Article by Catherine Lambert /
Herald Sun (Melbourne) /
May 04, 2018 /
Click here to view original /
Women in ancient and modern cultures have always got together to share their stories. It’s an inherent practice in most indigenous tribal cultures and has taken many forms in modern times – from the consciousness-raising groups during the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and ‘70s to the present taste for sister, goddess, women’s or healing circles.
No matter what the name, circle groups tend to take the form of about 10 women of various ages and circumstances gathering to meet and talk. It’s that simple.
But the complex element is that the women don’t tend to know each other. They are not friends, family or even acquaintances but when, or if, they choose, they share information on a range of issues that are bothering them at the time, from sexuality and drinking too much to needing to lose weight, work frustrations or over-committed lifestyles.
University of Melbourne social scientist Dr Lauren Rosewarne says as church attendance drops, the need to share on a spiritual level remains.
“With more women being increasingly less interested in church, they are more likely to seek something secular that offers something churches don’t,” Rosewarne says. “There’s a sense that women find solidarity in shared experiences.
“You don’t need to know the women you share those experiences with. It’s the experience that makes you bond or feel a connection.”
Psychiatrists talk about the “stranger on the train” phenomenon where a person you have never meet tells you their life story.
“The therapist’s couch is exactly the same, where a need to get something off your chest is appealing,” Rosewarne says. “If you tell your friends or workmates all your deepest secrets, there’s a fear you will be defined by that problem.
“But at one of these circles, which is probably outside of your ordinary network, you’re not judged and can start afresh.”