Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving with some friends and all of our kids. As it happened, we were 3 couples, and all of us had female children. On much of the evening, the men of the couples would be hanging out while the women were cleaning up and getting food to serve and basically chit-chatting in the kitchen. We had a great time and no one really even noticed the division of labour, which to us, didn’t seem in any way strange. In fact, in my relationship now, it’s my boyfriend who will normally be the one found in the kitchen as I entertain the guests since he’s such a superstar chef and really has a passion and a gift for cooking (the two normally going together I’ve found). Hence the first time that any of us hit upon anything that specifically highlighted the big gender divide was when we began to speak of our children. All three of us women were working in careers where we had seeming flexibility, which could also become all-encompassing. All three of us, unlike our male partners, felt a tug of guilt about the time that our careers took away from the time we spent with our kids; but we also loved having our careers and would never give them up.
I, for one, spent some time as a stay-home mom and realised very soon that being a housewife wasn’t for me. That said, I have several friends who are wonderful at being stay-home moms and whose husbands greatly appreciate the wonderful service that they give to their families. But even though all three of us women greatly enjoyed our careers, and working, we also constantly felt guilty when the work-life balance was off and our time with our kids was down. It’s rare that I find men having that same feeling of guilt about working, although, more so now with the advent of feminism and the changes with the extremity of sex roles. I can’t imagine men of my grandfather’s generation feeling any guilt about working, as their main role in those days was to support their family.
That brought me to an interesting thought: Feminism has given us women the right to choose how we live our lives. We can now decide to work if we want to work, or to stay home and care for our families if we prefer to go that route; we can even do both and go from one to the other and back. Feminism has also helped men actually. Men like my boyfriend, who enjoy cooking, can now be the main cook in a family if they want to. A couple can share the housework and the child-rearing: which in fact was the case in all three of us couples that evening. Feminism gave society a lot and it is a wonderful advancement that has significantly propelled society forward. One can see how countries where women don’t have the power of choice are less advanced in many ways than areas where they do. The reason for this is that we women think and experience the world differently from men so we can offer a different input and way of working things out that, together with our male counterparts’ masculine energy, moves things forward.
There, I said it. We are women; we are not the same as men. We have amazing differences that should be highlighted and that are demonstrable ever since we’re very young. The way the little girls in the party were acting and playing together is very different to how a group of boys would act. One of the parents even pointed out how much more calm the group of girls was than a similar group where there had been a mix of both sexes. The plan of feminism was to give women choice; it was not to take away what makes us special and different as women in an attempt to make us a different version of men. Femininity is, and always should be, a part of us as women. It is part of what makes us special and unique, and what men constantly say they look for in a woman. Femininity is an additional string to our bow within Feminism. It is a strength and a power that only we, as women, can access and make use of, and it makes us special.
Over time, many women have come to believe that the only way to be truly respected by men is to be more masculine. But I think that’s losing the entire idea of what Feminism aimed to do initially in giving us free choice. Why are we taking that choice of how to live our lives away from ourselves by giving up on one key aspect that makes us so special and so well-regarded by men? I have seen women who use their strength of femininity to get what they want (meaning softness, sweetness, allowing the man to make some key decisions and showing him that they respect his opinion, rather than pushing him with aggression and nagging into what they want him to do) be much more successful at getting what they’re after than women who take the aggressive, masculine approach and try to wheelbarrow men into their point of view.
Many of the strong Feminists today worry that they are still not respected or treated equally by men. However, it is only us ourselves that can allow anyone to disrespect us – and this is true for women as much as for men. When a person is fully confident, no words of disrespect will harm her ego, and eventually that strength within will break the common patterns that females have found themselves in and so bravely fought against. That is the goal that we should be striving for: not a temporary fix of women achieving the same position as men (which should not even be disputed!), but empowering women to never belittle themselves in order to reach their goals, whether in life or in love.
We are living in a wonderful modern time when people have demanded to be heard and are voicing their positions in an effort to truly be understood. Look at politics today: the many discontented people were able to use the power of their vote to change substantially the course of their country and even of the world around them. With feminism, we have the ability to use our voice as much as men do, without ever having to be entirely like them. There is no need to give up the wonderful traits that we possess: such as warmth, open heartedness, and tenderness. These qualities, which have always been appreciated by bachelors looking for a woman who is wife material, are in truth some of the biggest strengths that an individual may possess.
Feminism is a movement towards equality between men and women. Equality, however is not about ‘equating’ the two, but, in fact, embracing the uniqueness of both as equally powerful, equally great, equally intelligent, and equally capable. The key then is not equality in every aspect of life, but a cooperative balance and understanding between the two genders, which naturally produces equality.
Now you may wonder what is Femininity then and why it is so important? If we look it at it anthropologically, the woman’s body is the bearer of children and in that bearing she has to be nurturing. She is also the one who has the ability to provide the initial food for her baby. Of course modern energies do not work entirely according to nature’s intentions and men are often just as involved in the nurturing and feeding aspects of raising kids as their female counterparts (one of the benefits of the Feminism movement is that they now have the ability and the right to this involvement as it is no longer just the woman’s domain) but nor can, or should, the traditional feminine energies be overlooked or ignored entirely. I’ve seen, both from interviewing men and from speaking to successful couples, that Femininity is one of the key energies that makes any union work; and since it is innately and intrinsically female we have to understand the mysteries of Femininity.
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