Monday, March 12, 2012
Code of the Sisterhood
When was the last time you faced abject humiliation? Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction, or smiled blithely at all and sundry, oblivious to the spinach stuck between your teeth or the fact that your skirt was tucked into your tights? Did you wonder how many people had been aware of this mortifying situation during the past three hours but hadn't said a thing?
Which brings me to International Woman's Day, - whoo hoo, big deal most of us might say. A single space of twenty four hours meant to focus on who and what we are as women, our achievements, the inequality issues that still plague females globally, and the grinding poverty & lack of education that many of our gender still face. The same old media stories are rolled out infinitum - just rehashed snapshot vignettes that are put away until next year. All worthy stories, but hardly illustrative of how we function as a global sisterhood.
Now at the risk of sounding 'naff', many of you will be aware that there is an unspoken code, sometimes (hopefully) taught by mothers to their daughters about decency to another girl. It's the Code of the Sisterhood, where we females should be duty bound to come to the aid of another female should the need arise. It's not about life threatening situations, but it is about saving someone else from public embarrassment.
I've instilled it in my two girls, but never really had it come into play towards myself with anyone other than close friends, until International Women's Day last week. It had already been a hell of a day. After a dawn wakeup, and a morning so crammed with multi-tasking I must have resembled a demented octopus as I packed school lunches, combed out my wet hair, shaved my legs, answered four emails from another time zone, dressed, checked in online, cajoled sleeping children out of bed and into school uniforms, made breakfast, located shin guards for the youngest, applied makeup and medicated the dog, before scrambling into a taxi and tumbling onto a plane which had brought me north through turbulent air pockets and thunderstorms for what was meant to be a big career day for me. Capital C, capital D.
Standing next to the baggage carousel at Sydney Airport awaiting my suitcase full of the accoutrements needed for a major photo-shoot (shoes, magic knickers, jewellery, makeup, clothing) to mark my elevation to weekly columnist for a national magazine – (Sunday Life Magazine – Sun Herald/ Sunday Age newspapers from March 25th – sorry for the promo, but I have to get my readership up somehow), and running screamingly late, I felt a tugging on my hem.
I spun round to find a fellow passenger, an elegantly dressed Japanese woman accompanied by her adult daughter, and with a chauffeur hovering close by, attempting to remove what they had believed to be a price tag from the bottom of my attire. Sadly, and for what I took to be my would be rescuers horror, it was not an errant swing tag, but the actual label of my skirt, for in in my rush, I had managed to wear this garment upside down AND inside out. What I had viewed as a cunningly put together outfit, consisting of long pencil skirt, low cut camisole and waspish waisted jacket that would cut the mustard with the venerated Fashion Editor and Art Director I was due to meet in five minutes, was in fact, an unmitigated disaster. To make matters worse, I’d even sashayed a little through the terminal as I was pretty confident that the double pair of Spanx I was wearing had worked wonders.
But therein lies the lesson and the saving grace – my new found Japanese sisters had activated the ‘Code’ and attempted a ‘dignity salvage’ undaunted by language barriers or lack of formal introductions – they had ploughed in to pluck me from the jaws of ridicule with generosity and delicacy. Much pantomiming resulted, accompanied by discrete giggles and bowing as my rushed morning was explained. I left the terminal with my inside out skirt un-righted, but my shoulders back, my head held high and a huge smile on my face because we women can be truly international in our empathy and kindness towards each other – no matter the day.
Have you passed on the Code of the Sisterhood lately?