Bretton Riley Keating
My personal definition of female empowerment will likely sound different from many. While I believe in strong women, I believe that the way society teaches us to be strong is entirely backwards.
Masculinity is associated with rational, logical thought, while femininity includes sensitivity, intuition, and nurturing qualities. These are not black vs. white or boy vs. girl traits. Each and every one of us has both masculine and feminine characteristics. In general, our culture values the masculine to such a degree, that both women and men have been taught to diminish their inner femininity, including their intuitive voices, while enhancing their masculine qualities in order to succeed.
Women do not need to keep up with men or try to fit into societal, check-the-box constraints. We have always been just as capable as the opposite sex. Proving ourselves capable of climbing ladders or blowing away glass ceilings are wonderful gestures but only if they come from a place of authenticity. Doing so to prove our worth, rather, feeds the mindset that we are not worthy to begin with.
I believe the most empowering thing we can do, both as men and women in society as it stands currently, is to embrace our soft, nurturing qualities, as well as our fierce ones. This boils down to feeling our emotions again, and tapping into who we were before the world taught us how to be. The majority of individuals have it deeply ingrained to suppress and hold back who we are and how we feel. This applies to men and women alike. Once you tap into the felt sense, a host of authentic power follows suit. Intuitive and deep, anciently-rooted power.
My ideas on this subject come from a space of having tried to fit into far too many boxes and facing gender discrimination and stereotyping on a deep level. I finally realized the invisible walls surrounding me were killing me slowly and decided that the only way to be is myself. This means voicing who I am and tapping into each of my inherent gifts, especially the ones that the world around me does not actively value.
In America, I have a few female mentors who embrace their sensitive, intuitive sides. These are not stereotypical, lovey-dovey women who get walked all over. Rather, they are business people, teachers, healers, and leaders in their communities. Each of these women demonstrates love and power in her own unique way. One in particular is fierce, and I am forever grateful for her teaching me how to stand up for myself and to be my own advocate, guide, and teacher.
While in India, furthering my yoga studies, within the first few weeks of being here, I found it interesting that, in addition to women, I met several intuitive men who serve as healers in the community there. In Western culture, it seems men are encouraged to hide this side of themselves, perhaps even more so than women. The Indian men I have met have decades of credentials, knowledge, and experience in what they do, yet they utilize their felt sense in daily interactions in an open, unabashed way.
This is what we need more of. People (both men and women) who are aware that there are a million ways to communicate, and (spoken and written) word is only one of them. There are realms that can neither be seen nor tangibly touched, but are ready for us to listen.
The first step is to undo what we’ve been taught about how to get by in today’s world, which, for me, I know will take decades if not centuries. But I’m willing to do the work. Because I’m tired of feeling disempowered by others telling me that my inner voice isn’t real or worthy. Intuition and sensitivity is just as real as knowledge, and it’s time we recognize it as such. It’s time we embrace the feminine, both within and without, on a deeper level. Doing so will lead to not only female empowerment, but the evolution of society as a whole.