Dear Feminists, I realize that it comes from a good place: Empowerment. Confidence. Success. But your way of achieving this has caused some real problems. Take, for example,…
The modern feminist narrative places career at the top of the success meter. By their standard, net worth, membership in the C-suite and “breaking through the glass ceiling” of a man’s world account for a successful life.
Now, after several decades of feminist orthodoxy, this standard deserves a reassessment. Women should be asking questions like, “Is a career the only metric for success?” “What other elements comprise success?” “How do I personally measure success?”
Success ought to be measured in a holistic fashion which sees the full picture of the human spirit. The human spirit has two components: doing and being. Humans are not meant to simply work, but to relate and to thrive within communities. We require relationships. We are meant to live life together as friends and as families.
Unfortunately, the feminist success narrative ignores this reality. Instead, it only emphasizes quantifiable success like corporate clout and management responsibilities. However, many pieces of life which bring fulfillment are not quantifiable. For example, you can’t quantify dollar for dollar how a friendship impacts your life, or the joy of a happy family, or the stability of a healthy marriage. On the negative side, you also cannot quantify the impact of loneliness due to lack of friendships, or the isolation from a broken marriage.
Denying the existence of these “unquantifiable” pieces of success comes at a high cost: our emotional health. While a career can provide a sense of purpose and stability, nothing can replace the feeling of being known, welcomed and loved.
Creating a life which leaves margin for relationships should be applauded, not criticized. Women today should not be forced into thinking that their lives require a binary choice: career or family. Instead, a spectrum of options exists for them. Some women choose a non-corporate job with more flexibility in order to care for an aging parent. Some women choose to work part-time in order to care for their children. Others create a home-based business so they can be more available for their families. Others continue working after the children are in school. Others choose to forgo a career in order to fully devote their time to their families.
In various life phases (married, not married, children, no children) women have options in how their career intersects with their lives. They should also be free to choose how wide their margins are for relationships, friendships, family and children.
The feminist narrative ignores the reality that for good or for ill, relationships shape us. A good or bad marriage, a healthy or unhealthy relationship, a distant or close child…all these things comprise the basic components of human life, happiness and fulfillment.
While many women continue to measure their success solely through their career achievements, the relational aspects of life should not be discounted. Ultimately our culture should enlarge the definition of life success to include positive and healthy relationships. Our culture should also be more accepting of those women who choose flexible careers (or no career) in order to accomplish that. The career-at-all-costs ethic deserves a reassessment. Women should have the freedom to ask their own questions about life priorities and be able to pursue lives which include non-quantifiable successes like friendships, relationships and family.
Also published on Patriot Post, March 7, 2019
Image credit: Bavorndej/BigStock
While the celebration of female empowerment stands as a constant theme in commercials and advertisements, what does it actually mean?
Oxford English Dictionary defines empowerment as “The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” Yet, according to Merriam-Webster, empowerment means, “The act or action of empowering someone to do something.”
These two definitions represent the choice women face as “empowered” people. Do they control their own power, or do they use their power to help others? True empowerment should reject self-focused empowerment and should instead empower others to see their value and worth. True strength lies in helping others and builds a better world for the common good.
However, modern female empowerment focuses on control. Advice like “Never let a man win” or “Don’t defer to a man” represents this type of controlling empowerment. For feminists, relations with men have and will always be hostile. “You can never fully trust him. He’s a man.”
Yet, how would our relationships differ if we believed that men had value and dignity? How would it change if we believed that our relationships with men were team efforts, not competitions? What if we actually sought to mend our relationships, to bring out the best in each other and to affirm our respective strengths? What if we empowered and encouraged each other to be better people?
Feminists cannot envision a world of cooperative rather than competitive gender relations. They cannot imagine a world where men and women work together in unique but equally-valuable relationship roles. Yet empowerment for the common good sees all human beings as valuable end seeks to encourage, rather than demean men.
Further, the keystone to feminist empowerment has become abortion. Why? Because it results in (so-called) sexual freedom and control. “Your life will be over if you have this baby.” “You can never advance in a career if you have this child.” “You should live like you want.” However, abortion disempowers the weakest and most vulnerable among us, because it views other human beings as blocking the goal of self-actualization. Yet, true empowerment can never be gained by disempowering the weak. Rather, true empowerment gives strength to the weak and defends those who cannot speak for themselves. What if, rather than supporting abortion, women chose to empower the weak by fighting against the exploitation of women and children by the abortion industry? Advocating for the rights of the vulnerable and the pre-born empowers others for the common good.
As women, we have superpowers, but we must use them to fight for the good, not to fight against others. If we do that, we can leave the world a better place. The true purpose of empowerment should ultimately reside in empowering others. For it is in giving that we receive, in fighting for the good that we give to others. It is in freeing others that we free ourselves. It is in empowering others, that we receive our own empowerment.
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