Feminism is getting a lot of publicity right now. #metoo, Oprah’s speech... Women are writing some of the highest profile stories. And I am right behind feminism and the stopping of oppression and assualt and all the things that are big and uncomfortable. For those of us in less extreme situations there are also new voices and stories in the broader conversation of culture change and gender inequality.
One new wave of feminism could be called ‘humanism’ - which we could describe as being about the more subtle business of 'wellbeing and success for all regardless of gender'. The spiritually progressive might describe this as; integrating the feminine and the masculine sides in our personal psyche. It is more easily understood to be about honoring both feminine traits and masculine traits as equally valuable to society. But with the lag of patriarchal systems women are affected by subtle differences at home and in the office.
As women progressed into the workforce we perhaps heavily took on masculine traits to fit in, but now women are claiming their feminine power back to increase their wellbeing and bring a new confidence to calling out the 'little gestures' that reinforce gender inequality. Equality has become much more subtle than assualt for most of us (thank the goddess) and writer Jessica Bennet has some tips in her book Feminist Fight Club to help with less obvious behaviours that limit womens potential in the office like 'bro-priation' (when a guy steals your idea and he gets the kudos for it) and 'man-splaining'. Check that out if you're a business chick.
Another subtle effect of gendered culture is in our choice to marry and take our man's name. Confident CEO, Emily La Fave Olson, has shared her story of creating more equality in her business and personal relationship by developing her assertiveness and also her appreciation for being a woman. Foodzie founder and CEO, Emily La Fave Olson requested to be Co-CEO of the company that she helped found. She also is known for how she wanted to revert to her maiden name after marrying and the surprise name change that brought 'humanism' a step further. Her husband has taken her name as well as his, and vice versa! (It is a great story from Medium that you can read here or listen to the awesome podcast Heroine here. )
Feminism and humanism is a story we are still writing. By small daily conversations as well as big ones. Gender biases are still embedded in our cave-brain and I admit its potentially mind-numbing to consider all the angles of equality for all.
This practical, everyday ‘equality’ whilst tricky to navigate in the workplace for some, is even more so when children come on the scene. As Annabel Crab has noted in her book ,The Wife Drought, only 15% of full-time working mamas, compared to 76% of full-time working papas, have the type of full-time child rearing support that is really needed for ‘humans’ to thrive in the workforce (or for that matter politics). So, ‘where are the ‘wives’ for all those working mamas?’ is the question Annabel poses.
We live in times full of ideals that have not quite been realised and in certain fields women feel the pinch of the patriarchy more than others. Statistically most women will feel the pressure of ‘ideals’ when they have kids and they find themselves negotiating the rules of being in the ‘wife club’. But this article is not just about the facts of the mind, but the truth in the body. How?
Toward the end of the podcast interview with Emily La Fave Olson, Majo (Herione's smooth as silk interviewer) asked her - what would she advise women do who are in strongly patriarchal and highly masculinized work environments to maintain their feminine power? Emily's years of work in Silicon Valley gave her plenty of practice and I trust that she gives good advice! (in my home of 3 males funnily it is more relevant to me as a mother than in the workforce). What was it she advised?
She advised women to get into their bodies to help them stand in their Feminine Power rather than aligning to masculine ways of operating.
“Slow down, get into nature, yoga, meditation, dancing... Getting myself into my body helped give me a deeper knowing.. of my feminine. " - Emily La Fave, CEO, Foodzie
Yep, a successful CEO was not asking us to get in our head to be more analytical, singular-focussed & masculine to increase our success in the workplace, or to be more ballsy and toughen up to succeed. Her recipe for confidence, assertivenes and I would term self-leadership as an authentic woman using her feminine capacities, was embodiment and the knowledge that comes from that deep place. Unlike the advice someone once gave on stage at a womens conference in front of thousands of women - "when your’e in a challenging meeting ask yourself - what would a man do?" Emily chose a path to honor herself as a woman and trust her way of handling situations. Just as being human requires us all to trust our abilities and grow from challenges.
Remember, If you are on a change journey where you are wanting to see change and more equality in your life, you will need to move into communication and action just like in Emily’s story about change with her husband and Co-CEO. It is not just about dancing out your stressors, but about making requests and being calmly assertive. And in honoring your desires, you need the confidence to speak up about them. A body practice is a way to honor yourself and get to know yourself, and from that place be present, clear and confident.
Some tips if you are wanting to bring more equality into your life:
Reflect on your assumptions about who is supposed to do what in the home/office
Look at the boundaries you are setting/requests you are making or not making
Get informed with the situation at hand by reading some books on the topics that affect you
Share information with others around you
Take time to tune into your body to know yourself, access your knowledge and develop confidence in how you express yourself
Take the time to explore your pleasures
Value each others diverse perspectives & concerns
Speak up about your pleasure needs in the bedroom
Speak up about your ideas in the boardroom
Speak up about injustices to find solutions
If it interests you, look at the ideas of the 'divine' feminine/masculine that are more about inner qualities we both possess as humans
Get an extra boost of support with your own buddy, womens circle or even a feminist fight club group (boxing gloves not required!)
For more tips, research and inspiring stories of change take a read of these:
The Wife Drought - Annabel Crabb for all things home and business & Feminist Fight Club - Jessica Bennet for tips about those insidious work issues inside big organisations.
So, blessings for your journey into being the bravest, most loving, alive and satisfied version of you!
You can explore any of these areas in my coaching through my Vital Signs Assesment where we cover: Vital Body, Vital Sex, Vital Nourishment, Vital Purpose, Vital Smile, Vital Mind, Vital Relationships and Vital Soul.