Embracing Femininity - Part 1
Not too long ago I saw something in a woman’s Facebook group that really disturbed me. To set the stage--a professional woman in a leadership position was asking advice on things she could do to show her office she appreciated them. She then proceeded to say she was hesitant to make and bring in home-baked goods for fear of setting women back 50 years…
When I read that statement, I struggled to comprehend what she meant. Did she really think that bringing in chocolate chip cookies would degrade her authority in a professional atmosphere?
I wholeheartedly understand that as strong and influential women, we do not want to be viewed as the stereotypical “50’s housewife” but I disagree with the notion that we should eliminate our femininity to succeed in a leadership role.
All too often we, women, fight to be seen as equal, and somehow we distort the image of what equality actually looks like. We think that in order to achieve greatness we need to be more like men. To become CEO's, we need to embody these male traits and rid ourselves of anything that will be seen as too feminine, such as baking cookies.
In the military, I often see women high in command do everything in their power to assimilate with the men. They cut their hair short, refuse to wear any makeup, and won’t wear earrings (yes, I know these are very shallow examples). I know these aren’t the only feminine characteristics, but it’s disheartening to see strong and powerful women refuse to embody any “stereotypical” female characteristics.
Now, if this is a personal preference, then more power to you. I just hate the idea that a woman in a leadership role might feel the need to “look the part” aka masculine.
Despite popular belief, professionalism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. You can embrace your womanhood and still succeed. Will it be hard? Heck yes! The negative connotation associated with femininity took hundreds of years to develop. It’s not going to be erased in a few short years, nor will progress be hindered for embracing it.
So ladies, whether you classify yourself as a feminist or not, please stop vilifying femininity.
I am not here to argue about whether a woman belongs in the kitchen or in an office, that decision is personal, and belongs between a woman and her spouse. I am here to argue the notion that we must purge ourselves of everything that was once seen as “feminine” for the sake of success.
Don’t allow your fear of being judged to remove what it means to be the woman you were created to be. That can be a girly-girl or tomboy, baker or grill master, whatever you prefer it is your choice. Don’t let fear or culture steal that choice from you.
And regardless of your choice, we must end the cycle of judging women for their perceived effect on the feminist cause.
Ladies, don’t lose yourself in search of equality.
Bottom Line: You can bake homemade cookies for your whole office without destroying all progress made by women in the last 50+ years.