During the last decades, women have been learning to not depend on men financially, socially and emotionally. Things have changed drastically since our great-grandmothers' times, and we can barely think of it as possible to live that way, when women had almost no rights, weren't granted education nor allowed to work many places. And actually, it's still that way in many countries in the world. Let's not forget it.
However, in spite of the big steps forward we've done in most Western countries, the pressure to get it all figured out and done by ourselves has become so unsustainable, that many women are finding themselves deeply dissatisfied, hopeless, lonely, lost and confused. What is going on? Is it just that we can't get any satisfaction? I believe the root of it is a huge misunderstanding.
When women started fighting for their rights, they had to stand up against male power. And yet, the only model they had available was that same male power they were fighting against. As a consequence, most women thought that, in order to free themselves and become strong and independent, they had to become like men. If they wanted to be free, they had to conquer what they believed made men free: independence, power, success, leading positions, money, physical strength and so on.
At the same time, many women went another way, the way of feminine empowerment. Even though their voices have been heard, they haven't become the ones most followed. Nowadays, many women are understanding how imitating male behavior hasn't worked and are slowly turning to those voices who haven't been listened to. We have been experimenting with being something we are not because we thought that was the only way. For centuries, we've been kept quiet, we've been forced to cover our bodies, we have been locked up in a prison of ignorance, and we've been used as machines to produce children. It's so clear where all this anger is coming from and, at a first sight, it makes sense to feel furious against those men who "did it to us." However, the result of using that anger against men is that we ended up using it against ourselves.
We go though our days keeping ourselves busy, not taking even one minute breaks, because we think that we need to perform, achieve and demonstrate that we are as good as men are. We work as top managers, CEOs and lead successful businesses. Men often feel threatened, simply because they are not used to seeing women in leading positions. This revolution hasn't taken deep roots yet, and the old way is often still the norm. That was expected; we can't change mindsets that are centuries old in only a few decades.
Many men don't feel comfortable having a woman as their boss or having their partner making more money than they do. Their problem — you might think. Oh no, this is our problem because if we could have men by our sides as our allies instead of enemies going to work wouldn't feel like going to the battle field every single day. We wouldn't get up in the morning feeling that we need to protect ourselves or we'll be upstaged. Even worse, many of us have taken on this behavior and got used to treating other women as enemies or competitors. The result? While many men fraternize and create strong teams, too many women aren't able to cooperate. We forgot about sisterhood and we are looking at each other through eyes blinded by mistrust. So we feel like we not only won't be supported by men, but also by other women. We learned to beware of our sisters. This is not our way. If it was, we'd be thriving. Instead, it seems that too many of us are striving.
Take a look at relationships: they have become just the next ring where we fight for power. Instead of empowering each other and live the relationship space as a creative one, we don't let our partner hold us, we struggle each moment to demonstrate that we don't need him and that we are fine on our own. Many of us forgot and rejected one of the essential components of our feminine energy: softness. When we think about being soft, we might think about being weak. Haven't we been called the "weaker sex?" We have indeed, and women have spent the last few decades trying to demonstrate that we aren't. In that process, we often lost our softness and warmth, our embracing energy and slow pace, our capacity to allow things and heal, to connect with nature and our deep soul.
The way most of us are living nowadays is simply non-sustainable on a long run. We left dark times behind us and we did it at the expenses of our truest nature. It's not that women shouldn't lead a country or work as mechanics or being rich and independent. The point is that we are not happy and fulfilled when we do all these things the way we are doing it now. I believe our challenge is to dig deep back into our softness, listen to our desire to slow down, laugh and dance. Our challenge is to do what we really want to do, the way we feel is right for us. Sometimes, it might mean to push to our limits and go beyond them, being in our masculine energy and getting things done. And more often, it might mean to say no to what seems appealing on the surface but won't feed our spirit, and say yes to what doesn't look so cool at a first glance, but will make our soul sing.
It's not an easy choice, and I also find it very challenging for myself to be determined and soft at the same time and to find my own way instead of comparing myself to what's out there. And yet, I can clearly sense how I'm really being more of myself, when I manage to come from that soft, still partially hidden corner inside me. This happens when I go for what I want while letting go of the need to get it and letting go of the need to push and elbow in the crowd, just staying in my commitment, smiling. What I learned for me, is that being soft as a woman means first to be soft to myself like when I allow myself to make mistakes, when I can hug myself and just let me be sad or silly and when I take some idle time to just watch my cats sleep.
Getting more and more done won't make us happier or more attractive. Our challenge as women is to take our light back into the world. We can do this together with other women and, fortunately, we can do this with men too, not in spite of them. However, our biggest responsibility is to do it our way. If we keep doing things the same way men have done, how will we find our own course and voice? And with this I don't mean that we need to change everything. But we need to take responsibility for ourselves and find our own voice. It's time to ask ourselves what our heart is craving for and how we can get it the way we want it and to turn to the women around us and start seeing them as sisters.
Our answers lie in our soft spots, in our smiles and sensuous gestures, in our wildness and grace, in our endless creativity and kindness, not in our restless minds.
More about women's rights on YourTango: