What is a Powerful Woman? ~ Caitlin Heather Vincek

Via elephant journal
on Oct 11, 2012
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A truly powerful woman does not have to fight her way to the top. A truly powerful woman is not even concerned about the top.

Fortune Magazine’s latest issue boasts the cover story: “The 50 Most Powerful Women.”

The woman on the front page stands in a tight, yet not shapely, black dress, with a clenched fist glued to her hip. Her smile (if you can call it that) is pencil-thin, neither showing teeth, nor curving upward to avoid creasing her perfectly emotionless face. Finally, the shot was craftily taken at such an angle so as to drastically diminish any semblance of feminine curves.

The photo should have been enough of a warning as to what to expect from the article, but I couldn’t help myself. Even for someone who has made it a lifestyle choice never to read publications like Fortune Magazine, an article claiming to be about powerful women was not something I could pass up.

My shock upon seeing the list of The 50 Most Powerful Women was greater than I could have imagined. A slew of CEOs, Presidents and Chairmen from the following corporations and companies: IBM, Pepsico, Hewlett Packard, Kraft Foods, Fidelity Investments, Proctor and Gamble, Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart, Campbell Soup, McDonald’s and North American Pharmaceuticals, to name a few.

My first thought:

If the most powerful women in our country are heading up these companies, we are beyond f*cked.

At the risk of sounding accusatory, these are the companies that are killing people and killing the planet. This is the direct opposite of what women’s bodies are quite literally created to do.

Last I checked, there are no organs of mass destruction between my legs.

My second thought: what is their criteria for a “powerful woman”? A woman who has found a way to play with the men at a game that was invented by and for men? A woman who has sacrificed all that is natural to her as a woman—and stuffed it inside that horrendous black dress—in a desperate effort to resemble a man in as many ways as possible, without actually cross-dressing?

The average age of these so called “powerful women” is 50-something. Is that really how long it takes for a woman fighting her way through the hierarchy of suited penises to get to the top? No thank you.

A truly powerful woman does not have to fight her way to the top. A truly powerful woman is not even concerned about the top. She is strong and unwavering in body, mind and spirit. She radiates confidence—neither from a tightly clenched fist nor a restrictive black dress, but instead from her soft belly and womb. She is in touch with her capacity to create, nourish and sustain life all within her own body. She smiles at the world with the knowledge that she is the reason any of us are alive, (even those men in the suits!).

She is a healer, a mother and a survivor.

She listens to the innate wisdom of her body; that is how she knows what is most nourishing for her own health, the health of her children and all those around her (and she knows it is not Pepsi, Campbell Soup or McDonald’s).

She honors her ancestors and heals the Earth with her awareness of what is necessary for the sustainability of life on this planet.

She is wise and she is beautiful. She does not hide her femininity, but rather embraces her curvy hips, her gentle belly and her round breasts. She knows in every cell of her body she is a miracle, and none other than her kind has ever birthed a living being from their pelvis.

She is the mother of eight children; the priestess who remembers the ancient ways; the maker of medicine; the dancer; the artist; the grandmother by the fire. She is the one who stopped the rapist in his tracks by asking him his mother’s name. She is the one who loves fully even though they removed her clitoris. She is the one crossing the desert with a baby suckling at her breast. She is the one they tried to kill but couldn’t. She is the one with the unbreakable spirit.

She may not have millions of dollars in her bank account, but she has millions of eggs in her ovaries, each with the potential to grow into a human life. She may never see the inside of a limousine, but she herself is a life-bearing vessel.

Please take a moment to consider the powerful women in your life. Thank them for embracing their true power as women, and for not giving it up in an attempt to be more like a man.


After dedicating her academic career to the study of linguistics, Caitlin Heather Vincek has taken a hiatus from spoken languages to explore the fascinating language of the body. She is now a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist and a student of women’s ceremonial arts and spirituality in Boulder, Colorado.  For more about Caitlin’s work, visit www.radiantinside.com.



Editor: Jennifer Spesia

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19 Responses to “What is a Powerful Woman? ~ Caitlin Heather Vincek”

  1. Joe Sparks says:

    The liberation of women and of men go hand in hand. Because men have been used as the oppressor group toward women ( through the systematic installation of sexist patterns, beginning very early in boy's lives) they need to deal specifically with the damage done to women by sexism. While it is not men's fault that they have been set up by our capitalistic, classist society to be the oppressor group over women, men cannot afford any tolerance toward continuing to play that role. The slightest oppressive act is completely unworthy of men's inherent excellence. Explicit renunciation of that role and the correction of it by eliminating any sexism anywhere in society falls logically to men. Not only can men throw off the oppressor role, they can also work to eliminate sexism from society and assist women to eliminate the women's internalized sexism.

  2. Stefanie says:

    I totally agree with this article. Each of us in this world should become conscious and be at the same level no matter what we or what we have in orther to appreciate one another.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I want to love this article, I really do.

    You are right that women should not try to be men to get ahead in this world. And I would agree that we should not measure our worthiness by how much money we make. But it is wrong to suggest that female power comes from the ability to make babies. Many women don't want to make babies, others cannot. How is this article's implication that women are only powerful if they create new life any different than ultra-conservative religions who want women home making babies? I understand what you were trying to accomplish, but in rejecting one sexist role for women you inadvertently pushed women into another.

