This has been my theory for as long as I can remember because I can remember thinking this when I was about four years old.
In fact, as soon as I learnt about Freud’s phallic stage in psychosexual development I realised he had focussed on the penis and sexual power, after all he was a man, he had mother issues and men do seem very proud of their appendage. But they are the only ones who want that funny little dangly thing between their legs.
Women don’t suffer from penis envy! What women have truly sought was the same level of personal power. The dictionary defines power as: ‘the ability to act.’
Men have an automatic authority over their own lives and they know it. The first book I ever began to write and will
eventually finish and publish one day was to interview men about being men.
This is what I learnt from their words: To be a successful man they are expected to make decisions, be in charge, control
their lives (and others), be wise, knowledgeable and achieve success in their work, in their marriages, to their family and as a father.
At the age of four I knew I wanted the same freedom to choose my destiny. The freedom to grow into all I could be and the freedom to be fully responsible for myself.
I grew up under the guidance of a beautiful man who indoctrinated me with beliefs I wanted to have. He reiterated over and over that I didn’t need a man to make me whole or to do anything for me because unlike what I would be told and have role modelled all around me my gender didn’t make me incapable of doing anything I damn well wanted to do.
As a grown woman this means, yes a man is welcome to share my life as an equal. Yes a man is welcome to enhance my life as I enhance his. Yes a man is welcome to love and support me to be my best just as I will love and support him to be his best.
But I have never wanted to need a man because I felt incomplete on my own. If I couldn’t I love myself then no man was
going to make that possible until I believed in myself. If I couldn’t respect myself I was more likely to attract in a man who wouldn’t respect me either because I didn’t know how to let someone - anyone - treat me with respect. If I couldn’t accept my innate worth then no man could support my crumbling foundation to build a self-concept that was real, honest and stable. If my self-judgement poisoned my self-perception then no amount of love and acceptance from a man would be allowed in to nurture my existence.
Too many women have been raised in families and societies that never placed value on them as individuals. The generations of women who were born in the times when boys were the preferred gender will know the pain of feeling worthless purely because they were a girl.
Traditions die hard. Girls are still ‘given away’ when they marry but the boy isn’t. The female gender has been owned and
controlled for generations.
Women’s liberation has strived to unshackle the limitations. Yet most weeks there are stories on TV or posted on Facebook about young women humiliating themselves or participating in debasing activities to keep the ‘cool’ boy. This makes me question whether young women have got the message that they are in fact worthy, lovable, to be respected or mastered the ability of self-acceptance.
Women are still assessed on their capacity to attract a mate.
Believing that having power means acting the same as men has resulted in young women coming off second best because women are still labelled whores and sluts for their sexual behaviours and men studs.
Men and women are different. And that’s okay. We’re allowed to be. We can have different roles, different innate
abilities and different body shapes. But that doesn’t mean we have less value and worth or more value and worth. It also doesn’t mean that we miss out on being in control of our own lives.
Gender doesn’t determine our capacity to have personal power, society and cultural mores does that.
We make up that society and we do have the ability to act in ways that displays personal power in our lives. As women
acting like men doesn’t equal having power. Acting in ways that displays our personal truth is what tells others that we are in charge of our lives.
How do you think your gender has been used to limit your self-expression?