Stepping into your Power

The recent Super Bowl halftime show has sparked some great conversation this week about the empowerment vs. the objectification of women.

I don’t know if you saw the show, but it was phenomenal, truly a celebration of women, of music, and of life. It actually made me teary – it was that good.

Much of the talk this week has revolved around the sexuality of the performance, and the debate about whether this constituted female empowerment or female objectification rages on this week.

I’ve read articles that say that J Lo and Shakira commanded power by deciding on their terms that they want to show off not just the way their bodies look, but all their bodies are capable of doing after years of rigorous training. I’ve read other articles that say the show objectified women and fed a sickness in our culture that no matter how ‘enlightened’ we get, never seems to go away.

There’s an argument, one that I wholeheartedly agree with, that we should be able to wear what we want and express ourselves the way we want without being harassed by men or more importantly, slut-shamed by women. This is an important conversation, and it’s one we need to keep alive. I also think that women should be able to take a short cut through a park after dark without looking over our shoulders constantly, ready to fend off an attack.

But in most places, we don’t take the shortcut after dark, we choose a different route.  Just because we should be able to walk through a park after dark without fear, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for our safety given the state of the world right now.

Here’s the definition of ‘empower’ from Dictionary.com:

Empower (verb)

  1. to give power or authority to; authorize
  2. to enable or permit

By this definition for women to be empowered, power must be given to them.  But by whom?

What we’re talking about here isn’t power given by someone else, it’s about stepping into a power that we already possess.

Taking ownership of your sexuality is hugely powerful, and I honestly believe that all of us, if we choose to, should be able to express our sexuality in the way we dress, dance, and live our lives. But if the desired outcome is helping women step into their own power in a culture that objectifies us, should we be looking at a variety of ways to express our feminine power? How do we increase the capacity of women to make powerful choices without feeding the objectification of women that has made everyday life unsafe for so many of us?

Feminine power comes in countless forms. Any time you choose something for YOU, you are stepping into your power. Growing a human and feeding it is powerful. Sitting at the head of a boardroom table is powerful. Staying home with your kids is powerful. Growing your own food is powerful. And…showing off your amazing and beautiful body IS a powerful choice!

That’s why this question is so difficult. I think Shakira and J Lo should be free to create and offer exactly what they want to without condemnation. The question is, like walking in the park after dark, just because you should be able to, in light of the way things are in the world, would it be worth considering taking a different route in service of creating a safer culture for all women?

I’d love to hear some of the things that make you feel empowered as a woman…

Photo: Pete Longworth

1 Comment

  • Travelling on my own, changing a tyre, riding a motorbike, Most of all saying no – I was brought up, that no, was a bad word, rude, impolite, Good girls don’t disagree, they say yes and give more on top of the original request. Now, I can say no, if I want to, without an excuse.
    Love your work Julie!

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