  4. Korumaze says:

    I agree with you, Jennifer – women are creative and powerful in many ways other then making babies. You have disregarded the place of women who choose not to procreate physically, and in doing so you have strengthened one of society's strongest ways to control women, and make them feel insignificant if they do not or cannot have children. It is one of my lifetime lessons – to come to realise that, though I have not children, I am still a powerful and feminine woman.

  5. Korumaze says:

    Ooops – when I say you have disregarded, etc… I mean Caitlin, not Jennifer!

  6. Alex says:

    I understand where this article is going and I agree that the spirit of an individual says more for someone rather than their title or their bank account. I also agree that power can and should be achieved by being true to the women we are rather than adjusting our lifestyles to fit in a man's world. But to attribute power to giving birth and being fertile really puts me off. There are so many fantastic characteristics that women bring to their careers, to their families and to this world. Giving birth is a beautiful thing. As is a mother. But being a mother does not say anything more to me about that woman's character and spirit than say a woman who is a CEO at a major corporation.

  7. Rederc says:

    Wow, my bias alarm is going off full blast after reading this article. Where to start?
    I would argue that the women on the list are indeed powerful women in the positive sense of the word. They have chosen their own paths and preservered to reach their chosen goals. It seems obvious. These are not paths you would choose, but does that make their choices any less "women"? I think not.
    IBM and HP produce computer products used by mullions of people across the world-maybe even by the article's author in posting the blog?
    The comment about sacrificing all that is natural to her as a woman, is a mind blowing presumptious generalization. Presuming that women's innate skills are not useful in business? Generalizing that all successful businesswomen are not nurturing and creative? That they are childless? Just not sure what facts back that statement.
    As for the group being mostly in their 50's, its not a matter of how long it takes to fight one's way through an army of suited penises (ouch, bitterness). The reality is that in many professional fields it simply takes that long to accumulate the breadth of skills and experiences that allows one (male or female) to perform well at that level of responsibility.
    Im not suggesting that the list was inclusive, but allow that these women, due to their high visibility were easy to identify. If a similar list were made of men it wouldnlikely draw from the same occupations for the same reason: visibility.
    Why not acknowledge that as humans were are complex, have a vast array of skills and attributes, and celebrate the positive role models provided by both men and women.
    For the record I am a women, 51, successful in business, a mother, a daughter, friend, practicing yogi, and struggling buddhist, and rarely motivated to post a comment.

  8. Mary says:

    She's definitely not suggesting that female power comes from the ability to get pregnat. Read again dear.

  9. Thays says:

    It's a very poetic article, that's why I think some things shouldn't be interpreted as conservative or religious.

  10. Allen F Mackenzie says:

    Wow, what a load of naive leftist nonsense , 'corporations killing people'' , give me a break!
    The author needs to walk a tenth of a mile in these truly successful women's shoes and avoid the trap of envy and negativity that the author has obviously fallen into. At minimum she should celebrate the paths of other women.
    Each soul is manifesting its life as it wishes.


  11. CMS says:

    I agree with both Jennifer & Korumaze. MANY people with female bodies *do not want to* or *cannot* use them for pregnancy and childbirth. It's strange that this article kind of reduces people with female bodies down to what they do with their reproductive organs.

  12. Chas says:

    I don't think that the writer is reducing womens' power to bring a mother. She's saying that from a very basic, genetic standpoint women are built physiologically and chemically to create and nurture life… and whatever you think about HP and McDonald's…they aren't in the creating or nurturing biz. I'm also tired of women's power being reduced to "breaking the glass ceiling" and getting to make as much money as men, etc etc. The game we're all playing – both genders – is unbalanced and drives spirit and health and community away. We need to stop thinking that it's "powerful" to call the shots in an engine that gobbles up everything in front of it – and that's no leftist nonsense! – and start thinking that it's powerful to decide for yourself and do something real that's about giving to the world rather than taking. That's what I think this article says and I support it!!

  13. Caitlin – What a gutsy thing to stand up and say this. There is no “solution” to the gender dynamic, and some of the comments seem to be arguing the wrong points – there is no set role for either men or women, but both have some kind of unique contribution that they bring to the whole. That we haven’t figured this out seems fine to me. I know that your work at Path of the Ceremonial Arts at StarHouse has primed you for your unique contribution as a woman, and I applaud that. A well-written little essay.

  14. CMS says:

    "from a very basic, genetic standpoint women are built physiologically and chemically to create and nurture life."

    Some people with female bodies *AREN'T* built to create and nurture life. That's the point. "Women" are not just about getting pregnant and giving birth.

  15. CMS says:

    agreed, Alex, thank you! 🙂 I especially loved this part: "being a mother does not say anything more to me about that woman's character and spirit than say a woman who is a CEO at a major corporation."

    Many, many women choose to not use their bodies for reproduction. And many women simply biologically cannot use their bodies for reproduction. What she does with her womb is not a prerequisite for being a powerful woman!

  16. […] Secondly, I have no idea why they call it a “man cold”—I’m the single biggest baby in the world when I don’t feel good, and I’m a lady all over the place. […]

  17. Heather Callin says:

    Bravo! A voice of balance AND reason. 🙂 Well said.

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