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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Empowerment and Being A Woman

Sometimes I feel like my sisters do not quite understand what Empowerment truly is. 
Looking back through history we can find reference to all sorts of Women’s Movements for rights, equality, social justice, and so on. One may say that it all began when women had to go to work while their husband’s were fighting in World War II, however you can go back much further than that and find women also fought for their equality back in 1848. Then in the 1970’s we had another awakening. Here is a wonderful timeline reference if you are curious. It outlines by a timeline the battle for our rights. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html
I can’t say that this is all inclusive, as every day women fight for their rights, for their empowerment, for their equality.
Regardless, we as women also have a duty to ourselves to really understand what the ideas behind being Empowered women really means. More often than not it is not the men who take our empowerment from us, but we do it to ourselves.
Here are some tips from me about what Empowerment is, and what it is not. 

Throwing our sexuality around is not being empowered. 

Okay ladies, we all know we have what men want. We generally know how to use it. Even when we don’t know how to use it men generally find a way to make us feel like we do, especially when they want “it” from us! Just because you can make a man week in the knees, make him do your bidding, get him to cheat on his wife or girlfriend, or talk him into washing your car and walking your dog, does not mean you are empowered or that you are asserting your rights as a women. Really, what you are doing is demeaning the idea of womanhood. 
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with being sexy with a gentleman you have an established relationship with, and of course flirting is a part of the process when dating, but only when it is sincere. Which leads me to the second point.

Being a female “player” is not empowerment. 

When you begin to act like the men that you have probably encountered, and complained about, you are not showing empowerment, rather you are just being a jerk. Two rights don’t make a wrong, and while that is cliche’ it is true. Acting toward men they way you have been treated by them will not prove you are a strong woman, nor will it find you much happiness. Men are human, just like you, and they do have feelings. Just about the time you feel you have had enough of the games men play, and decide to play their game, only better, you will meet that one gem in the rough, and treat him with disregard, missing out on one great guy! Women typically attract the wrong kind of man, its one of life’s mysteries. This means just at the time you decide to go into “Bitch” mode, the perfect guy will surely come along and you will blow it. 
Just treat everyone you meet with respect, but remember you have to respect yourself. I never have seen a woman in this frame of mind who was acting, demonstrating, or exuding, self respect. When you go into female player mode, you look ridiculous, just like the men do, so stop it. 
This brings me to my next point.

Tenderness is not weakness.

One thing that men love about women is that we are tender, nurturing, kind, and caring. Women and men ARE different, for a reason, if men were as tender, caring, kind, and nurturing as women, we would not be attracted to them! Sure, we want a man who can be loving, romantic, and caring toward us, but more often than not when a man is too much this way they are coined as being whipped, or weak, and women turn away from them. Women tend to want the “bad boy” and that is not so much a generalization  as it seems. Women want to feel they would be protected, supported, even if supported in the things they themselves want to accomplish. I do not make these statements to make it seem I think, or feel that women NEED a “strong man” but women do tend to seek out men who are independent, strong, accomplished, striving for something in their lives. Nothing sends a woman running for the hills more than a needy, clingy, love song singing man. 
Lately, however, I have seen an influx of women who are refusing to let down their walls. Due to being treated poorly by the last guy, they insist that they will not show any tenderness to the next man, until that man has proven himself. This is where I believe women are confusing tenderness for sex. I agree, you should not be sexing a man until he has proven himself, but if you don’t show him your tenderness, your ability to connect emotionally, your openness to being cared FOR, then you may as well just shut yourself in a room all alone with a glass of wine and a vibrator. 
Men are just like women, only opposite, we tend to look for a strong capable man and men tend to look for a tender caring woman. Of course then we both have the issue of faulting the opposite sex for having the traits we love most about them but that is for another article! 
The point is part of what is beautiful about us women is that we do have these wonderful traits, and if you are not allowing those traits to shine you are not being empowered, you are just in denial about what it is that makes a woman, a woman. 

Taking on "typical male" attributes is not empowerment. 

