Power in Community

By Allie Connell

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Gloria Steinem said, “Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke . . . She will need her sisterhood.”

In 1970, Steinem was the leading voice of the women’s rights movement and since then no one individual has taken up the campaign as vocally, visually and politically as she did. But it was Steinem herself who said that whoever stands up for the rights of women will “need her sisterhood.”

The sisterhood to which Steinem is referring is not a small feminist commune, hiding in the woods of Vermont, plotting to overthrow the patriarchal government. It’s all women, the ones at that commune, the ones who identify as female, the ones who are mothers, daughters, students, alcoholics, dreamers, lovers – you get the picture. If you identify as a woman, you have a VIP pass to this collective that is rising against a male-dominated culture.

In the ’70s, Steinem led the women’s rights movement by giving a voice to a population that felt silenced in both their day-to-day lives and the larger social structure. At the time, women needed someone to speak for them in the public sphere so they could see themselves represented in politics and the media. By beginning this process, Steinem opened the floodgates for women to start speaking for themselves and support women who wanted to do so as well.

If there is to be a“fourth wave of feminism,” it should be characterized by the power of the sisterhood and how it will help us become the women we want to see more of in the world. The greater the number of women who hold leadership positions in grassroots organizations as well as the United States government, the greater the ability for women as a whole to be represented. The more united the collective becomes, the more of a force it is to be reckoned with.

Women are uniting together to create non-profit organizations that support ending violence against women, helping struggling mothers and changing the way that women are portrayed in the media. These organizations and their promotion through social blogging and Internet-based media help women show women what women are doing.

In short, the collective is at its strongest when we are able to see our cause championed by women all over the country and the world. It lets us know that we are not alone and that our voices should not be silenced, but should instead rise to a deafening volume that can’t be ignored.

Allie Connell is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]