Last Sunday I had the honor of speaking to The Red Hat Society leaders from all over the country and even Canada about going after their dreams. What an incredible group of women that touched my heart, taught me about the power of aging not only with grace but with zest and passion, and above all how to embrace all that's incredible about being a woman.
I told the women at the conference that I felt they were the most powerful group of women in history. This society of red hat and purple clothing wearers celebrate being women and are 70,000 worldwide strong. If each one of them, through example, showed women that going after their dreams is not only a right, but also important, we'd create a movement of women believing in their own worth instead of the media's example.
In another week or two I'm going to begin a movement of getting women to go after their dreams, so I thought it was a good time to revisit my thoughts on the feminist movement.
I was born a feminist. By the age of five, I'd decided I'd never take a man's name. I didn't understand why I wasn't allowed to become a priest or even an altar girl. I wanted to know why professional sports were all about men. I was angry whenever I was told that I was a pretty girl and should marry rich. Even the women in my life, who always told me I could do anything, still instilled the idea that I needed to know how to cook and clean to be a proper wife someday. I was taught through example that my worth was based on how much I took care of others.
As I grew into a young woman, I encountered feminist who ridiculed me for how I dressed and lived. They felt because I wore high heels, make-up, feminine dresses, and allowed men to open doors for me, that somehow I lessened the female gender. I disagreed.
There's a power in being a woman. It has nothing to do with hair color, breast size, weight, or age. It comes from the softness of being feminine, and within that softness is a power equal to, if not stronger than, the warrior spirit of a man. A man becomes speechless at the sight of a confident woman, who knows who she is. When that same woman looks at a man with love and the need to be loved, his heart belongs to her. Since the beginning of time men's Achilles heels have been women and the fear of women's power caused femininity to be suppressed.
Somehow in our need to find equality, women haven't turned to this power, instead they've tried to become more like warrior men. I think this has left many men wondering who they are supposed to be in relationships, in the work place, and in life. They've been asked to be softer, more emotional, and many are unsure if they are supposed to open a door for a lady and pay for dinner or if they're insulting the woman when they do so. It has created a generation of lost gender identities and many men have become what my friend calls, 'flow boys', I'll go with whatever you want me to be. A therapist once told me, "We are trying so hard to build our girls that we are burying our men." This leads to women being frustrated, men being lost, and no one being able to be who they really are. In our search for equality as women, we've somehow decided that men need to be less or different. How is this any better?
Why can't we have equality in the workplace while still being feminine? Why do we have to demand that men help out in the household when both partners go to work? Shouldn't this be common sense? Do we have to give up being female and the softness we need in order to have this equality? There has to be a better way that allows us to be ourselves while still leading.
I was speaking to my friend Jane from Midlifeblogger, and she said, "The definition of feminism, is that women should be able to be whatever they need to be without judgment while being treated equal to their male counters. If a woman wants to stay home and raise her babies she can still be a feminist." Then she added, "You my dear, are the face of the new feminism. You can be independent, travel the world, like who you are, speak your mind, and still allow yourself to be a feminine, soft spirit."
The more I go after my dreams and seek a life where I believe I can have it all, the more comfortable I become with who I am. I've come to realize that I love being a woman and as I embrace my femininity, my softer side, I feel more power in who I am.
For many years, men have dominated. There are women who believe that it is our time to be on top and that men should be lessened in order to achieve balance. In truth, women aren't conquerors and to become like men would only create more masculine imbalance. In our softness we need to see, that it is in accepting one another for the true spirits we are that we can find balance, equality, and happiness.