Is There Something Extra-Special — And Extra-Stressful — Between Sisters?

Illustration for article titled Is There Something Extra-Special — And Extra-Stressful — Between Sisters?

Much has been made about Margaret "Peggy" Seltzer, the writer whose gang violence memoir, Love and Consequences, turned out to be a fabrication. But, the New York Times asks today, what of Cyndi Hoffman, Peggy's older sister? Hoffman is the one who turned "tattletale" and blew the whistle on Peggy. Her own sister. "We have powerful expectations of loyalty from a sister," Marcia Millman, sociology professor and author of The Perfect Sister: What Draws Us Together, What Drives Us Apart tells the Times. "But along with the idealized image of sisters, that they are always close, there is a stereotype that sisters are very competitive. It's the two extremes." They say blood is thicker than water, but is the truth thicker than blood?


We've discussed sisterhood before; but mostly childhood hijinks and run-of-the-mill adolescent torture. Cyndi Hoffman is 47 years old; Peggy is 33. Are they proof that you're never too old for sibling conflict? What made Cyndi turn in her flesh and blood? Is it because, as author Vikki Stark (My Sister, My Self) said on the Today show this morning (see above clip), older sisters are the "caretakers"? Was Cyndi envious of Peggy? (It was a glowing profile in the Times that prompted Cyndi to phone Peggy's publisher and call bullshit on Peggy's claim that she was a half-white, half-Native American girl who grew up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers and ran drugs for the Bloods.)

Times columnist Tara Parker-Pope points out: "While we choose our friends and rely on our parents, siblings remain in our lives by neither choice nor necessity." As both Parker-Pope and Stark say: The relationship between sisters can powerfully influence the outcome of the womens' lives as adults. If your sister was on her way to becoming a best-selling author in a career built on a lie, would you turn her in? Or is it important to be loyal to your family, no matter what? What do you do when being a good person means being a bad sister?

In Sisters, Love and an Urge to Wring Her Neck, Siblings Behaving Badly, Sibling Battles [New York Times]
In Sisters, Love And An Urge To Wring Her Neck [NBC News]

Earlier: Are First-Borns More Successful Than Younger Siblings?
Older Sisters Are All A Bunch Of Hilarious Sadists
An Open Apology To Our Younger Sisters
Did Faux Memoirist Peggy Seltzer Reveal A Culture Of Narcissism Or Racism?
Female Gang-Banging Memoirist Is More Fiction Than Fact



Yeah, I have trouble with this one because my sister- the adult one, at least- would never write a fake memoir. (The other 2 are 14, much remains to be seen.) So me no relatey.

I would like to point out though that Hoffman went to her sister's publisher, not the media. She probably thought she was doing them a favor. I say good for her. It's clearly the more moral choice.