By Cori Busby, Groundswell BUILD participant and founder of Conscious Kitchen
Women have seemingly come a long way in the fight for equal rights. In the workplace, an increasing number of women hold executive and C-level positions and, in many instances, the pay gap is slowly-but-surely narrowing. Women have surged from housewives to the boardroom in just a few decades, forever changing traditions and societal norms.
In the west people likely feel were pretty close to achieving gender equality. Kids are being taught, and surely believe, they can do and be anything they want when they grow up regardless of their sex.
But does all this really demonstrate that women are equal to men?
By definition gender equality is “the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender,” so it seems by the progress over the last half century that women should be a mere generation or so away from actualizing equality.
However, one important detail has been forgotten. Feminine energy and masculine energy have inherently polarizing qualities. Masculine traits include single-pointed focus, striving, competing, achieving goals, and conquering, while feminine characteristics are more intuitive, creative, social, nurturing, empathetic and free-flowing.
Yet somewhere along the path to liberation, women were classified as equal, even powerful, by their ability to perform like men. In business, in sports, in activities, in the bedroom - almost anywhere a woman seems to possess power or success is presented through the lens of the masculine.
Now that may be fine for women who are naturally grounded in in their masculine energy, but it’s exhausting and inauthentic for those who are not.
This has been a source of struggle for me my entire adult life. I very much embody feminine energy, but I’ve always felt societal pressure to achieve goals, have a plan, and hustle to make it in the world before, God forbid, it’s too late!
I’ve criticized myself for not having enough motivation, discipline or courage to excel as fast and as high as my peers, as I too defined success by masculine standards. I have so many female friends who are rock stars in business and seem to be able to manage a career, family, friends and fitness, while I long to find balance, connection and meaning in these things.
This realization has given me so much power back. I no longer feel inadequate. I’ve realized that I can be an equal and deserving person, while fully embracing and expressing my feminine nature and doing things my own way, at my own pace.
The more I tried to to fit in this imposed box, the more I felt my intuition shutting down and my rational (critical) brain taking over. I felt disconnected from my body and simply not good enough. Buh-bye super powers!
Recently—thankfully—I made the important distinction between gender—by most accounts perceived equal in western society—and the masculine / feminine—opposing (but complementary) energies. This realization has given me so much power back. I no longer feel inadequate. I’ve realized that I can be an equal and deserving person, while fully embracing and expressing my feminine nature and doing things my own way, at my own pace.
I now focus on developing my intuition and creativity in my areas of interest. I feel comfortable trusting the flow of the universe and instead of pushing forward through motivation I allow myself to be lured by inspiration—flow versus force—what a revelation!
Women have fought valiantly for liberation and equality in a traditionally “man’s world” and I am proud of what has been accomplished, but I question whether this battle has inadvertently led us to a harmful place, where the unique power of the feminine has been diminished to the point where future generations are at risk of not identifying with their intuition or the community they are surrounded by.
As rising social entrepreneurs, I think we are in the unique position to set the stage for conscious business practices that let everyone’s unique gifts and qualities shine.
The Dalai Lama has said that women will save the world. I believe this is true, but needs to be reframed to the feminine will save the world. Everyone has some level of both energies and we need to work together to harness the feminine in all of us. It will take courage and conscious leadership, but only through this rebalancing of energies can we achieve the inclusive, creative and compassionate solutions that are necessary to transform business and not only save the world, but create a better one.
As we continue to evolve as humans, we need to expand our definition of gender equality to include diversity over uniformity. It’s time to acknowledge the difference between feminine and masculine energies , then embrace and build on both.