Being a strong, powerful woman doesn't mean you have to be tough, overworked and unattractive. Karen Salmansohn explains how power and success come from being in touch with your feminine, sexy and loving side.
True story: My friend David got mugged at a bank machine by a beautiful, leggy, sexy woman.
"Actually, it might have been a transvestite," David corrected himself.
"It's okay if you were mugged by a woman," I told him, smiling.
Now embarrassed, David said, "The more I think about it, the more I'm sure he was a transvestite."
I laughed but was also intrigued by why David would be so embarrassed to be mugged by a beautiful, leggy, sexy woman, but not a man.
The story represents what I view as an ongoing problem for women today. There's still a disconnect between a woman being "beautiful, leggy, sexy" and being powerful—even in a low-level career like mugger.
Almost from the introduction of the word "feminism" into our world, the definition has become corroded to mean something less than complimentary than its original intent. Somewhere along the line, to be a feminist started to mean a woman who's basically unattractive both in looks and spirit.
I find this negative connotation to be shameful and highly unhelpful. Women could truly benefit from finding a more inspiring word than "feminism" to stand by, as well as stand for, when seeking to become our most powerful and successful selves. We don't have to make a choice between feminine or powerful and successful. We can be all those things.
With this in mind, I'd like to put forth that starting today, the word "feminism" be updated to become the new word "feminine-ism."
What does it mean to be a feminine-ist?
My goal is to inspire women to embrace being their fullest potential selves—feminine, sexy, warm, loving—everything the word "feminine" stands for, alongside strong qualities like powerful and successful.
It's a personal mission of mine—evident in a range of my books—to help empower women to live their most fulfilling, self-loving and happiest lives. And so it especially excites me to help get this word "feminine-ism" into the vernacular.
And I feel this word's arrival is coming just in time.
I see too many women these days rushing around trying to do it all, but meanwhile they're not being it all! They're not being their fullest, best feminine selves. Instead, they're being tougher than they'd like to be as well as more exhausted, strident and irritable, thereby feeling unattractive inside and out. All while suffering from guilt over the stuff they did not manage to squeeze into their over-booked schedules.
I know this firsthand because I've personally experienced this over-emphasis on doing, doing, doing so I might become my most powerful writer-girl self. Which is why my firsthand knowledge is an unmanicured hand and a lot of the time I feel exhausted, emotionally depleted, and not my most sexy or feminine self and therefore not my most powerful self either.
The irony? Whenever I do take the time to tap into "feminine-ism"—this energy of simply being by indulging in a meditative and self-nurturing manicure, a facial or a hot bubble bath—that's when I feel my most powerful.
As a card-carrying "feminine-ist," I am here to tell you that feeling sexy is what helps me to be my most powerful and successful self, and being powerful and successful also helps me feel damn sexy! As "feminine-ists," we definitely don't need to make the choice between feminine or powerful and successful. We should and must try to embrace both choices simultaneously.
With this in mind, I've got to say, I love the idea of bringing the words "feminine-ist" and "feminine-ism" into our common parlance. Hopefully they open up an important dialog about how to consciously tap into our true feminine energies as we strive to succeed in accomplishing our goals and dreams.
Another good thing about bandying about words like "feminine-ist" and "feminine-ism"? Men can join in the bandying!
With the word "feminism," it might have been embarrassing for a man to say he was a supporter because it might sound like he was admitting to supporting of a group of controlling, bitchy women. But with new pro-sexiness, pro-sweetness, pro-balance words like "feminine-ist" and "feminine-ism," what's not for a man to love?
Plus, these are words men can and should stand by, and stand for, in their own lives. I can definitely envision my fiancé proudly calling himself a "feminine-ist" because he's in touch with both his feminine and masculine sides, and he loves when I am able to tap into this dynamic duo of sexiness and powerfulness in myself.
Why it's important to be in touch with your feminine side
It seems that America has been fighting against the perception of being feminine for a while now—wanting to appear tough and strong, and afraid of appearing weak by admitting a need for help. If you compare America to countries in the East, you'll see what I mean. If America were to be personified, it would definitely be a real guy's guy—running around, talking loudly, smacking you on the back in greeting, occasionally belching—a lovable, rambunctious guy's guy.
Now, imagine a country like India personified. It would embrace more feminine qualities like stillness, meditativeness and spirituality.
My point? All of us—both men and women—need to consciously try to get in better touch with our feminine energies. When we deny the existence and the benefits of either our male or female sides, we exhaust our spirits since each side is the shadow of the other. As the Taoists say, "When you pick up one end of the stick, the other end comes up with it."
Any attempts to fight against or ignore either our male or female sides wastes as much energy as a cat chasing after its shadow on a wall. We need to stop thinking about picking an either/or when it comes to "doing" versus "being" and learn to accept and develop both these actions.
The truth is, it's both possible and highly rewarding to be a "feminine-ist" and embrace both feminine energies and masculine energies at the same time— like walking while chewing gum and checking your BlackBerry.
Karen Salmansohn is a best-selling author known for creating self-help for people who wouldn't be caught dead reading self-help. Get more information on finding a loving happier-ever-after relationship in her book Prince Harming Syndrome.
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Printed from Oprah.com on Saturday, May 25, 2013
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