Over the years, the word ‘feminists’ has gained negative connotations. This is mostly because there have been a new crop of so-called ‘advocates’ who take advantage of their rights and use unfair means to establish a balance of power between the masculine and feminine. As a respectful feminist, you can still stand up against bigotry and exploitation without having to play the victim, and succumbing to aggression and deceit. Learn four ways to adopt this approach. (Estimated reading time: 5 minutes)
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”— Sheryl Sandberg
The term ‘feminism’ has become a loaded word. Over the years, all the political, economic, and social movements that have stemmed from it, have given the term a lot of baggage. Consequently, many people, including women, have developed an aversion towards its ideologies and refuse to be associated with it.
The official definition of feminism is ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of equality of sexes.’ During recent years, however, it’s morphed into a self-serving belief system caused by conflict and a false superiority amongst women who feel justified in berating men.
From this underbelly of feminism emerged a new generation of women who are taking advantage of their rights. This new crop of so-called ‘advocates’ have forgotten the real purpose of feminism – to establish a balance of power between men and women. Feminism protects women’s rights by acting against any sign of misogyny, chauvinism, and male dominance.
The vestiges of a male-dominated society still loom today. The recent #metoo movement that spread virally in 2017, raising awareness for the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and the objectification of women, especially in the workplace, is strong evidence of this. These efforts are needed until women cease to feel marginalized and subjugated by male authority.
It’s hard not to feel bitter and resentful when you’re not treated with respect and are made to feel inferior just because you’re a woman. I grew up in a patriarchal society with male family members who still cling to old-fashioned views of a woman’s place in society. I’ve often heard them say things like, “women should learn to cook to feed their families. Women shouldn’t read too much or travel solo. All respectable women should have children and get married by the age of thirty.”
Hearing these words used to make me feel sick to my stomach, bringing up feelings of anger and frustration within me. The visceral experience of being exposed to blatant bias against women in my own backyard made it simpler for me to really understand the true essence of feminism.
What it taught me is that feminism is ultimately about freedom of choice. The freedom to choose who to vote for, which career path to follow, whether we would like to have kids or not, which countries we want to live in, and whom we choose to marry or date.
Feminism is about knowing our birthright to choose whatever aligns most with our values and mission, and taking a stand whenever that’s challenged. It’s about tapping into the grace, wisdom, and abundance of our inner-Goddess and embodying all the light aspects of feminine power.
Balanced feminism requires an understanding that we need both masculine and feminine energy to establish equilibrium. Both are opposite yet complementary forces, like light and dark, or the Ying and Yang of Taoism. We need a healthy blend of the passive, nurturing aspect of feminine energy along with the active, extroverted energy of the masculine. It’s from the harmonious interaction of these two energies that harmony is achieved.
As respectful feminists, we should continue to stand up against bigotry and exploitation, but we can do it without having to play the victim, and succumbing to the lower energies of aggression and deceit.
Here are four ideas on how you can achieve the balanced stance of a respectful feminist:
1. Know your rights and speak up for yourself and other women: A balanced feminist knows her fundamental rights and is willing to stand up for them if she feels that they’re being encroached on by others. This can be difficult for some, especially if they’re in weaker positions such as lacking financial stability, career prospects, or have low self-worth. While it may not be easy to get out of these toxic circumstances, there is always a way out. We have to be resourceful and courageous to do what’s needed. If you’re in a stable position, use your power and independence to advocate for women in disadvantaged situations.
2. Respect the strengths of the masculine: Feminism isn’t about demonizing men or making them a target for false accusations. It’s important to realize that masculine energy has many strengths such as protectiveness, passion, competitiveness, confidence, assertiveness, deference to truth over feelings, and rationality. Knowing that the masculine is a vital part of the energetic makeup of the world will enable us to respect the men in our lives and allow them to display the positive aspects of their masculine traits. Allowing men to take the lead and provide for us in certain situations is a healthy practice.
3. Focus on becoming a woman of value: Injustice still permeates the system because of the inequality between sexes. That’s why we, as women, need to do less complaining and playing the victim, and focus more on taking strategic steps that lead to lasting change. We don’t need divas seeking attention from others by branding themselves as feminists. We need women who are willing to roll up their sleeves, jump into the arena, and put in the hard work to shift perceptions. We need to focus on setting an example for others by becoming women of value – women who devote our energy to personal development as well as making a difference to the world around us.
4. Balance the masculine and feminine energies within you: Everyone has a blend of both masculine and feminine energies. We can consciously bring these into balance by noticing when we’re being overly masculine (aggressive, dominating, too competitive) or overly feminine (docile, passive, too yielding). The goal is to take on the light aspects of each side and eliminate the dark ones. Balance can be established between men and women when both strive to connect with these opposing aspects in themselves. A balanced feminist is comfortable with displaying traditionally masculine traits such as logical thinking, objectivity, and assertiveness, blending it with her sensitive, intuitive, aesthetically inclined feminine side. She realizes that expressing both sets of traits are equally essential when it comes to becoming a high-functioning individual in the world.
Women have come a long way when it comes to earning the rights that we enjoy today, but there is still a lot of work left to be done. We’re now on the brink of an empowered phase in human history. We can create a seismic shift in the collective consciousness if every girl and woman focuses on becoming the best version of herself while also devoting her energy towards improving the conditions of her fellow sisters.
All my best on your journey,
Question: What does a balanced and respectful feminist look like to you? What are their defining traits and which ones would you like to incorporate into your personality makeup?
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Joanne Murphy says
I’m glad you tackled this contreversial topic in your own authentic voice Seline.
I have had this kind of discussion many times with family. they still see feminism as a bad thing. Despite what I tell them and despite the evidence to the contrary.
Thank you for sharing this! It has given me hope and some more things to try and talk to my family about. Thank you!
Rhonda Murphy says
You too, Joanne?!!
I thought I was the only one to have these kinds of discussions with my family and relatives. Sooo nice to know they are not the only ones who just don’t seem to get it and it is nice to know I am not totally alone either!
Yes it is controversial and it did stir some people up on social media. But I felt it is a much needed discussion. Thanks for your support!
Pauine Roberts says
Interesting thoughts here Seline!
I may not agree with it all but you make some interesting points but you have made me take a second look at the idea of the feminist movement and what it really is like and what it involves. Thank you for sharing and for putting this out. As others have said this is a touchy topic for some but it is nice to see a place where even different views and ideas can come and share and learn from each other. Keep it coming.