The Practice of Sisterhood (at RWR)
At this past year's RWR, we saw some obvious upticks in diversity, which was really nice to see. Still, there were many voices that were not part of these poignant conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but it’s worth noting the demographics of our particular group.
I think knowing who did and who didn’t show up can provide added context to help our understanding of potential dynamics that were present and missing and push us to further initiatives that engage people from diverse backgrounds and experiences for future retreats.
Photo by Jamie Carle
Although the majority of the people who attended the retreat were white, they all consider themselves allies and are in romantic and/or professional relationships with POC.
The black and brown people in the space, interestingly enough, were mostly white-aligned and all either dating or married to white partners. It’s worth noting that we had immigrant, first generation, and bi-cultural or mixed identities in the group. We were missing first nations people this year. We did, however, have people with indigenous lineage, specifically Latinx mestizes with a strong recognition of, and desire to connect with, their native roots. There was only one black person in the group and no Afro-Latinx representation or other distinctly racially mixed individuals. We had nobody who identifies as Asian, South Asian or East Asian, in the mix. Clearly, there is room for growth. Without these and other voices, the conversation(s) remain limited.
We had multiple attendees identify as non-binary and more queer folx this year than last. We did not have anybody who identifies as trans. We had cis heteronormative and queer partnerships as well as monogamous and polyamorous relationships represented. Bisexuality and pansexuality were also specifically noted. We also had two cis straight men in the group, emerging feminists (as I like to call my wokish brothers) and fabulous supportive husbands who were there for their wedding pro wives.
We also came together across a broad range of experiences surrounding religion, faith, and spirituality. The same is true when it comes to having choice to parenting and body autonomy.
Photo by Ziggy Metzler
Reclaiming our sisterhood
Now, they may exist, but no brotherhoods I know openly supports or even considers variance in gender or sexuality. Nor do I know of any who deeply consider issues of body autonomy and reproductive health and choice. For me, the connotations of brotherhood draw up references of hate groups and revolutionaries that disparage women and the divine feminine.
A sisterhood, on the other hand, includes all genders willing to stand in solidarity to support, protect, and elevate the voices of our more vulnerable siblings.
As a sisterhood, we recognize that being born with female genitalia, being AFAB (assigned female at birth), being a woman, living within or challenging the confines of female gender roles, and expressing feminine traits or behaviors when assumed male can be used against us and make us the target of violent aggression and ongoing subjugation. But not anymore!!! Not if we don’t let it!!
If we’re serious about dismantling the patriarchy, our sisterhood must adopt intersectional feminist practices and that means recognizing the limits of the gender binary and the need to welcome more people into the fold - cis men included (as needed).
Photo by Jamie Carle
Among many other things, WE are a network of empowered manifestors of beautiful things who offer our gifts - our service - with LOVE for PAY.
As feminists, womanists, humanists, we come together seeking to confront the reality of our capitalist patriarchy and find new or different ways of generating business and securing financial abundance for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
As “wokish” people, we face our potential biases and acknowledge that we are all complicit in systemic oppression when we uphold the status quo; so, we choose to use our privilege and work to disrupt it when and where we can.
Of course, we are all adults living in the world today, which means we are grappling with the politics and economics of our now. We are cognizant of our choice to participate and benefit from a multi-billion market that commodifies our relationships and upholds an institution riddled with exclusionary practices and used explicitly to oppress us. And yet, we’re in it looking to change some things - to make things better.
Photo by Diana Ascarrunz
We are entrepreneurs and small business owners who understand that when we offer services, products, and content that affirms different forms of self expression and relationships, we enhance the safety, comfort, and sense of belonging for our more under-represented clients, industry colleagues, and peers; we send a strong public message of allyship through our business practices.
When we are visible and share our personal stories, we model what it could look like to show up and take up space as our most authentic selves; we practice vulnerability, initiate connection, and make space for others to join in.
When we push norms and curb discriminatory or exclusionary norms and standards, we do so as part of our commitment to advocate for ourselves and each other; it’s an exercise in business integrity and human camaraderie! LOVE and, I think, Bell Hooks would agree.
Radical Wed Retreat Vendors and Contributors:
Photographers | Jamie Carle, Zig Metzler, Diana Ascarrunz, and Judson Rappaport Photography Workshop | Radical Wed Retreat Planning & Design | Together Events Florals | Bagels Florals Rentals | Austin Chair and Table Rental Officiants | Let’s Get Married by Marie and Once Upon a Vow Signage & paper goods | Letters and Dust Dresses | Second Summer Bride Draping Installation | Shaniece Aurielle Styling Surface | The Styling Mat Glass Straws | Toma Glass Straws Comida and Cake | Heart of Celebration Suit | Zara Models | Ayla Erdener, Hank Moore, Illyana Bocanegra, Anne-Lise