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Is it time for the sisterhood to show their true strength?


By Kelly Exeter

Posted on August 5, 2012

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Recently a friend of mine lamented in a blog post that in the business world, while women are great at encouraging from behind (ie encouraging those higher up the ladder than them), they are not so good at doing it from the front. As she says:

“It’s as though once we’ve fought for it, got it, or had some degree of success, we want to hang onto it for dear life. So we cover our copybooks to ensure we stay on top.”

And this really struck a chord with me because it reflects something I have often considered a great irony with regard to my gender. We spend a lot of time demanding the world gives us the same respect and support it gives men, yet we often don’t exhibit this level of respect and support within our own ranks.

The deep dark secret of the sisterhood is that we can be our own worst enemies. Within families and mother’s groups, at school pickups and over coffee we talk behind each other’s backs, we pass judgement and we constantly question each other’s choices.

It is this last one that is so damaging. We hate the media for making us feel bad about the choices we make, but the reality is that often it is women starting the dialogue. And it is women who perpetuate it. We are full of angst for the men who marginalise our fair gender when the reality is that we’re doing a pretty good job of it ourselves.

There is so much strength in our gender and we have so much to offer that I can’t help but get frustrated when I see other women buying into divisive issues by making inflammatory blanket statements. I am as guilty of it as the next person and whenever I catch myself doing it I think “why do we accept this from each other – we should have stamped this out a long time ago!”

So I have decided to throw down a challenge to myself and to the sisterhood. Let’s get behind each other 100%. Let’s celebrate each other’s choices and pay homage to those who went before us – the ones who have given us the privilege of these choices.

Let’s gift each other understanding instead of judgement.

Unconditional support instead of smugness.

Let us say nothing about another woman that we wouldn’t say directly to their face.

Collectively, let us all reach a hand down from a higher rung and help pull each other up.

I firmly believe the day will come when women refuse to be divided and conquered from within and when that day does arrive, why, I believe the world won’t quite know what hit it.

Kelly Exeter is also the owner of  The Smile Collective and each week she creates a new inspirational manifesto for the Smile blog. This week’s manifesto was inspired by the post above and if you click on the image below, you can download the free printable version.

Why not share this?


Kelly Exeter.

Kelly Exeter is a blogger, designer and writer who has contributed to Marie Claire, Mamamia and The Hoopla. She believes that a busy life need not be a stressful life and enjoys the challenges of being mother, wife and person while juggling three businesses and several creative pursuits. She blogs about this and more at A Life Less Frantic.


  • Donna @ Nappydaze

    Bravo Kel *standing ovation* I am 100% with you on this! Let’s celebrate instead of cutting down each others successes. I’ll be adopting this manifesto 🙂

    • Kelly Exeter

      Aw thank you Don!! That makes me so happy!

  • Annaleis Topham

    I love this Kelly! It is so true. I live in a small community and it is very evident here let alone in big business!

    • Kelly Exeter

      I think you need to print it out and put it up on walls everywhere in your small community then Annaleis -you could start a movement!

      • Annaleis Topham

        Definitely planning to share this! Will see how I is received!

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  • Kate

    Fantastic article, something that has impacted me greatly since I had children and in my career before that – its such a shame!

    I take up your challenge and vow to be better myself too.

    Thank you!

    • Kelly Exeter

      Yay Kate! And I love that last bit of your comment – so important!!

  • Jodi Gibson

    We are our own worst enemies it is true. Great manifesto Kelly and one that I will be adopting x

    • Kelly Exeter

      Thank you my lovely. And guess who is on my bedside table tonight for my goodnight read? Been saving it up all week 🙂

  • Jane Copeland

    Just wonderful Kelly.

    • Kelly Exeter

      Thank you 🙂 And thank you for having my words on your site!

  • Natalie McIvor

    amen to that! great post thank you, and the reason I created a womens business network that set this intention from the start. “a place where women would learn to be nice to each other” come on girls support your sisters!
    x Natalie

    • Kelly Exeter

      Gorgeous Natalie! What a lovely business idea!

      • Jane

        Your site looks great Natalie!

  • bigwords

    FABULOUS!!! Love it x

    • Kelly Exeter

      Thanks B 🙂

  • Anna Hill

    You are a wise and generous person Kelly. I find that as a result of these more supportive and encouraging female relationships, little disagreements or differences of opinions are well received. Because they are the exception not the rule they can be given due consideration as opposed to being brushed of as “Oh Anna and her usual nah saying”.

    We all fall off the wagon and this is a great reminder. x

    • Kelly Exeter

      As always you talk good sense my friend 🙂

      • Jane Copeland

        Hear, hear Anna

  • Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    Kel, just imagine if we used all that negative energy to do something positive! I’m always so motivated to read about/meet successful women, it gives me hope.
    Thank you for another gorgeous manifesto. xx

    • Kelly Exeter

      Exactly Lise!! I have benefited so much from the kindness and support of successful women – I just wish there was more of it going on in the world!

      • Jane Copeland

        In Penelope Trunk’s latest post she notes “woman keep other women from getting ahead” and references a study done by Ben-Gurion economist at Bengurian University, who attributes this tendency to our evolutionary goal of competing against other women. I really hope that isn’t the case!

        • Kelly Exeter

          I saw!!

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  • Milagro

    Wow, this piece of writing is fastidious, my younger sister is analyzing these things, therefore I
    am going to let know her.

  • Dick

    Fantastic blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Many thanks!

  • Trent

    Hey so nice blog! Wonderful. Amazing . I’ll bookmark your blog site as well as use the feeds as well. Regards!


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