One thing I get asked a lot in my work is this — why am I still talking about male power and female power in respect of men and women when a) we all have a mixture of both, and b) we shouldn’t be tying particular qualities to particular genders of people? Surely we should just be focusing on true freedom for all to be who they are?
Well that’s a very good question, and it deserves an equally good answer.
Let me explain like this…
Say I want to get to London by train. People tell me I’m in Birmingham, so I believe I’m in Birmingham. So I go online and buy a ticket from Birmingham to London.
I go to the station, and try to use my ticket, only to be told that it isn’t valid for the journey and will not take me to London.
Why is this?
Because it turns out that I wasn’t in Birmingham after all. I was actually in Inverness, or maybe even Reykjavik!
My ticket from Birmingham to London is not sufficient to take me the length of the journey I need.
It turned out that despite what the world told me, I was starting in a completely different place. Unless I know precisely where I am starting from, I don’t know the correct ticket to buy to take me to my destination. So despite buying a ticket, I’m stuck at the station and going nowhere.
This is our problem and what holds us back from actually realising the freedoms we want.
We are now awakened enough as a society to know what we desire and deserve. Namely a society where each individual can be exactly that — individual. A unique combination of all polarities and qualities. A society where we are all FREE to be SAFE in expressing this, regardless of how we identify, and can do this free of prejudice, backlash and opposition.
Many try to just jump into that place! But alas it isn’t that simple.
There is a reason we can’t just jump to that Utopia of power freedom, and in my experience, it is only by truly understanding that reason, that we can find the key to that freedom.
While I could write a whole book on this, there are two main factors that need to be understood.
The Visceral Experience
Here’s the first important point:
We are all still subtly anchored to the benchmarks, definitions and restrictions of the past, and those benchmarks were very specific and gender-based.
The power dynamics of our world are patriarchal on the subtle levels. Any professional woman will have experienced this in a million different ways, and on a daily basis.
Those old benchmarks are deeply ingrained, and have male labelled as superior and the only way to succeed. They have female labelled as the opposite. This the legacy of history we have inherited. No more no less. It is what it is. (Note I’m referring to hidden subconscious programming here.) If you’re in any doubt about this, I point you to Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez, and indeed my book, Pull Back Your Power.
The official freedoms and laws of our society have moved on light-years in the last fifty years, but these are not the same as the subtle patterns, subconscious definitions and benchmarks that influence us every second. The more subtle rules prevail and have us all, to one extent or another, still chained into an obsolete gender system. We are fighting to get out, to find who we truly are, to express ourselves.
Yet we are still anchored there!
Now, let me be clear here, this same system undermines men as well as women because none of us are free in the old regime, we’re just restricted in different ways.
Finding a solution to a problem requires that we see the over-arching picture, and that is what we need to do here. Yes of course each person is an individual, but if we focus on the myriad of nuanced differences, we can’t see the pattern.
Here is the experience of life. Regardless of the ratio of male to female power we hold within us, if we are labelled ‘woman’, the status quo still goes against us in many places where it favours someone labelled ‘man’.
For example, take an assertive leader — a man would be most likely called ‘inspirational’ when a woman behaving the same way would be called ‘strident’ or ‘bossy’. These are the old knee-jerk patterns in action, and these look at one thing only — whether we are labelled man or woman. No other distinctions. No subtleties. No grey areas. If you’re in any doubt on this point, you’ll find a plethora of evidence on this in Mary Ann Sieghart’s book, The Authority Gap.
It is at this place — the very visceral interaction point between us and the world — where we meet this inflexible ‘male or female’ differentiation.
All the things we are trying to change, hinge on us being free of this one thing.
We can hold the idealised view of individual power, and think we are free, but then when we walk into that conference room and get talked over, and get treated as the secretary instead of the expert, or experience discrimination, it’s those ‘man or woman’ rules that are being applied. That experience is not changed by the fact that the woman in question might be running 80% male power, or 5% male power.
The Historical Suppression of Female
The second important point results directly from the first.
While we all have a mixture of both male and female qualities, the male aspects of power have not been shut down, suppressed and persecuted the way that the female aspects of power have. Women were forced to submit or suffer the consequences for millennia, both in secular life and religion. Men simply did not experience this.
This has left a deep-seated trauma wound in the group consciousness for women who push against the status quo — that some call the witch wound. This still affects women today, especially those who are pushing forwards and breaking barriers. The message ‘powerful women will be destroyed’ is responsible for many of the struggles women go through to succeed. It is this reason why many have had to adopt a very male energy in order to get ahead.
What we see — in general — out in the world of work are two distinct categories of women. The first is running on empty — often pushing through imposter syndrome, anxiety, and struggling with confidence far below her capabilities. The second has taken on a very male, aggressive, or forceful energy to get ahead — this type is often dismissive or indeed domineering to other women.
Yes, a generalisation, but I challenge you to think of your workplace without seeing how many of the women there fit into one category or the other.
This phenomenon is the direct result of women’s disempowered heritage, and having had no choice but to fit into a status quo full of male defaults. Women were not free to create the world to suit our natural energy. We had to fit in with what men had already created. We had to adapt, compensate, survive and self-censure to fit into the existing system.
Again, it is what it is. Nobody currently alive is responsible for this legacy. It’s not about finger-pointing. It’s about acknowledging the fact that the world was set up to censure women’s power and promote men’s. The world is not is not a gender neutral place, and as a result, nobody has been truly free to just be themselves and allow their true power to flow.
The Magic Ticket
Truth — we have very few examples of genuine female power to see. What we see are women who have learnt how to transmute their natural power into something that’s acceptable and ticks the boxes of the status quo world — not the same thing at all!
In my book I propose there is an archetype we need to aspire to — the Sorceress Archetype. This is how a woman would be if she had not a) battled against a patriarchal system, and b) not been put down, conditioned, or traumatised. It is who she would have been if she had had complete freedom from childhood to express her true self without censure, without conditioning and had been free to create the world aligned with that.
How many women have had that luxury? I can’t think of any.
After a lifetime of being in this box, pushing against its restraints, pulling against its limits, we need to see exactly what the box is, in order to get out. Only then can our true power awaken and flourish in all its splendor. Only then can we begin to know the full spectrum it contains. This cannot happen before it feels genuinely safe to do so.
Pretending that those deep-seated programmes, patterns, traumas and conditioning do not exist doesn’t make them go away. Instead, if we try to ignore them, and push ahead regardless, what we end up with is inner conflict, stress, burnout and imposter syndrome, and people not feeling truly safe to be themselves.
The magic ticket that gets us out of this place is one that recognises we are still locked in a subtle archaic set of limits, rules and definitions, which have absolutely nothing to do with the idealised world of the new power paradigm we wish we could have right now. It’s one that shows us just how much our lives are currently still running those old definitions, and how much of our unique energies have been squashed.
Painful though it is to see how much we still lack the freedom we yearn for, we must acknowledge this if we are to break free.
Then, and only then do we know which ticket to buy at the station to get us to the destination of freedom for all. That is the way to create a world where it makes no difference whether you are labelled woman or man, and what ratio of male and female power you hold.
So, for now, I continue to talk about male and female power, in order that we all access the keys we need to be free of those restrictions once and for all.
I look forward to the day when this is no longer necessary!
To start unlocking these hidden restrictions with The RE-POWER® techniques, download my free ebook: 5 Easy Steps to More Confidence.