The feminist movement has turned women into men.
I just came back from a very powerful talk by Debora Spar, the President of Barnard College in New York City, who was speaking about her new book “Wonder Women: Sex , Power and the Quest for Perfection.”
Since I am working through releasing myself from the Wonder Women Syndrome, I have not yet read her book. Her personal story however resonated very strongly with me. It also illuminated why there is so much struggle in our relationships and sex lives.
The feminist movement has turned women into men—and here’s how.
What Debora so masterfully conveyed was the historical perspective of how the Wonder Woman syndrome came about. In a nutshell, by the time girls born in the 60s and 70s become young women, we could check the following off the list:
>> Reproductive rights secured (although post-Hobby Lobby it’s unclear whose going to pay for it)
>> Civil rights battle completed (though the war may never be won)
>> Vietnam War behind us
>> Women acceptances to colleges and graduate school skyrocketing
>> Women in the workplace in large numbers
And we did this without having to sign a petition, march on Washington, or burn our bras.
We were told by our mothers, and it was reinforced in 1970’s popular media such as “Charlie’s Angels”, and Ms. Magazine, that we were just as capable as men and could be whatever we aspired to be.
The legacy of the feminist movement is that women could have it all—a professional career, a husband, children, two cats and a dog—and keep our shit together.
But as I listened to Debora speak, I had another realization.
What the feminist movement, perhaps unwittingly did, was to turn women into men.
In my own life, I was pressured to either go to law school or medical school. I chose the one that sucked the blood out of me. I bought into the masculine notion that success and happiness was defined by how much money I made, how big my house was, and how high I could climb in the organizational ladder. I made it all the way up to CEO, all while raising two young children and keeping the family together.
Along the way I was also taught that emotions are bad and displaying them is a weakness. I learned that screwing other people, in order to get ahead in the world, was not only accepted, it was expected.
Business came before pleasure, including spending time with my children.
Most significantly, I wore the pants in the family.
The buck stopped with me.
And therein lies the reason why our sex lives are so screwed up.
As I rose in the business world and became more powerful and more successful, I completely lost touch with my feminine sexual energy. The loving, nurturing, “mother energy” was alive and well. But the sexy Goddess who can surrender into passion and orgasm? Non-existent.
In the business world, I was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, that force was also alive and well in the bedroom.
Here’s the frustrating thing: I didn’t want to be the male presence in the room, the one who always instigated sex and called all the shots in my marriage.
I simply never learned how to be otherwise.
I wish this was just the plight of the too few in numbers powerful businesswomen. But in fact, many relationships suffer because women are simply holding too much masculine energy and have forgotten, or perhaps never even learned, how to tap into their feminine side.
The results of this have been far reaching. I truly believe that one of the reasons behind the 50% divorce rate in my generation is due to the shift of power dynamics in male/female relationships. Men are showing up at my doorstep completely emasculated and disempowered. Women are showing up with no libido and frustrated that their sex life is non-existent.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this problem.
Awareness is a huge step in the right direction. Embodiment through movement and dance can be a powerful opening and also very challenging. At first I was surprised at how many of my female clients struggled with any type of sexy dance exercise, until I remembered how long it took me to feel comfortable out on the dance floor.
Connecting with ourselves sexually through a mindful masturbation practice, Tantra or women’s sexuality class can help women work through some of the shame issues that haunt us.
Unlike women who grew up in the era of Woodstock, free sex and love was not part of our mantra.
Ultimately, the best thing that we can do is not to perpetuate this in future generations. Instead we need to help our daughters celebrate their feminine side, encourage our sons to be comfortable and proud of being a man, and rid ourselves, once and for all, of the “Wonder Women” syndrome.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Courtney Rhodes via Flickr