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Why Women need a Tribe

By Tanja Taljaard and Azriel Re'Shel on Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

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Why women need a tribe

Is Sisterhood the most powerful force for Women's Health?

Female friendships are just a hop to our sisterhood, and sisterhood can be a very powerful force – Jane Fonda

In ancient times women shared a lot more than they do today. They shared care of their babies, gathered food and cooked together. The women and the children shared their lives intimately, and were a source of strength and comfort to each other on a daily basis. Traditions like the Red Tent, where women came together during menstruation to be together, often with synchronised cycles, were a beautiful time for nurturing, sharing women’s business and keeping each other resilient and happy.

Today, women are a lot more isolated in their own homes and lives and more separate from each other. The opportunities for coming together are much more limited and the time spent together in this way greatly reduced. Because of this women miss the beautiful healing and nourishment that comes from being with other.

Alt text hereRed Tent women’s circle

Creating a Cycle of Nourishment

Women are at the centre of family life, the pillars of a family, providing care for children and often the wider community. Other women fill the emotional gaps in the intimate partnerships women have. They strengthen these relationships, as a support and assurance that one person cannot be everything to you. Being with other women helps you to be a better mother, and the moral support, physical, emotional and mental support and stimulation create a beautiful harmonious environment for children to thrive.

Women are natural nurturers and empathic givers. It is vital for them to receive and be nourished as continual giving out ends in depletion, an increasingly common health problem. Women instinctually know how to nourish each other, and just being with each other is restorative.

Alt text hereWomen instinctively know how to nourish each other

The Power of Female Friendship

The true benefits of friendship are immeasurable. Friends make our lives better and studies show that friendship has a bigger impact on our physical and psychological wellbeing than family relationships [1]

Women share a special bond; they bare their souls to each other, support and encourage one another. The author Louise Bernikow said:

Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other to belong to themselves.

The power of female friendships has also revealed some of its secrets to science. Researchers have found that the hormone oxytocin is, for women especially, the panacea of friendship and, by extension, health.

Alt text hereWomen share a special bond, they bare their souls to each other

How Friendships reduce Stress

A landmark study has found that women respond to stress differently than men. This fact has significant health implications. When people experience stress, the fight or flight response is triggered and releases hormones such as cortisol. Oxytocin – a hormone studied mainly for its role in childbirth – is another hormone that is secreted by both men and women in response to stress. In women, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages them to protect and nurture their children and to gather with other women.

Drs Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor refer to it as the “tend and befriend” pattern [2], and it happens with not only humans, but also the females of many species. When we actually engage in tending or befriending, even more oxytocin is released, further countering stress and calming us down. Until fairly recently many research studies on stress focused on males, Taylor said. “Women were largely excluded in stress research because many researchers believed that monthly fluctuations in hormones created stress responses that varied too widely to be considered statistically valid.”

Alt text hereTending and befriending can reduce stress

Men produce high levels of testosterone when they’re under stress, and according to Dr Klein, it reduces the calming effects of oxytocin. They are therefore more likely to deal with stress with aggression (fight) or withdrawal (flight). A woman on the other hand, produces estrogen that enhances the effects of oxytocin and compels them to seek social support.

Aggression and withdrawal take a physiological toll, whereas friendship brings comfort that diminish the effects of stress. “This difference in seeking social support during stressful periods is the principal way men and women differ in their response to stress, and one of the most basic differences in men’s and women’s behaviour,” Dr Taylor said. This difference alone contributes to the gender difference in longevity.

A 2006 breast cancer study found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend weren’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective. [3]

Alt text hereWomen with close friends are less likely to die from disease

Sisterhood

Jane Fonda, activist and actress says: “Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones. It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.”

Fonda and her close friend Lily Tomlin did a TED talk on the importance of female friendships, and likened women’s friendships to a renewable source of power:

It’s because our friendships – female friendships are just a hop to our sisterhood, and sisterhood can be a very powerful force, to give the world … the things that humans desperately need.

Watch: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

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Words By Tanja Taljaard and Azriel Re'Shel

Originally posted on http://upliftconnect.com/

 

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comments

  • Inspiring, reassuring and a great reason to start my tribal group of artistic women

  • Antero Pantero

    Beautiful article thank you very much <3

  • Rhea Williams

    Great piece, shame the English was a mess. If you open speech marks you must close them, and the word is not ‘instinctually’ but instinctively.

