Women Reveal The Power of Positive Female Connection

posted November 9, 2012

Joan Didion writes "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Telling stories is a powerful thing. It can be an act of insurrection stemming from a desire to be seen and heard - and most importantly, a desire to not feel so alone.

Christine Bronstein thought something was horribly wrong when she looked down at her beautiful newborn daughter, her third child, and felt a wave of sadness. Her tears flowed freely as she coped with postpartum depression, but before long, Christine's close friends swooped in. They told her: you are not damaged; this happens to many mothers; you are not alone. With support from her inner circle and the passing of time, Christine began to feel more like herself, though she never forgot how her friends boosted her spirits by just being there and telling her it was okay to be sad.

Sound familiar? When women are given a place to come together and share their stories, the positive results tend to snowball. That's why Christine founded a group called A Band of Wives to celebrate the women who continue to catch each other. Whatever the obstacle or triumph, the wives stay strongly connected, and in 2009, they formed an online social network. ABOW has swelled in ranks to 5,000 married and unmarried members and is continuing to grow every day. It's not just women who believe in bonding: ABOW is also championed by "husbands," like Phil Bronstein, who wrote Wives Have Wives - And that's Healthy.

To pay tribute to women's strength in numbers, A Band of Wives collected stories from its members and self-published an anthology called Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection. Contributors come from all over the world, including my own Bay Area backyard.  

In "My Abortion Brought Us Together," Aspen Baker writes about the moment she shared her own secret: she was behind a bar in Berkeley, counting tips after the place had closed its doors to revelers, when she turned to a co-worker Polly and said "I'm not drinking because I'm pregnant. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet." It was this moment of admission -- followed by a second, when Polly revealed she had had an abortion -- that changed everything. In her story, Aspen explores the profound impact of truthtelling and how lifelong friendships are born from such honesty. It turns out that Aspen was not alone, either, and her story speaks to the power that we tap into when we unite our common experiences. 

On the night of its release, Nothing But the Truth reached #1 on Amazon in the categories of Feminist Theory, Women in Politics, and Gender Studies. It has struck a chord with its readers, and I hope you'll support Aspen and her fellow contributors by sharing your story, artwork or poem. A Band of Wives is seeking submissions for its next collection about all kinds of transitions. And if you'd like to read more of Aspen's story - hint: it's a little different than the one you think you know - take a look.

  Maggie Bronson lives in Oakland, CA, and loves being pro-voice, volunteering as an Exhale talkline counselor, writing in her free time, and spontaneous dancing.

Editor's Note:
You can catch Aspen Baker and Christine Bronstein discussing the anthology, female friendships, and storytelling with Michael Krasny on KQED's Website.
And, Nothing but the Truth was just recommended by TeenVogue as one of the 16 Great Reads to Gift the Bookworm!

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