Thursday, May 3, 2012
Women Empower Themselves
In the name of women's empowerment, I recently read a book called Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts : Using the Power of Pleasure to Have Your Way with the World. It was a fun and interesting read, but I didn't find it particularly eye-opening. I am a Southern girl. I know all there is to know about flirting. I know how to be the most angelic bitch or the bitchiest angel or everything on the scale between. I know more than a little about the art of manipulation. And, this is where the rub begins for me. I hate, hate, hate it when anyone tells me that for a man to treat a woman like she deserves to be treated, she has to manipulate him into doing so. I'm sorry, but, if that's true, then sign me up for the other team right now.
Okay, not really, I'd have to get over my lack of sexual attraction for women and my intense sexual attraction for men, but that's not my point. I don't want to manipulate the men in my life. I enjoy flirting, and I don't mind hinting at what I want on occasion rather than stating it directly, but manipulation is where I draw the line.
I am who I am. I refuse to play games.
I refuse to falsely feed anyone's ego to get what I want. I won't pretend weakness to make a man feel more masculine. I'm not going to feign meekness. I'm not going to downplay my intelligence. I'm not going to smile when I want to cry. I'm not going to be all bubbly just because some men can't handle women who aren't "on" all the time. On the flip side, I also refuse to be all serious when all I want to do is be silly. I will no longer be what any man wants to be just to keep his attention, love, affection, attraction, whatever...
I want a man who loves me for me, and I want to love a man for who he is. Let's be perfectly clear about this. When we change to keep anyone in our lives, it doesn't work... that's right it does not work. We change and grow all the time, but when we spend all our lives trying to be what someone else wants us to be, or to make them think we are something we're not, it doesn't work. I played these games when I was younger. They lead to a lack of trust, a lack of intimacy, and a total lack of self-esteem.
And the whole idea of trying to make a man jealous to keep his attention... Oh, dear, are you kidding me? Again, games I played in college that nine times out of ten failed miserably. I learned a long time ago that if I have to make a man think he has competition to keep his interest, he's just way too much trouble. If his interest isn't about me but about winning me away from someone else, he's going to lose interest as soon as he's got me. And, that's not what I want. I want a man who sees me and wants more of what I have to offer. I have no desire to play manipulation games at all.
We, women, must take our power back regarding the derogatory words used about us and our bodies. (see Okay, So Sometimes I Really Am a B****, What of It?) We can own our own pleasure and be proud of it. We can and should be intimate with our own bodies. We have the power to have fun and let loose. We have the power to pursue our dreams without letting anyone get in the way. We can do all this. But, when we do so in a way that strings other people along, misleads people, strives to create jealousy, disrespects other people, or manipulates other people, we do everyone involved a disservice.
We should embrace all of who we are, but we should never let anyone else tell us who that should be, even the so called experts on women's empowerment. The woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom contributes just as much to the world as the woman who chooses to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The woman who chooses to remain child-free contributes just as much to the world as the woman with a house full of children. The woman who chooses to dedicate her life to hearth and home contributes just as much to the world as the woman who travels the globe learning about every culture. The woman who chooses to put her life on display to help others contributes as much to the world as the one who holds her privacy close. The woman who chooses to marry contributes as much as the woman who opts to remain single. The woman who chooses her own life is the woman with the strength no matter the choice she makes. The key concept in all of this is choice.
The moment a woman turns her life choices over to a man, or even another woman or her children, she stops contributing who she is to the world. That is a loss we can't afford. Women raise children and influence leaders. Women have within them and their influence the power to change the world whether they do so by rearing children who have respect for others as well as courage, ambition, and the ability to solve problems or by pursuing a career that puts the issues they most care about at the center of the conversation.
Whether women get in touch with their ability to stand in their fullness through silliness or seriousness is as much an individual choice as any other choice they make. I'm all for having a great time and not letting anyone dictate how to define that fun. We should never let anyone, even another woman, make us feel like how we choose to express our womanliness is somehow lacking. We need to stand full in our choices and simply say to the world "This is the woman I choose to be, you can love her, hate her, embrace her, leave her, admire her, ignore her, but I'll be damned before I let you disrespect her."
When I embrace what makes me feel most like the woman I want to be, the woman I am in my heart and soul shines for all the world to see. Try it, it just might work for you, too!
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted and four books of poetry. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.