    • Elaine

      Actually “instinctually” is an English word. 🙂 And the pull-quote boxes are designed to have just the beginning quotation mark – if you take a look at all the other articles in this site, you will see that this is their style of design for their pull-quotes. It’s not the fault of the author.

  • Elaine

    Thank you for a beautifully written piece.

  • jackstar72

    A tribe where we have topless group hugs? No thanks.

  • So then y’all are good with the Male Tribe, right…?

  • True Disbeliever

    I have one friend. She lives 3,000 miles away from me.

    Thanks for making my day!

    • babette

      I can relate.

      • MLChadwick

        Me, too.

  • kofybean

    “Men produce high levels of testosterone… therefore more likely to deal with stress with aggression (fight) or withdrawal (flight). A woman on the other hand…”

    The man hate is strong in this place.

    • Maritimer1

      How is stating a physiological FACT, “man hate”?? The IGNORANCE is strong in this post (by kofybean)

      • kofybean

        Cuz it’s not a fact neither is it a causality.

      • Conor Mcvarnock

        – Sounds like biological determinism for gendered behavioural norms to me, a pseudo scientific justification for reinforcing sexist stereotypes. I’d bet whatever studies they’re quoting have been ripped to shreds in the wider academic literature.

  • I have best friends that I’ve been friends with for over 20 years and they definitely bring out the best in me. Thank you for such an inspiring article and video.

    Siobhan
    http://www.befreeproject.com

  • Alan

    To cloister oneself with others away from men often enough will bring an imbalance that must generate it’s opposite to challenge it. And what will be it’s natural & ultimate tendency to manifest? The strengthening of it’s opposite. Hello Donald Trump & Ted Cruz (or possibly something of the likes of Hillary Clinton? As oppose to Elizabeth Warren). We’ve heard about the “we generation”, but how about the “We Gender” where instead of me, me, me, it will be us, us. us along with me, me, me.

    • Maritimer1

      “To cloister oneself with others away from men often enough will bring an imbalance”

      Sure…just keep telling yourself that. Repeating it won’t make it true but it may make you feel better.

    • L G

      I don’t think you are getting this. But, hey, that’s okay. These women are not cloistering themselves away from men. It is a time to share. To listen, to talk, to cry together, to learn new things, to do many things. You know, like grandmas used to do when teaching daughters to cook. Ot the women doing quilting bees. Today, women get together all the time for “girl’s night out”, but that is not always productive when they usually go out to drink and sit and complain. Having time away from the usual is healthy. They are not talking about living in a women’s commune like Amazons…no men allowed. But, hey, even as kids we wanted time alone with our girlfriends and life got in the way of that. Boys make signs “No girl’s allowed”. Do not men do the same things? Game night at the homes of one another? Guy’s night out? Sports teams? Men’s clubs? Hunting outings? Fishing outings with the guys? Working on a car together? Playing cards? It seems men get more of that freedom than women do most of the time, because usually women are stuck home with the kids. I can’t tell you how many times my husband came home and after dinner, he would just tell me he was going to his brother’s or other places and left. Never asked me if I needed a night out or to watch the kids even when I went shopping. Just assumed it was fine to walk out and leave the kids with me! If I went to see my family, or a girlfriend, my kids went with me. Not once did they go with him. It’s not unusual at all for men not to see the point of these things. They have always had their “cloistering”. LOL Now when women see how good it it and how healthy, and simply because it is not typical, men find fault with it, like you. Happily, not all men think your way. And, BTW, when I mentioned this to my husband, he said it never dawned on him. Yep. Because that was and still is most of the time, the way it has always been done. After that, he was more attentive to my needs and until he passed away a few years ago, due to communication and accepting things do not have to always be “that way,” our marriage was a much better one. Sometimes people only think of one side of things because no one shows them the other side!! 🙂 Now you have been showed. What you do with it, is up to you.

  • Carolina Sander

    I have one sisterhood that is powerfully instituted and I am so grateful for this. I am glad we can always find the opportunity to laugh when we want to and and can find fun like this one amazing funny product from fakeababy called the new fake sonogram videos. It is very funny. I know this is best for gags.

