If Mickey Guyton hasn’t been on your country music radar, the release of her latest single “Sister” might grab your attention. With powerful vocals and even more stirring lyrics, “Sister” encapsulates the powerful healing and strength found in the best female relationships.
As the song begins:
I know it's hard being strong / And not getting lost in a man's world / It's gonna try to break you down / But you gotta not give a damn girl / Yeah, it makes you jaded / Yeah, it makes you tough / When it knocks us down / We gotta pick each other up
In recent years, maxims like “collaboration over competition,” “women work, girls gossip,” and “when another woman succeeds, we all win” are signs of a strengthening alliance among women. Decades of breaking the next glass ceiling so women can vote, be educated, work, lead, and, yes, even raise a family and work at the same time, have for some time divided women.
“The male-dominated workplace sets women up to compete due to increased scrutiny and a scarcity of top leadership positions for women,” writes Bonnie Marcus, an executive coach, author, and international speaker. “The psychosocial factors along with the workplace culture together create female rivalry at its nastiest!” she continues.
While we have been in it together to fight for our equality and rights in society, a new generation of women is saying good riddance to the competition that accompanied that fight. But beyond supporting each other at work, we’re seeing that solidarity among women is more needed than ever in our sometimes technologically isolated, frequently polarized, and often beleaguered culture.
In a catchy tune, Guyton speaks to the need for support from a female friend or sister in some of the most vulnerable moments of a woman’s life.
Sister / I got your back on the long-drunk stumble home
In what is perhaps the most vividly relatable line of the chorus, listeners can probably see or imagine the scene Guyton is describing in their own lives. What may start as an innocent evening of fun and “letting loose” on the town turns into emotional coping and drinking away the shame we can’t seem to articulate to one another sober. Shame because adult life seems to demand more than you can give or figure out on your own, and the inadequacy is crippling you. Shame because you’re reeling in false narratives you’ve come to believe about ourselves and the world. Or perhaps the shame that comes when some trauma is stifling your sense of self.
Oh, the relief and even healing we feel when a good friend gets us home safe and checks in on us the next morning. It doesn’t undo whatever it was that led us down that path that evening, but it can be a start.
Sister / I'll be your hell yeah, when all you ever heard was no
The refrain of no can crumple a woman’s spirit, like . . .
When that first, second, or third date didn’t turn into a meet-cute, happily ever after . . . again.
When you’re passed over for the promotion you’ve been working for.
When that pregnancy test is negative.
When your child’s terrible twos (or insert any age!) threaten to break your belief you’re managing this motherhood gig well.
At these moments of resounding no, we all need that “hell yeah” from a trusted friend or sister, saying “you’ve got this,” “you’re beautiful,” “you’re a good mom,” or simply “yes, this sucks.” Because sometimes the greater wound is not the offending party—like the man, our boss, or our ovaries—rather, it’s the fear our true selves will remain unseen and uncared for by others.
A sisterhood promises no woman or wound will go unseen, Guyton sings:
I'm your speed dial call, I'm your late-night cry / I'm your shotgun seat / Yeah, I'm your ride or die / Sister / You're gonna hurt but you ain't gotta hurt alone
Who’s on your speed dial, and who has you on speed dial? We shouldn’t let each other suffer alone in these tragedies of our lives. Researchers have found the tendency to “tend and befriend” each other is a behavior pattern specific to women. “The more dire the circumstances, the deeper [our] networks grow,” writes Margaret Brady, reporting for Verily.
But far from being an enabler in our moments of drunkenness or self-pity, our closest female friendships inspire us to be better women. Guyton captures this, too.
Tell me the cold hard truth / A little white lie when I need it / Yeah, sometimes we fight / Call each other out / It don't matter 'cause we know that's what it's all about
For some of us, we’ll be able to text Mickey Guyton’s song to half a dozen female friends, including our own sisters saying, “This is us!” (special thanks to my own sister who sent me this song first). For others, it’s an encouragement that even if we haven’t experienced a sisterhood quite as warm as this yet, perhaps the tide is still turning, and the solidarity of women will touch us one day as well—and until then, maybe we should take the first step. Wherever we are in our journeys of sisterhood, for all of us “Sister” is a motivator to be that woman who has another woman’s back, is her speed dial call, late-night cry, and her ride or die.