Human beings, by our very nature, want to be part of a tribe. Of course, this is idea nothing new or novel. It’s in the annals of every anthropologist including Darwin and Maslow. It’s in our DNA.
The word Tribe has many definitions including “a group of many families or relatives who have the same language, customs and beliefs” or “a group of people having a common character, occupation or interest.” In todays’ digital world, it’s easier than ever to find your tribe.
Men have always been comfortable with the concept of a tribe and seem to believe theirs are something special. The Saturday golfing foursome is a tribe. The basketball team that plays on Thursday nights is a tribe. The poker players who meet once a month to tell tales are a tribe.
In defense of men, I understand how dribbling a basketball, dealing cards or swinging a club together can help you define yourselves and create a sense of belonging. Sociologists have long believed that boys (and thus men) build relationships “side-by-side.” In other words, that their perception of friendship is based largely on doing things and who they do it with.
Women, on the other hand, build relationships face-to-face and – more significantly – heart-to-heart. We have no need to actively do something to create a tribe of like-minded females.
In the words of Brené Brown, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually wired to love, to be loved and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”
Don’t get me wrong. We’re happy to be part of all team-based athletic activities. Never underestimate the bond between the stronger sex (especially when we play doubles tennis).
But women understand each other even without the sports equipment – and even when no words have been spoken.
When women read articles and watch documentaries about hungry children (in third world countries or their own neighborhoods), they immediately connect mentally, emotionally and soulfully to become part of the solution. There is no need for a formal invitation to join the cause. We’re in.
When we hear debates or campaign speeches insisting on equal opportunity and equal pay for women, we not only become part of the dialogue but find paths in our own companies to push this forward.
Women identify equally with intelligent, successful counterparts and with young, fragile girls on issues as varied but pervasive as domestic violence, body shaming and eating disorders. We know, firsthand, that a kind word and an honest compliment literally change the brain waves and open the door to positive personal assessment.
And, as Christine Dohrmann pointed out in her Going All In blog for 360Women, women lead the way in volunteering and donating to organizations that support our healthcare and community concerns – without an email introduction or a texted invite.
In short, women are joiners, women are a community, women as a whole are a tribe. Best of all, this club of women supporting women is easy to join, offers free membership and exacts no monthly dues.
You already belong. We’re already a club. All you need to do is raise your hand and say “I’m here.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa