Empowerment of Women
Women are still struggling when it comes to being empowered in their relationships, in the workplace and in their own minds. It’s sad that over a decade into the 21st century, the media continue to objectify women. It’s perhaps even more unfortunate that we women are still so preoccupied with being attractive and desirable to men, as opposed to happy, successful and fulfilled in our own right.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being attractive and desirable. Presenting one’s best self to the world can be regarded as an act of self-love. Problems arise when these the only ways in which women can be valued in our society.
The media promote beauty and sweetness as by far, the most valuable attributes of women, and too many women still see the love, approval and company of men as the primary factors responsible for their happiness and fulfillment.
We need to see that we can define ourselves separately from the men in our lives and that we can also feel good about ourselves based on our abilities and accomplishments. We need to identify ourselves not just as girlfriends, wives and mothers, and not just as caring and nurturing, but as intelligent, capable, successful women in our own right.
There seems to be a back-lash against the feminist ideals of the recent past. In fact, for some reason the concept of “feminism” is seen today as a bad thing. This is unfortunate, since the true ideals of feminism are to create an equal playing field for men and women, and to make the genders empowered allies, able to be their best selves.
Today, in our “anti-feminist” times, instead of looking to fulfill our intellectual, creative or financial potential, we’re constantly on a diet, in search of male approval, and spending a fortune on clothing, make-up, perfume and hair products designed to make us more appealing to men.
Women are consumed with the idea of being more attractive, beguiling and delightful to men, as well as ever more nurturing and supportive. We’re still doing the lion’s share of the child-care and domestic duties, and at the end of a busy day, too many of us are focused, not on pursuing our own needs, but on nurturing and comforting our men.
Yes, there are exceptions, but they’re few and far between. Women are yet to receive equal pay for equal work in most area of employment, and women who work in non-traditional professions are subject to condescension, harassment, even sexual assault. We’re far too focused on being pleasing and compliant and on “dumbing ourselves down” so as not to appear threatening to men.
Very assertive women are insulted behind their backs, and there’s very little acceptance, let alone praise, for a woman who’s ambitious, or even ruthless in her career. Whereas cutthroat businessmen are admired, even revered, women with similar traits are often reviled by men and women alike.
Male bosses and colleagues still engage in bullying female workers, and even when they hold management positions, women are often still expected to perform menial tasks, such as taking the minutes and making the coffee.
Even more unfortunate, women are catty and competitive with each-other, in the workplace and in their social lives, having internalized the false belief that other women can’t be their friends and allies. When potential mates and promotions are seen as rare and precious commodities, other women inevitably are viewed as obstacles to the achievement of our goals.
Aside from the lack of female support we must live with on a daily basis, one of our biggest problems is how willingly we tolerate disrespect from men. If we stood up for ourselves and set better limits, things might begin to change more quickly.
We’re too accommodating and conciliatory; too willing to brush off disrespect and insults. We need to stop being so nice and start being more assertive. If we don’t say, “No, this is not acceptable!” how are men ever going to know when they’re in the wrong?
In our relationships, we’re still too often choosing to give up our power. We’re so desperate to hold on to our men that we frequently let them get away with bad behavior and don’t challenge them when we ought to. We value the state of matrimony more than the state of happiness and we’ll tolerate unfulfilling, frustrating, even abusive marriages rather than be seen (and looked down upon) as single.
In our dealings with men, both personally and professionally, we need to take back our power and stop enabling bad behavior. We need to rehabilitate the image of the strong, self-sufficient, confident woman and view it as a desirable goal rather than potentially off-putting to men.
Men aren’t going to let go of their incorrect assumptions and expectations about women on their own. It’s up to us to show them how much better things would be for everyone if women were empowered.
Men are bored and frustrated in their relationships with doll-like, “dumbed down” women. They’d be much more fulfilled with an equal partner who could meet them half-way, and whose dynamism and success were fascinating and inspiring to them.
Men might think that what they want is someone pretty, shapely, compliant and non-threatening, but this leaves them wondering why their relationships feel so empty and meaningless. Professionally, bosses wonder why women aren’t performing up to their capabilities. We aren’t doing men any favors when we don’t give them our best.
Instead of being relegated to the role of “beauty queen” or “nurturer,” women could be adventurers, explorers, and visionaries. Men who choose such women as partners or colleagues will be spared having nothing in common with the women in their lives, and no-one to talk to when they come home at the end of the day.
We need to unite as women, affirming the value of our female friends and colleagues. We must acknowledge and support not just the attractiveness of other women but their intelligence and creativity as well.
Women are uniquely able to understand and appreciate the struggles and dreams of other members of their gender. Instead of competing with each-other we can work together to lift up women as a group. We can mentor and inspire each-other, in the same way men have been doing for ages.
We lose out when we’re at odds with other women, and everyone loses out when we’re at odds with men. One side-effect of handing over our power to men is that this causes us to become resentful, and ultimately, contemptuous toward them. We frequently engage in male-bashing, complaining about men’s myriad failings, without taking the responsibility to stand up for ourselves in our relationships.
If we took better care of ourselves in relation to men, we wouldn’t feel the need to criticize or attack them. The more disrespect from men we’re willing to tolerate, the more angry and alienated we become with the men in our lives. On the other hand, when we feel empowered in our relationships, we’re free to fully love and accept the men in our lives.
When we’re our best selves, as opposed to a watered-down, non-threatening version of womanhood, we’ll be happier, more interesting and more fun to be with. Instead of being obsequiously pleasing to men, we can offer a lot more by being confidently kind and compassionate. When we’re empowered, the men in our personal and professional lives can’t help but be happier as well.
Men can begin to see that the media are selling them a bill of goods about male-female relationships. They can recognize that being with an empowered woman is much better, not just for us but for them as well. It’s clear that the empowerment of women leads to happier, more fulfilled women, to better relationships between women and to better male-female relationships.