The Sisterhood Call

By Favour Chiagozie Ebubechukwu
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It's no news that the terms: 'amebo", "jealousy", "busybody", "ashawo", "husband snatcher", and some other derogatory words are being directed or associated with women in Nigeria. Funnily enough, these are terms used mainly by women themselves against one another. It has become rampant and alarming in the sisterhood (women deriving pleasure in the public disgrace or downfall of their fellow women; women tearing down one another for trivial things; and so on). Hence, the questions:

Are we not supposed to understand one another's pain better, since we are same gender, and have similar/connected experiences in life? Ought not we know better, the sexual challenges each and every one of us face and be committed to supporting one another? Don't we feel similar pain that comes from women maturation (developing breasts, menstrual cramps and its mood swings, peer pressure, societal pressure, and so on)? Don't we share similar feeling of joy when some significant things happen in our lives? Don't we have similar emotional desires to be loved, appreciated, have a romantic engagement, or an admirable home? Don't we have similar needs to be heard, become someone in life making an impact, not hungry, instead, living fine in our various fields? Don't we have similar sexual needs to be listened to, paid attention to, understood and satisfied without being seen as needy and promiscuous respectively? Do we not all have similarities in the liking of the sincere compliments from others on our dressing, hair-do, footwear and so on? Do we not all, at some point, feel that emotional confusion that comes in different aspects of our lives (family, children, career, parents, friends, relationship, etc)? Do we not all face similar financial challenge?

From the women in the low class or middle class, to the women in the high class; from the older women to the younger women, and to the girls; from the unsophisticated women to the sophisticated ones; from the pepper sellers(women) to the bank managers(women); from the uneducated to the educated ones; from the so called "loose women" to the so called "chaste or virtuous women"; I think, it is about time we all understood that we need the Sisterhood love, regardless of our varieties, with the understanding that we are common at being humans and women basically.

It is not normal to tear down our fellow sisters for any reason. Buttressing this statement, it is not normal to call our fellow sisters derogatory names to shine. It is not normal to call a sister "loose" to insinuate that we are supposedly "tight" or the conventional "chaste" and "virtuous". It is not normal to glory in the sexual assault of any of our sisters with the backings of "serves her right"; "she no dey stay one place"; "when she no go dress like a normal human being"; "when she be ashawo nko?"; "she wey feel say na she dress pass everybody"; "as a husband snatcher, she don get wetin she deserve"; "this one na hole"; "upon na she pray pass"; "upon she carry book for head"; "upon everything she get, no husband"; "she dey feel say na she dress pass, meanwhile, na Yaba she dey wear"; "when she grow, she go face the same problem na, shebi all of us na woman? she go see(common with older women's interaction with younger women)"; and all sorts of dirty and derogatory talks.

Instead, it is normal in the sisterhood to find a sincere compliment to give to one another. It is normal in the sisterhood to understand the plight of our supposed "loose" sisters, and not judge; instead, dwell in the sisterhood space of pure and sincere love towards them— the ability to see them as sisters. It is normal for older sisters not to feel embittered towards the younger ones, but, embrace, enjoy some youthful vibes from the young ones which make it fun. It is normal for the younger sisters to respect the older sisters graciously and not tag them: faded flowers, old cargo, "out of market", and some other words to denote that they are insignificant or not needed. It is normal for the younger sisters to listen to the experiences and advice of the older ones without bias, discrimination or judgement; even though we disagree sometimes with their views. It is normal for the older sisters to understand the challenges of the younger ones, listen to them without judgement and advise with love. It is normal in the sisterhood to listen to ourselves without judgement. It is normal in the sisterhood to choose not to abuse our sisters who have their nakedness or sexual parts publicized on social media for whatever reason; instead caution the abuse and stigmatization of our sisters. It is normal in the sisterhood to appreciate one another's different body types, skin colour, hair, and not try to conform them to what we think is the ideal thing. It is normal in the sisterhood to render help to a sister who contracts an infection in the pubic area, without the derogatory talks of her being a hole, prostitute or something she's not. It is normal in the sisterhood to help a sister with a pad, a cloth, a scarf, and not see her as unclean, unsophisticated, careless or something she's not, simply because she got stained publicly. It is normal in the sisterhood to appreciate sincerely a sister's makeup, dressing, smile, looks, whatever and even ask for tips to do same if you desire so. It is normal in the sisterhood to feel excited at great happenings in a sister's life and not announce biased thoughts like: "na yansh or ashawo she take get there; she get body odour, na packaging cover all these things". Come on. Words will fail me to talk about the sisterhood love exhibited by the Late Ibiduni-Ajayi Ighodalo, who knowing most of the pain associated with womanhood in Nigeria, helped women with the in vitro fertility treatment, to made it possible for them to experience the joy of having babies— an experience most Nigerian sisters look forward to. Despite not having herself, after failing at 11 attempts, she made it happen for the sisters. How she upheld unmarried ladies who were faced with family, peer, societal and biological pressure; how she made some ladies' dream weddings come through without seeing them as unreasonable or "ojukokoro". How she helped lots of women in financial need; supported with words of encouragement and prayers (May her loving soul rest in peace). Words will fall me to talk of the sisters like: Pastor Awosika, TFD, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Pastor Nike Adeyemi, Tope Mark Odigie, Morayo Afolabi Brown, Ms Bunmi Adeniba, Ms Alabi Oyinkansola, and other sisters who uphold fellows with their words of hope and encouragement; who help sisters stand tall in the midst of societal pressure or internal problems; who made it necessary to help the supposed prostitute in their capacity; who give funds and grants to sisters in business; who talks about having the sisters' choices respected and treated with fairness and equity in the country; who teach the younger women not to conform to society's pressure to just marry the one they see for the sake of acceptance; and lots more.

If more sisters in our country, Nigeria, can embrace the sisterhood love in our various communities, wherever we find ourselves, there will be great support, light, love, healing, that will spring up.

Let's stop the body shaming, beefings, arrogance and join the league of the sisters who embrace the sisterhood which is the only league— the league of love. It might interest us to understand that we do not hate one another. It is our fears and insecurities that cloud our minds in dealing with our sisters, as the opposite of love is not hatred, but fear. We should choose support over downgrade; we should choose love over fear; we should choose kind words over harsh or hurtful, derogatory ones; we should choose appreciation over abuse; we should choose help over mockery; we should choose empathy over indifference.

Let's love. Let's care. Let's give warmth to one another. Let's support one another, because THE SISTERHOOD MATTERS.