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April 2nd, 2009


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09:35 am - Sisterhood
My attitude to research findings is determined entirely by whether they chime with my gut feelings or not. My gut feeling is that this research is right, which says that sisters make you happy.

"Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families. However, brothers seemed to have the alternative effect. Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families."

I think our culture consistently denigrates the positive impact that women have on men and on other women, or we are only comfortable talking about women in sexual terms. But actually women are valuable as sisters and as friends, in my opinion. People talk about the brotherhood of man, but the support that women offer as sisters, and in sisterly ways to men and women who aren't strictly family members, is an overlooked heroism.

The research of course can only look at the quantifiable - how many actual sisters one has - and not at the unquantifiable sisterliness one might receive from women whether 'sisters' in fact or not.

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:vilakins
Date:April 2nd, 2009 08:43 am (UTC)
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Not in my case. I could have done without my bullying sister as a child, and her interfering and weird obsessions as an adult. OTOH my brother and I have always got on extremely well because we have so much more in common.
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From:communicator
Date:April 2nd, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
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My feeling is that there is a type of loving support that a woman can offer to other men and women, which is non-sexual, and we can call that 'being sisterly'. Some women who are sisters do not behave sisterly, and some women who are not relatives nevertheless give this loving support. It is harder to count the number of truly sisterly non-relatives (how to distinguish them from other female friends) but I think they are just as valuable.
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From:sallymn
Date:April 2nd, 2009 08:52 am (UTC)
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I have both brothers and sisters and a lot of 'em, and I have to admit that these findings make me as suspicious as the studies that say chocolate is good for your health...

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From:communicator
Date:April 2nd, 2009 08:57 am (UTC)
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I suppose my bottom line is 'If a tonado hit my house I could go and live with my sister'. Not that there are many tornados in Coventry.
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From:vilakins
Date:April 2nd, 2009 09:05 am (UTC)
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See, I couldn't.
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From:mistraltoes
Date:April 2nd, 2009 09:18 am (UTC)
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I could have (when mine was alive), but I'd have never heard the end of it. Everyone else seems to have adored my sister, but to me she was bossy, critical, and rude.

I do have friends that I would call sisterly, though.
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From:vilakins
Date:April 2nd, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
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You have wonderful friends (with equally wonderful nicknames); you're very lucky. Most of my friends are on-line these days.
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From:sallymn
Date:April 2nd, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
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Me too. Pretty much any of them. But then again, my brothers would take me in too...

Mind you, there's one or two sibs I'd find excuses not to live with, but then when you have a large family, that's understandable :)
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From:kerravonsen
Date:April 2nd, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
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I think I'm even more fortunate than most, because I not only have a sister who cares, but both my sister-in-laws are "sisterly".
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From:communicator
Date:April 2nd, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
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I think the crucial question is whether a relationship is sisterly, and the family relationship 'sister' doesn't exactly map onto that, but it's a rough proxy.
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From:kalypso_v
Date:April 2nd, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)
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Supportive female groups, yes. Actual family - I found my brother easier to talk to.

PS And it's his birthday today! And I've got a surprise to give him when I see him on Monday to bury his godmother's ashes!

Edited at 2009-04-02 11:25 am (UTC)
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From:communicator
Date:April 2nd, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
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I would like to have the chance to meet your brother one day, he reminds me of some of the artistic people I have met through poetry - spent some time yesterday with a guy who does art installations.
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From:badgerbag
Date:April 2nd, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
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I think there is social and emotional work that needs doing in families and society and even very small girls are often (but not always) trained to do it. Boys usually don't get that training.
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From:communicator
Date:April 2nd, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
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Yes, and possibly if the work were more valued - because it is valuable I think - there would be more incentive for men and boys in general to put in the time to do it too. To take a bigger share in it at least.
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From:emeraldsedai
Date:April 2nd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
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I've got two sisters, so it would be impossible for me to speak intuitively about a sisterless home or one dominated by brothers. I'm very close to my sisters today.

But this research--and your comments on it--remind me of another study, in which researchers learned that the famous "fight-or-flight response" concept arose from stress research that was done only on men. So they did similar studies on women and found the "tend and befriend response".

Which...gah! So lovely, so valuable, so essential to survival, and so very long in being acknowledged.
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From:communicator
Date:April 2nd, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Very interesting I'm sure I get both of these reactions to conflict. Sometimes to fight, sometimes to befriend. But I don't know how typical that is for a girl.

I find some kinds of computer game frustrating because they don't let you try the strategies you would actually employ in various stressful circumstances. I wonder if that is because they are built for boys. Or because that type of strategy isn't seen as all that interesting.
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From:emeraldsedai
Date:April 2nd, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if that is because they are built for boys. Or because that type of strategy isn't seen as all that interesting.

Both, I would say. Or, alternatively, "There's a difference?"
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From:gair
Date:April 3rd, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Ooh. This makes me think, too, of the research which shows that being married to women is good for men, and that girls do better in single-sex schools. And of the typical girlfriend/boyfriend/female-best-friend triad in romance/chicklit novels (it seems to take the labour of two women to keep a heterosexual relationship afloat). The more women there are keeping you going, the better you do. Which is proof of the awesomeness of women but also makes me come over all separatist.

(Can't resist echoing vilakins and laughing bitterly at this in the light of my own actual family:

Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families.

but I know that's not really the point...)
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From:communicator
Date:April 3rd, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
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I think that the benefit of having a sisterly relationship must be even stronger than indicated by the research, because the results are diluted by the sisters who aren't very sisterly (and the kind friends who are not literal sisters).
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From:glitterboy1
Date:April 4th, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)
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I've been fortunate enough to know, and have close and supportive friendships with, some extraordinary people, and I don't think it's coincidence that the closest of those friendships are all with women. One friend in particular is the sister I would have wished for, and I'm almost unbelievably lucky to have had the chance to meet her in life. Doubtless, one factor in that is my own inclinations (gender, sexual preferences), and there are always exceptions, but I think that there's a lot in what you say.
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From:communicator
Date:April 4th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
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What a lovely thing to say about that person - and your icon reminds me of how I love the friendships between those two, and in Sense and Sensibility too.

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