Female Empowerment & Society’s Perspective
May 10, 2022
It has become very confusing to actually know what female empowerment means these days. We are all supposed to want it, but do we all need it? Somehow it is now expected of all of us, but does it mean the same for all women? Personally, I don’t think so.
For me, female empowerment has consisted of standing up for myself, becoming financially independent, saying my truth, saying no to certain things and relationships, and being myself. For some friends their empowerment has consisted of dressing up as they wish, being out of the closet, or finding the courage to express themselves.
But somehow society has come to believe that female empowerment is about feminism. And that got me thinking about it. Is it an act of feminism to pay the bill when out on a date? Or is it an act of freedom, perhaps some control? Is it an act of feminism to take charge? Or is it a response to a personality trait? Most of these actions don’t meet society’s expectations for women and are therefore considered acts of feminism, while being put in comparison to the first ever wave of feminism, which has evolved in the last decades.
I believe that we’ve come to need this freedom, that this is no longer a social cause, but a need, a fulfillment, a response to a personality trait or an inclination. Interestingly though, it is still revolutionary to be independent.
Merriam-Webster defines empowerment as the granting of power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties. And I wonder, is the power really granted or taken? Do we still have to ask for permission? Does power have the same meaning for all women?
I believe empowerment looks different for every woman and that’s okay. I can find empowerment in developing my own voice, and a friend can find it in learning a hobby. It doesn’t have to look the same for all of us and I believe it is important to remember that.
I have some recommendations so you can find out what empowerment means to you:
Make decisions that respond to your wishes and desires, and not to the expectations of your family or society, only what you truly want.
This can be a hard one. Especially because we are a combination of several aspects growing up. But we can discover our own beliefs, spirituality, lifestyle, and values eventually. Sometimes we take what we were taught early on, and there are other things that no longer suit us, and we let them go. Also, society can often teach women very specific beliefs about our role and what is expected of us. Even though a lot has changed around that, there’s still much to work on, and that can look different for each woman, or each culture.
Find out what you need to develop so you can make your own decisions, find your own path
What we need to develop can be hiding behind relationships that are not working or helping us grow, or the role that we assume in these relationships. Sometimes we take the role of caregiver, of problem solver, of nurturer, and even though there is nothing wrong with these roles, sometimes we take them because we believe we must, not because they are meant for us or because that is what we want.
Finding your path can look a lot like leaving a relationship, moving to a new country, or with smaller things like starting that yoga class, learning how to drive, or taking that job as a teacher that you always longed for.
That development can look like bravery, or it can also look like staying quiet for once. Perhaps it can look like being opinionated, or learning how to listen. It can look different for each woman, and that’s okay.
Learn to say no, to set boundaries
Say no to what doesn’t fit you, to what doesn’t feel right, to what doesn’t feel aligned with your beliefs. Remember there is no right or wrong, only right or wrong for you.
Explore possible loyalties
Sometimes we develop loyalties, to our religion, culture, family perspective, society’s perspective, and we lose sight of what it would be like to be loyal to what I want, need, and believe. On occasion we don’t even know how that looks like, and that’s okay. But are you asking yourself the right questions? Are these questions towards your needs, or others’ needs?
My point is, try to learn and listen to your own needs, that will take you to your real self and there is no better empowerment than being who you are.