The Downside to Women's Empowerment
WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE.
WARNING: EMPOWERED WOMAN.
I’ve never felt prouder to be a woman than I have over the last few years. Seeing women I know, or don’t, open businesses, climb ladders in corporations, leave toxic, abusive relationships, redefine what it means to be “beautiful” or “sexy,” run for f*&^ing president of the United States, and scream F*&% THE PATRIARCHY has left me giddy and exhilarated. And if you, as a woman, are reading this, perhaps you have felt this way too, or in the very least, have recognized the shift for women in the recent past.
In a nutshell, women everywhere have been busting their humps to find something we’ve felt we’ve been deprived of for quite some time – our personal power – empowerment. Isn’t that exciting?!
So why is it we still feel so disempowered? So depleted? So god damn tired?
I came to a sad realization this morning. Maybe not a realization, but a deeper awareness of something that I’ve noticed emerging over the last few weeks. Something I can’t ignore any further.
It’s presented itself to me through clients, through friends, through social media, through random experiences.
This fight for empowerment … this relentless, exhausting, liberating, fight for liberation of the patriarchy and the misogynistic, sexist energy that’s surrounded us (and continues to) for so long … has left us unhealthy and disempowered.
Brittany, say what?
Allow me to further explain myself.
I’ll start with body image.
Ah, body image. The thought that makes so many women cringe.
Am I too fat? Am I too skinny? Am I too tall? Are my hips too wide? Is my butt big enough? Are my lips plump enough? Are my boobs perky enough? Is my hair pretty enough? Am I enough?
Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Wax your lip. Cake on makeup. Unbutton that blouse. Hike up that skirt. Elongate your legs with those heels. Go f*!$ yourself.
It is a mother effin, indefinable sense of relief, cathartic even, to be apart of a generation of women who redefine beauty. To empower other women to empower themselves to embrace their face, their curves, their freckles, their pimples, their teeth, their hair, their natural, goddess given canvas of art, wrapped in sweatpants. I mean, we’ve fought SO HARD FOR THIS FREEDOM! To just wear whatever we want to be who we are.
Yesterday I read a friend’s social media share – an excerpt from a 1950s home economics book titled, “Tips to look after your husband.” One of the actual “steps” was to “prepare yourself” before hubby gets home. Freshen your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair, cake that smile on your face and greet him with a smile!! Because our husbands, our males, need to have pretty things to look at when they get home, and more importantly, happy, pretty things without feelings. Because, as women, it is our job to ensure that the male is of sound body, mind, and spirit, and we have to consider the mental stress he probably went through during his very hard day at work, ladies. (I kid you not, this is what this f*&$ing book said.)
As you can see, we have come a long way (and further to go!), but something new has come up on my radar.
This tireless fight, this tenacity that we she-bitches have to reclaim our spot in the world, has led us down a path of depleted health and a sense of disempowerment. Exhaustion. A vicious circle.
I’ve had more than one client this month come to me with concerns of wanting to make healthier decisions for herself. One client hit the nail on the head when she said to me, “I got so consumed in not caring about what I looked like on the outside, that I forgot to care about what is going on on the inside.”
This anger we have to be the opposite of what society wants us to be has led us down an even worse path of forgetting to consider our physical health. We want that cookie because we don’t give a shit if we’re a size 2! We want that burger because F YOU I’M NOT ORDERING A SALAD ON A FIRST DATE! And this new, empowered place, of not having to give a rats patoot about our dress sizes and looking like a Victorias Secret Model, is potentially disempowering us in terms of caring about our actual health. Because once again – men (or society) are the focus. Once again, our decisions are being made based on their opinions. Granted, we are doing the opposite, but they are STILL the focus! Not ourselves, not our health, not our mental sanity, but them. And doing what we can to go against.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Because in this new wave of badass warrior goddesses, we have fought tooth and nail to kill it in the workforce. To change the game as business owners, corporate leaders, heads of law firms and hospitals, and be the bread winners!
And through this sea of piss and vinegar that I relish in (and am guilty of as well) our health declines yet again. Both physically and mentally and emotionally. We bust our asses at work, we come home to cook/clean/take care of whatever it is we need to take care of, and we wake up and repeat. We fill our schedules with things that we have to do, places that we have to be, people that we need to see, because by golly, we deserve it, and we sure as shit worked hard enough to get to a place where we have our own schedules that don’t revolve around the male.
Yet now we’re in this place of being expected to do too much. To do it all. Because we can. Yes, we can. We are capable. And we place that expectation on ourselves to prove to everyone else that we can.
And we lose power.
We lose energy.
We lose tenacity; the very tenacity we need to keep making changes as women.
We lose our sense of self, and sometimes even forget the direction we were headed in to begin with.
SO why am I recognizing this? Why am I writing this?
Because, while I know, and you know, that we ladies still have a ways to go to get ourselves to where we deserve and want to be, I feel we have reached a new crossroads. One where we need to recognize our power, but also recognize that having this power doesn’t mean we have shit to prove any longer. Because we know what we are capable of. And it doesn’t need to be done, while destroying our health along the way.
We get stuck in this pattern of constantly doing for others and proving ourselves, and for what? To prove what?
We forget that true empowerment comes when we learn to balance our energy: giving out what we can, but not forgetting to replenish.
Eating right. Not for others approval of our looks. Not to get into a certain dress size. But so our f*!$ing organs are healthy. So we can stay alive. So we feel good. So we can feel even more capable of kicking ass. It doesn’t have to be one or the other! Meaning it doesn’t have to be redefining beauty versus allowing our health to decline.
Taking 15 minutes to refresh, just like the 1950s home economic book advised. BUT NOT FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Not for our husbands/wives/kids. But for us. Because OUR mind-body-spirit experience is important, as well. And you know what? Take longer than 15 minutes. Breathe. Take a bubble bath. Watch a TV show. Read a book. Stare at the freakin ceiling in silence. Whatever it is YOU need to do – without feeling guilty that you’re wasting time to prove something or do something or be more. Sometimes you can just be.
You don’t need an excuse for that.
Your empowerment feeds your physical health. When we feel strong emotionally and mentally, we feel strong physically. The stronger we feel physically, the stronger we feel emotionally and mentally.
If we are not caring for our bodies. For our health. For our mind. For our emotions. Then how can we hope to continue empowering ourselves and other women for the long haul?
I was making breakfast this morning and considering my feelings on this matter and felt it necessary to share with you. Women’s lives used to be revolved around caring for their family. Making sure everyone else’s needs are met. And while we have taken back much of that, and been able to refocus and direct our energy to our career and needs, so often we still get caught in that repetitive cycle that still leaves us without.
In the 1950s, we went without the ability to live out our dreams and passions. In 2018, this opportunity is present, but we’re living without physical energy, physical and mental health, and a sense of enough time.
Women are still going without.
In the 1950s, men had women to cater to their mental, emotional and physical needs, while we took off their shoes for them while they sat in a big comfy chair and sipped on their beverage of choice (another “tip to look after your husband!”)
In 2018, women have women to cater to their own mental, emotional and physical needs. We don’t need anyone to take off our f*!$ing shoes or pour us a drink because we can do it ourselves. But we can’t forget to do it. Because no one else will. Nor do we need anyone to.
We've gotten so used to saying, "Yes I can!" with pride, that saying, "No, I don't want to," has become almost a shameful thought. That by not wanting to, not feeling like it, or simply wanting to say "no" somehow denotes that we aren't capable, rather than just f*&%in tired.
It’s 2018. New Year. More Empowered You.
Don’t get stuck in the cycle of forgetting to care about yourself, too -- your mind and body, you -- not just your career goals and changing the world.