Is it time to rethink feminism?

Do men have to lose power to make room for women?

This morning I reflected on Justin Trudeau’s talk to the Women in the World convention held earlier this week in Toronto. I applaud his efforts towards fairness! It feels invigorating to have a proud feminist fight for the rights of women! But there is a watch out. I got stuck on the reference to the notion that men will have to lose power to make room for women. I sense that is an interesting belief. And perhaps that is the whole issue why despite all our efforts, women still struggle to have their voices heard in CEO suites and presidential offices globally. If we make this a fight for power, women will not win! When we make this a fight for feminism – for equality – the tension will continue. If you, like Hillary Clinton, wants to know ‘What happened?’ in reference to the 2016 Presidential Election, read on.

The spoken truth vs. the unwritten cultural truth:

There are signs that the status quo is not working. We have told women that they can be president if they work hard, yet our deeply embedded belief for both men and women, is that we need a strong male leader when we are under pressure. We have told women that they can be more than mothers, caregivers and homemakers, yet women have been conditioned through the generations to be nurturers.

So do women feel obligated to be both breadwinner and caregiver while everyone still holds a core energetic belief that dictates roles? We are playing by two sets of rules, a spoken truth and an unwritten cultural truth. And to complicate matters, given our newfound diversity, our cultural truth contains many different truths. By amplifying the spoken truth, it increases pressure on our beliefs and we react with a great deal of energy. Both men and women are sensing a disconnect about their roles in society and the speed of change increases the level of discomfort and disconnect.

Creating space for success not by giving up but letting go:

I was raised by strong parents in a traditional patriarchal culture of a Dutch immigrant farming family. My parents held different roles in the family but they complemented each other in a manner that allowed them to build on their strengths and very effectively work together. They were a team and there was no doubt they were in it together. They passed along an unwritten rule book about how to work together. It may not have been the ‘best’ but it was what my parents knew and believed to be right.

Fast forward and I was now operating as an adult with this programming in an entirely different space. The rules were different and as the pressure mounted, I became more entrenched in these beliefs. To succeed under pressure involved doing more of what I believed to be right! I was not giving up! The beauty came when I was introduced to a new coaching model called Logosynthesis. By identifying and shifting the energy in my beliefs,  I was able to neutralize my automatic, reactive patterns of behaviour. Not only did I experience a greater sense of calm and ease but it created a space for others to feel comfortable. I still hold my beliefs but as I let go of some of the energy, I am in a better position to listen and to be heard.

Equality or harmony?

So do men have to lose power to make room for women? Feminism is defined as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. It requires one to give up to balance the other. I believe in win-win solutions. I recall listening to Irene Rosenfeld speak to our women’s community group while I worked for Kraft Foods. The hot topic at the time was work-life balance. Her comment was that life may never be in balance so perhaps we should strive for work-life harmony.

Harmony means congruence, agreement and tranquility, on all sides. Both men and women need to feel safe with a fair chance to succeed.  Both men and women have a responsibility to let go of the energy they hold in the unwritten cultural truths. I believe if we can shift our language and let go of the energy bound in the need for equality to one of harmony, we can create space to empower women and men in their work and life.

Give it a try to shift your energy relating to feminism.

Check out these resources to get you started. You can also watch the guided video below to experience what can shift. Firstly, grab a glass of water and find a quiet, uninterrupted place. Allow at least 30 minutes so that you are not rushed. And then, simply follow my guidance on the video. Energy shifts can feel subtle or intense, so take some time to notice what shifts over the next few days and weeks. Enjoy!