, the idea that modifying language is possible to favor the establishment of equality dynamics has been much debated and criticized, especially from the theoretical positions linked to philosophical materialism, such as Marxism. This is so because it is seen with skepticism, first, that changing the language significantly modify the ideas in the intended sense from the beginning, and second, that the important thing is the change of ideas before there has been a material change in the objective reality in which people live.

Starting from inequality

One of the ideas on which the concept of sorority is based is that women, because they are so, are in a disadvantaged position.That is why they must cooperate to access rights and freedoms that have historically been denied to them.

Such a complicated task it can not be confronted from the individualism , but it needs the joint action of many people, able to break old dynamics of submission: micromachismos, unjust laws, work environments in which women have more difficulties to prosper, etc.

The equivalence between women

As we have seen, the concept of sisterhood is the idea that expresses the importance of cooperation and solidarity between women and men. the awareness of the dehumanization of women . It is understood that, given that the specific problems of women go beyond the individual, they must be addressed not from individualism, but through solidarity among equals.

The word itself, sorority, emphasizes the fact that it only applies to female persons, since "soror" is another way of saying "sister of blood", and at the same time reinforces the idea that women are equal in their disadvantaged situation with men.

Thus, it is not that men are despised, but that it is understood that, since they are not subject to gender, it does not make sense to expect a similar structure of cooperation that is transversal among all men. Such an alliance would have very few goals to achieve, since they have already been achieved from the beginning.

Bibliographic references:

  • Lincoln, B. (2008). Women and public space: construction and exercise of citizenship. Mexico C. F .: Universidad Iberoamericana.
  • Simón Rodríguez, M. E. (2002). Vital democracy: women and men towards full citizenship. Madrid: Narcea.

First Muslim sorority at UT Austin (April 2021).

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