Now this is not like being a female player. Women and men use their “player” skills quite differently. However, sometimes women will go into this mode of being very male like in their words, comments, actions, and reactions to things. Women will become desensitized, crass, take on male attributes, get involved in male centered activities, become “one of the boys” to focus their lives around male “friends”, all the while declaring that they don’t really like any of them as more than friends, which is usually just lying to yourself. 
Being “one of the guys” often is just another way to be sure you have a man or many men in your life, so you feel you have a male counterpart, when really you have no true interest in playing dodge ball on your Sunday off, or watching the game. Sure may of us do enjoy watching the game, like playing sports and typical guy things and I am not trying to generalize all women as “mall girls”, but the point is that if you are centering, and changing your lifestyle to be around guys, losing touch with your female friends, or losing them due to the way you are acting, then your not being true to yourself. 
When your conversations with your girlfriends revolves around talk about what you did with “the boys” and you are insisting you don’t have a crush on even one of them, yet then complain about their girlfriends, or endlessly talk about how they all want you, but you have told them you are not interested, you are fooling yourself. Your not however fooling your girlfriends! 

Boundaries Versus Ultimatums.

Women often tend to confuse boundaries and ultimatums. Its great to set boundaries! I recommend them to every client, both women and men. Not only setting boundaries but expressing them clearly to the person in your life, the sooner the better. Most importantly, standing by your boundaries! There is nothing as self sabotaging as setting your own boundaries aside! Often people fail to set boundaries because then they will have to stand by them or look like they are weak. If you can’t manage to set a firm boundary and stand by it then perhaps you just are weak. Then you need some life coaching or counseling. Again that is for another article. Regardless, Its good to establish expectations, boundaries, lines in the sand, and to stand by them. This is not the same as an ultimatum! Don’t confuse the two!  
An ultimatum would sound something like this:
If you don’t (insert something here), then I won’t (insert something here).
An ultimatum usually involves an exchange of some kind and is a form of emotional blackmail. 
Boundaries usually sound like this:
I have a personal rule that I don’t (insert something here), until (insert expectation or timeline here). 
Boundaries are expressed upfront, before emotional attachment develops, and before mind games can come into play. 
Ultimatums come up after there is a problem! 

Class is empowering. 

I feel sometimes like we need to go back in the days of the Classic Hollywood Starlets. Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, just to name a few, in order to recall what true grace and class is all about. Its not just the black and white films, the blingy jewelry, the handsome co-stars, and such that make these women come over as so sophisticated, but rather a sign of the times when these films were made. Even though Vivien Leigh, as Scarlet O’Hara, did not necessarily have the best of luck in Gone with the Wind, at the end she finally found her empowerment, and stated such with a passion! Then, sweet innocent farm girl Dorothy, played by the amazing actress Judy Garland, finds her courage and strength and thus the man behind the curtain! 
If only we could capture some of the grace and class these women had and put it in a bottle! 
What is it about “those times” that made these women so capable, so determined in a male dominated world, in such a cut-throat business. It could be how they were raised, it could have been where they were raised, it could have been that they were really just intelligent, shrewd, and cunning, but I feel it all comes back to an innocence, a trust, a belief that women are born with but lose somewhere along the way. A belief that there is beauty in all things, good in all people, that there is a way to emotionally connect with everyone and see their pains, their fears, their hurts, and their point of view. This is the gift every woman has. Its called forgiveness. 
If we as women can embrace that gift, the connection we have with others, and allow ourselves to simply be what is in our nature, we would feel so much more empowered. 
This does not mean that we become doormats, nor that we lay down our ambitions, nor that we allow others to harm us, only that we can let go of our own angers, release past negative experiences that have jaded us, learn from them, forgive and move forward in a healthy way. 
Now that is class! 

Be a lady - Be empowered.

Empowerment means allowing our wonderful womanly attributes to shine! Letting others, men, the world see that we are loving, caring, emotionally connected, nurturing, and warm. Yet, with all of that, we are strong, we have independence, we are capable of greatness, we respect our bodies and our minds, we hold our heads high, walk with dignity and grace, right wrongs, and set boundaries firmly and stand by them! 
We do not waiver, we do not relinquish. We do not set aside our core beliefs, we do not become wall flowers nor party girls, we do not cater to the egos of men just to get ahead, we do not use our bodies as tools to trick, manipulate, or trip men up. 
We are equals, we are not out to prove that, especially not by hurting or setting men up to show our advantage or authority, that only works against the overall view of women as being equals. We do not need to prove it by playing dirty, we prove it by living by a simple code of do no harm. We prove it by having our own moral compass, setting boundaries, and living up to them, with no excuses and no apologies. 
We feel confident being caring, showing concern, taking care of others, and shooting a radiant smile toward those we care for. We know when to walk away to save ourselves, without anger or hatred. We don’t beg for anything, we work for it. We earn it. We own it. We don’t flaunt what we have, what we have done, or where we are headed. We are classy, we are graceful, we are WOMAN! 
And that is what I call EMPOWERMENT. 


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