So, sister, there’s been some talk about my talk. I *can* call you sister, can’t I?

Have a look at this:

—Where are we going then?

—Brothers, brothers…

—I ain’t your brother, a woman shouts.

—All right bloody hell sisters then, and everyone is laughing.
 -from Iron Council by China Mieville

Iron Council is one of those books that I can just read and re-read, and it never suffers for it. It has trains, and remade people, and union politics, and golems, and sex workers, and civil rights, and magic, and it’s a fucking artful piece of writing. But all that aside, it’s the interaction in that quote that stays with me beyond the entire adventure, more than anything else at all.

Shall we talk about sisterhood a moment without getting granola? I mean, I’m sure that at least half the people reading this are expecting granola. I can get granola with you, if you want – personally, I’m down with the notion of sisterhood and the hippie magic associated with it. I have no shame around that stuff, ‘cos there’s nothing to get shameful about. But the hippie magic isn’t where I’m going when I call you sister.

Look – spend any time on the web, and you’re a bro by accident. You do something right and you get a, “cool, bro.” You do something wrong and you get a slew of profanities followed by, “bro.” You get into it with someone and it gets resolved, and you get an, “It’s all cool, bro.” You tell your truth and it’s, “Cool story, bro.” And then heaven forbid you mention you’re not anyone’s brother, even metaphorically, because you know that of course there aren’t any girls on the internetz, jeeze. But seriously, whatever. I’m not high-level offended, truth be told; the notion of internet brotherhood just kinda leaves me cold.

When I call you sister, mister, it’s not that I’m implying you’re less of a man. I am, tho’, implying that you’re not a bro. And I’m giving you a moment to consider that you may be talking to a sister instead of a brother. And maybe I am inviting you to some of the hippie magic,* because why should I be shameful about what sisterhood has to offer?

Let’s really break it down: I mean, do you stand with me?** Do you stand with me in insisting that it’s not shameful to be a woman? Are you ok with women? Because if you’re ok with women, if you’re willing to acknowledge that women are around and, yanno, just as valuable as men, then it really shouldn’t bother you to be called sister any more than it’s assumed women should be ok with being called a brother. Right?

Just stuff to chew on, sister.


*It depends, are you being a jerk? Because if you’re being a jerk, no, I’m not inviting you to any of the magic).
**After my second cup of coffee, of course. Because, full disclosure: before that second cup of coffee (certainly before the first) kicks in, I may not be making any kind of sense that anyone should be standing with.