The term female empowerment seems to get tossed around a lot these days. It’s so overused that it can often loose it’s true sense of meaning. Feminist stereotypes come into play resulting in confusion and, to a fair extent, ignorance on what it is activists are standing for.
Living in a society, as a female, can be challenging. Being degraded or seen as lower than some one else, based off of gender is difficult. Identifying as a female, when others don’t believe you are one, is both hard and frustrating. However, being a female, in whatever capacity that is, is not difficult. Female empowerment is not challenging.
The issue is how we, in this society, treat females in comparison to men, furthermore, in comparison to each other. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have witnessed one female degrade, put down or insult another. Perhaps we are even guilty of taking part in this, ourselves.
I know I’ve been victim of these words, particularly at university, which sometimes surprises me. I’m a young adult, surrounded by other young adults that are supposed to be mature and more aware of the consequences their actions can impact. I often forget that bullying isn’t left at school and there will always
be people that think it’s okay and actually enjoy insulting and oppressing others. For some reason, some females believe that what I wear around university is offensive or floozy, (that’s me putting it as elegantly as I can). It’s a good thing I don’t concern myself with the opinions of others.
I don’t know what it is about wearing lace tights and a dress but it seems to result in glares and scoffs. Why are we doing this to each other? Why is it so wrong to stand out a little or want to wear a certain outfit because it gives you confidence and makes you feel empowered? Correct me if I’m wrong but, I don’t recall a moment in history were wearing a dress to university has caused another to die or put them at danger.
There’s an invisible line which forms between genders and many more that appear between ourselves- the more we age. It’s the line crossed, when you can no longer play sports with boys or when you get your first period. That moment a girl is officially a female and she is now constantly reminded she is in fact a girl. She’s taught she can’t do certain things like run as fast as boys or complete a mathematical sum like a man can. She’s taught she will always be lesser. Aren’t we reinforcing this every time we put another female down?
Despite all that fights against us, there is a silver lining. We can learn to build each other up, instead of tearing one another down.
We can become empowered and in turn, reflect this on to each other. The hate can stop. The dress-codes at schools can end, the hate comments over social media can stop. Frankly, I’m tired of it all. Aren’t you?
Be the change
One of the dominant parts of feminism and female empowerment is that we must constantly be lifting each other up- not tearing each other down. Sometime ago, I shot in a bodysuit, knowing that there will be certain people that will make snarky comments about me sharing photos of myself in lingerie on the internet. Unsurprisingly, some became angry because I challenged societies ideals of how a ‘respectable woman’ should act. I was aware that there would undoubtedly be other females that have fallen into societies trap and will oppress me for something as simple as this. It’s a sad truth and unfortunate that I knew and expect this. Whats more, I was right and had an email or two expressing their negative opinions and I was grateful in that moment that I had developed a high level of self-confidence and clear moral direction. But really, what is the actual problem with this? Why does it matter? What happened to free-expression and acts of liberation?
I know we’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another. Hate on Miley Cyrus for showing far too much skin, eye rolls at the girl wearing a skirt two inches too short in the streets, laughing and making snarky jokes about the woman at the bar, attempting to flirt with the cute guy…. Are these women hurting anyone by doing these things? Why not admire them for their guts instead of taking part in societies attempts to control their thoughts. If a man had done any of these things would any one be bothered? Probably not. No one would bat an eyelash.
It’s time to be the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t take part in any of this oppression, lift other women up, teach others to be stronger, to break away from the power society has over us. If someone’s taking part in this oppression, step in and show them a new, better perspective. Compliment other women. If you find yourself admiring a random girl’s qualities, don’t let it go unnoticed. Let them know.
You can’t empower other women if you’re still stuck in a black hole of female oppression yourself. Break out of those chains and reclaim what is rightfully yours. Equality and empowerment.
Lift up the women in your life
Empowering women doesn’t need to be done at a mass global scale. It starts right with in our immediate social circle and can be extended further out of this, with other women that we may see from time to time. Tell your sister, mother, aunt or grandmother how much you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant present, just let them know ow grateful you are for what they’ve done for you. Write a letter to your old primary school teacher who lifted you up, or encouraged you in some way. Perhaps make a cup of tea for the new mother in your workplace and let her know she’s doing great when the ‘new baby stress’ comes overrules her.
Tomorrows women today
Focusing on the women around us is a great way to build female empowerment but don’t forget about the little girls sitting right under your nose. Building a better future lies with in the current generation and their influence on the younger.
Children long for adult’s approval and acknowledgement. It is what we teach through our praise that can- to a certain extent- shape that child’s future. If you have a daughter, niece or a young girl in your life, take it upon yourself to teach them to be stronger. Ensure she has a comfortable environment where she can openly talk about issues such as body image and bullying. Teach her that the only ideal weight is the one that keeps you healthy. Encourage her to speak up about what she believes in, but also ask her why she believes what she does. Not to challenge her intellect but to provide a platform where she can practice defending her position. It also evokes a stronger sense of self and a deeper awareness of who she is.
Respect who she is and let her have her space to evolve and grow into the woman she aspires to be. Be there to guide her but don’t try and change her. Accept her different perspectives and beliefs. Understand that they may process the world in a different way to the way you see things. An empowered woman has her own mind.
Introduce her to like-minded women that offer valuable inspiration and are great role-models. Women who are standing on the front-line doing amazing things to better the world like Emma Watson and Sheryl Sandberg. Note that this doesn’t have to be focused on gender equality. There are millions of empowered women that are teaching young girls to be who they are and peruse their dreams, no matter what society says is ‘right’. Look at Beth Tweddle, an incredible gymnast with ambition, perseverance who showed incredible strength when she was pushed down for not fitting in with societies ‘beauty standards’.
Don’t forget to be a role-model yourself! If you are around children, be the empowered woman you, yourself want to see more of. Set an example and watch with pride as those younger, follow in your footsteps taking part in shaping a society rich with strong females.
By empowering other females, you, yourself become an empowered being too. There are so many ways to empower women and help society evolve into a utopia where gender equality is a real thing and female oppression is a thing of the past. Remember- one person can make a difference and that difference starts with you.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.