The term “empowerment” rose to the face of American popular culture from social scientist Julian Rappaport. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His 1984 definition of the word includes the simple statement that says “Empowerment is viewed as a process: the mechanism by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery over their lives." According to Wikipedia, the “roots of empowerment theory extend further into history and are linked to Marxist sociological theory. These sociological ideas have continued to be developed and refined through Neo-Marxist Theory, which is also known as Critical Theory.”
Under this process one would assist marginalized people to do more, accomplish more, and become more! That sounds brilliant and kind and perfect. So now, women are generously and busily empowering one another on social media. In fact, instagram has over 2 million hashtags for the word “empowerment.”
This means YOU.
It’s nice. Until you realize whom these marginalized people are.
Ladies. Girls. Daughters. Grandmothers. Sisters.
You’re considered the marginalized person that needs such assistance.
You. Poor. Thing.
Think about this logically. You can only empower those whom you recognize as existing without power.
Not Me and Not mine
Sooo. [flicks hair] Thanks but no thanks. Don’t you even TRY that empowerment stuff with my Merry Band of Marilyns. It’s kind of an insult even though I know you mean well. No one means it in a derogatory way but the women I know? They’d slap you flat for suggesting they have no power. We’re not victims and we avoid pity parties. If a guy man-splains us, we woman-splain him right back. No big deal (and we’re better at it than most men.)
I’m a self-contained hustle unit. I power up with coffee and a Goal Post Attitude every single morning and while life may knock me off my metal from time to time, I get back up - under my own steam - and I keep going.
If there comes a day when “I can’t even.”
When I can’t rise to the occasion, I have an arsenal of outstanding women who will drag me, kicking and screaming, to my feet and make me march onward. I could throw my wine in their faces and they’d simply wipe it off and keep snatching me back to sanity. They don’t get offended or hurt because they know. They know adversity and they can spit in its face with dead-eye accuracy. I wouldn’t call these women “nice” in the “Butterfly and Sparkle” sense of the word but they are infinitely kind. They will help you feed the children, crack jokes over your wounds, and let you lean on them to stand tall until you heal. They will not label their aid “reaching out to empowering me.” They will call it friendship.
Further, I recognize from my own life struggles that the adversity I’ve overcome has taught me self-confidence, resilience, and self-validation. I would have never gained those things without it. Adversity usually doesn’t happen with kindness and generosity. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t have a lovely color scheme on its social media account. Adversity rakes your blistering soul over hot burning coals and steps on your hands as you try to drag yourself to safety.
One you’ve survived that, the rest is pretty easy. Just be nice and do the hustle.
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