Last week someone asked me what I mean when I refer to “empowering women.” Does it mean they don’t have power unless someone or something empowers them?
All women are born empowered, but along the way various things happen to erode that power. Men are also born empowered, yet they seem to be able to keep that power or even grow it beyond a reasonable doubt!
So what diminishes a female’s innate power? I think it is a variety of things that begin early in life:
1. Little girls are expected to be “polite” and “caring; “not powerful and bold when in fact they could be all of these things. Boldness builds confidence, while focusing on stepping back to just be “polite” becomes a costly habit.
2. In many things, little girls feel the need to be “perfect.” Sports are particularly important, as these people are strong influencers in our lives in how we perform, work with others, and take direction or course criticism. Little girls and young women are rarely given strong constructive criticism because their coaches don’t want them to cry. Instead they give them encouragement to just play the game. You can do this, you’ve got this, rather than “get over it “ or “ pick yourself up and do it again.” With this type of language they can learn its not personal, no one is picking on them. It’s just what it takes to get better and build the confidence to stay in the game.
3. Learning to compete even with simple things like toys is tricky for girls. Grabbing a toy or not sharing readily is not polite or caring, so little girls don’t learn these social skills. They suck it up and share their precious toy or book when they just want it for themselves, a very natural instinct. When it comes time for some friendly competition, like being president of a club or a class, girls don’t even put themselves out there to actually compete for the title - afraid of losing or not being perfect. In some instances, they’re just not sure how to compete while being polite and caring.
I could go on and on with examples of the shrinking of internal power otherwise known as confidence from little girls, to young women and beyond. The point I’m trying to make is that women are born with the power to protect ourselves, get what we want and feel confident in ourselves before we can even talk. We are BORN empowered.
My answer to the empowerment question is this: “ Women all have power, but sometimes they need help to regain or reignite their inner power, self confidence or self esteem that somehow got misplaced or even lost in the complexities of life.” My sincerest hope and dream is that one day very soon the words empowering women will be an oxymoron; an expression with contradictory words!!