  • Lucy8a

    You had me right up tio the video of Jane Fonda.

    Just. Can’t. Associate/Relate. To. TRAITORS.

    • celeste1234

      May I ask what you’re talking about? I clearly missed something.

    • dtroflight

      Jane Fonda may have been opposite a war that should NEVER have happened, but she is NO traitor! She may have not had the appropriate words/deeds to show her disdain for said war, but she’s not a traitor! Maybe she’s learned a better way to express her likes and dislikes? You won’t know because you won’t listen to her.

  • Namrata Sharma

    Interesting..I did not kno there was a red tent culture in the west…In Nepal there Chaupadi culture where when women menstruate, they are put in cowshed… we are trying to abolish this…the girls put in cowsheds no doubt enjoyed each others company but not the discrimination ns ociety imposed on them.

    • Maritimer1

      The red tent is a part of many cultures, including native american. In many cultures it was believed that woman’s powers were heightened during this time and it was a danger to men to expose them to it so the women sequestered in the tent. It’s only a negative thing if you let it BE negative. For many it may have started as a negative but you know, it’s all in what you make of it…..take it and run with it. Make it a time for women to bond, plan, and enjoy the freedom from men and all the work and responsibility that comes from being around them.

      • teacake56

        If it’s what we make of it, how come the men aren’t in the cowshed?

        • Maritimer1

          Cowshed, tent, cabin….they aren’t there because WE don’t want them there. Intelligent women take this as a time to be rid of them. To share with her sisters. But, if you want to be nothing but negative, have at it. Your loss. Those of us in the Sisterhood celebrate ourselves.

  • cheryl

    The older I get, the fewer close friends I have – but I’m ok with that. Don’t know about quoting Jane Fonda tho…I think she’s pretty much proved she’s an idiot.

    • teacake56

      Maybe hanging out with Lily Tomlin will redeme her at last.

    • teacake56

      Maybe hanging out with Lily Tomlin will redeem her at last. If we’re lucky, we keep on learning.

  • Tk Goudie

    Why does this video primarily show pretty white slim able-bodied women in their 20s? Have these assholes looked at a demographic chart? This isn’t Uplifting this is discrimination, racism and ageism all wrapped up in a priviledged white bow

    • Maritimer1

      Wow….nothing like missing the point. Glad you and your anger and negativity are not a part of MY Tribe.

      • Tk Goudie

        Here is the video if you would like to see what I am opposed to http://upliftconnect.com/women-need-tribe-video/

        • Maritimer1

          You missed the entire point….still. If you want to be in a group that is negative, your choice. I choose to celebrate with my sisters.

          • Scarlet63

            Well, and calmly, said! I want to be in your tribe!!!!!
            If they put me in Tk’s tribe, I quit!!!!!!!

    • Anna

      Umm I’m looking at the pictures here and seeing women of all different ages and races…. are we on different pages or something?!

    • QuenticentialQueen

      Maybe zoom in on the photos…its eye opening❤️👑

  • Barbara B.

    Obviously some people missed the point of the article. Can we not have any discussion any more without political overtones? Whether or not she was a traitor depended on what side you were on. She spoke out, maybe not in the most PC method, but she voiced her opinion at a time when most women kept quiet. We have all grown up since then.

  • Barbara B.

    Two books to read, if you are interested: The Red Tent, and a children’s book: The Village of Round and Square Houses.

    • Cathy Dixon Boles

      The Red Tent is an awesome book. I loved it. Haven’t read the other but plan to.

  • Michele61854

    Also the millionth circle, book by jean shinoda bolen

  • Donna Cole

    Can I be a member of the Tribe of Sisterhood….please?

  • 91j

    Misandry.

  • Jesse Douglas

    The photo of the topless women in the forest was actually taken by a friend of mine named “Mauricio Valverde Arce” who lives in Monteverde, Costa Rica. He rarely gets credit for having taken this beautiful photo series so I always want to point authors and readers in his direction.

    His facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/mauricio.v.arce1
    To the authors of this article: Please give him credit for this photo and check his other work out. He is an AMAZING artist.

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