The nerd in me REALLY wants that title to be “Empowering Women <> dis-empowering men”. WordPress won’t listen to that.
Our world has a problem with how women are treated. Some people, even some whole communities, feel that women hold a lesser space in the universe than men. Naturally, I feel this is bullshit. It’s so pervasive that some people have started movements to empower women. Hell yeah, I say! Certain leaders in the pole industry are taking up this cause around the subject of pole dance empowering women. Awesome, I say! However, I’ve recently heard some “feminine power” leaders in the pole world speak in ways that actually made me feel defensive for men. There was a sense of blame put on men that I felt was unfounded, or at the least so broad or so far exaggerated that it seemed unfair. It certainly didn’t describe my husband or many of the men I know. It seriously bothers me when female empowerment comes at the expense of men – whether or not it’s intentional. (One woman said she “worships at the alter of men” but repeatedly used the present tense to describe how “men treat women.” I’d like to think the blanket derision was unintentional.)
I’ve commented on men in pole before (a good read if you haven’t seen it), but this is broader than that. It’s not only about the pole community – it’s every community.
A phrase just came to mind that really pisses me off in this context: balance of power. It implies that for my power to grow, yours has to diminish. I don’t buy that. There’s a starvation theory happening there. “Not enough to go around.” Seriously? When a friend accomplishes something challenging, when a family member earns a big paycheck, when a stranger gets applauded for their show – was that empowering? I should hope so. And did it cost me power? Ridiculous.
In the realm of “female empowerment”, when a women speaks her heart, or embraces her weight, or pursues a job traditionally held by a man, or owns her sexuality – that’s empowering. Sometimes those things have to rise up out of a conflict where someone doesn’t really want them to have that power, and I think that’s where these public speakers are coming from – trying to encourage women to be brave enough to stand in the face of conflict. But to say “men did this”? No, it’s not that easy. Sometimes it’s not men who oppressed them. Sometimes other women aren’t even the oppressors, though that’s disturbingly common as well. Sometimes we are the oppressors of ourselves.
Whether we grew up with disengaged families or families that doted on us, whether we were very poor, or very rich, whether we suffered abuse or were treated like royalty, whether life was more hard or less hard (growing up is always hard) – we own who we are in this moment. I speak for myself when I say I am my own worst oppressor.
I NEED to hear about empowerment. I NEED to learn how to love me and value me and not feel the need to explain or justify myself. But I do NOT need to hear how men put me in this place and it’s them I have to strive against. I do NOT need to feel I am a current victim. It’s my own self-doubt I have to strive against, and it doesn’t matter where it came from because I don’t need to dwell on it. If it was a recent hurt that caused me pain, of course that has to be dealt with, but most of the difficulties that I need to overcome are very old and are simply part of that vast fabric called “the past” which informs who I am but does not dictate who I am.
I’ve seen women handle this kind of empowerment so beautifully; I know it can be done well. Let us learn empowerment to be all that we can be WITHOUT trying to steal the power of others. Are there assholes who need to have their power taken away so that a woman can succeed? Absolutely. Can you tell by someone’s genitals that they are an asshole? No, you sure can’t. Let us love and nurture the men we know and empower them to be their best, too!
Thank you for reading this rant. Now back to your regularly scheduled pole shenanigans!