Women and Power

The thing women have got to learn is that nobody gives you power. You just take it. ~Roseanne Barr

Absolutely Roseanne! Power is not a gift, an object to give from one person to another, power is only visible when being used. Much like an electron, we only see it when we test it. I have long thought that the reason some men have tried to oppress and contain women is because of the power women have. When a woman gives birth to a child, a man gets to be witness to the power and strength that a woman has. In this, he is fearful–fearful that this woman, experiencing such a transformation in her body, proves that she is stronger, more flexible, more persistent, and more resilient than he is. To be a woman is to embody the process of becoming, regardless of whether one begets children or not.

So professionally, she who brings forth the world, she who can bring children into being, should not play coy or suppress her power in some odd attempt to make man feel secure. No, indeed, she should show that in more areas of her life she has the power to bring forth. To bring forth ideas, to bring forth action, to bring forth results with strength, flexibility, resilience, and perseverance. Woman does not need to wait for man to acknowledge her capacity nor her power. Woman proves her power through her action. And she does a disservice to herself if she attempts to do it in the way a man needs to do it. Let the hunter be a hunter. And let the one who brings forth do her best to bring forth.

Here are some of my etiquette tips for women (and all people for that matter) in the post-pomo era:

  • Whoever reaches the door first holds it for the next person (or people) regardless of anyone’s sex or status.
  • When speaking with others, don’t look down. In animal speak this is an act of empowering the more dominant animal. And men come from hunters, they use this amongst themselves. Let them see into your eyes, and they will know the depth and strength of your heart. Chin up! Eyes up! Nose down.
  • Whoever reaches for their money first gets the honor of paying the bill when among equals. When among seniors, let the senior most person decide who pays the bill. When with clients, let the buyer buy the meal (they will pay for it indirectly or directly, why not give them the chance to be gracious and feel generous).
  • Neither hide your body and your beauty nor flaunt it as a manipulation of the hungry hunter. You are yourself and should be proud to be it without needing to demonstrate the power your body holds. They sense it already. Be beautiful for yourself.
  • Smile. It disarms most who would try to hold you back and encourages those around you to be happy.
  • It doesn’t do anyone any good if you are so humble about your power and your talent that you don’t acknowledge it. Temper arrogance with curiousity rather than with self-doubt.
  • Women, generally speaking, intuitively understand the power of community and collaboration. Use it.

Here are some of the qualities that this Caliper study on Women Leaders showed as strengths great female leaders possess:

  • Persuasive
  • Empathetic
  • Flexible
  • Assertive
  • Willing to take risks (and ignore rules)
  • Sociable
  • Learn from adversity
  • Inclusive and team building

Check out the article itself for a more thorough explanation. Thanks to my incredible cousin Kim Olson for the link.