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The Powers That Be (6th WaoW)

I'm not sure exactly what the phrase "female empowerment" means, but I am guessing it has to do with women and with power and having opportunities to wield our powers. I have been thinking a lot, in the past year or two, about the unique powers I have as a woman and what it looks like to use them well. Because our powers (like all powers) can be, and often are, used selfishly or inappropriately. And figuring this out as a woman is quite complicated. Sometimes I run from it in fear and sometimes I abuse it, and every so often, I find that delicate middle-ground.

In my mental meanderings, I've identified four specific areas that I would like to someday navigate powerfully and yet selflessly. I'm not sure that these are explicitly "feminine" arenas, but I do think that the way we approach each as women is distinctly different than the way a man would.

So let's jump in.

The power of sexuality.
From my conservative church upbringing, I internalized an ideal that thought good Christians would essentially be asexual beings until their wedding nights, at which point they would be rewarded with an easy and flawless and fantastically mutual sexual relationship for the rest of their lives. This is naivety in its extreme.

At the other end of the spectrum are the new wave of feminists like those in Female Chauvinist Pigs, whose philosophy seems to be not only to embrace their sexuality, but to flaunt and commodify it; something men have been doing for us for millenia. I find this problematic for many of the same reasons that I find pornography problematic. In fact, I think it's worse, because we are selling ourselves.

So where is the middle ground? What does it look like to live as a woman, not a man or an "it"? What does it look like to live comfortable in our skin and the reality of our sexuality without being consumed by our sexual identity? How does our sexuality integrate with the other places we find our identity?

The ability to nurture.
At one extreme is the "mothering" syndrome that feels compelled to coddle and cradle every person who comes across her path. She pulls people in and can't grant freedom. She stifles in her desire to be needed.

On the other end are women whose words habitually cut, tear or manipulate. I am convinced that pre-teen girls are some of the most evil beings on earth; a large part of it is because they have discovered the emotional/social power of their words, but have no moral compass to drive them north.

It is not that I think men are incapable of nurturing or fostering the emotional well-being and growth of others. But there is something notably different in the capacity of women to build up (and tear down) those she interacts with. How do we do it? When do we speak, when do we give space? What does it look like to be a woman known for genuine, life-giving encouragement? How do we hold back from the temptation to subtly manipulate those in our sphere of influence?

Phew. This is a lot. I'm going to take a break here. We'll continue tomorrow. 
But no need to wait to offer thoughts or questions or comments!

How do you ladies who are older and/or wiser than I am walk powerfully and humbly through life? 
Men, do you think at all about empowering women? What does that mean/look like in light of what I've shared?


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