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Despite what you may hear in the media, feminism does not mean creating opportunities at the expense of men. In fact, it is about creating equality for all humans, regardless of gender or gender identity.  

If you want to refer to a voice in popular culture on equality, I suggest following the United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson. She is an outspoken advocate for the rights of all people, regardless of their identity. She states that the word feminism is “really difficult because it seems to inherently address a preferential treatment of the feminine over the masculine because it has feminine in the word, and I think that’s a real oversight and misunderstanding. This isn’t just girls are better than boys, boys are better than girls. This is just everyone deserves a fair chance.”

The predominant conversation around gender differences lately tends to focus on wage parity and gender gaps in the workplace (real or perceived). What is missing from these conversations is the acknowledgement that everyone, regardless of gender, has both female and male “energy”.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s throw aside tangents like women vs. men or Mars vs. Venus or effeminate vs. masculine. What I am talking about here when I say male and female energy are fundamental traits inherent to every human. The only real difference is the extent and manner these traits are expressed.

This doesn’t mean that a person needs to start presenting themselves a certain way. It means being in touch with being vulnerable and being ok with what feels right for you – embracing your energy and casting aside what you feel like your traditional gender assigned role is supposed to be.

I know you’re thinking “right, so now you want me to get in touch with something I can’t see and somehow embrace it…you are crazy Janice.” Fair enough. Imagine the concept as a continuum where extremes in either female or male characteristics is unbalanced and unhealthy.

There will always be extremes and people who are generally shitty, regardless of their gender. That aside–when you look at the traits of the extremes, it is easy to see why some of the socially reinforced stereotypes around gender are counter to a balanced society. Which brings me to the question and the title of the article: are you a MILF (Man In Lack of Female) or a WILM (Woman In Lack of Male)?

Don’t get me wrong, I know we are long past the days of the traditional nuclear family from our grandparents’ generation, but we have a long way to go in casting aside those stubbornly reinforced norms to creating a culture that fully embraces gender equality and empowering women–even to having a common understanding as to what that means.

The Women’s Empowerment Principles outlined by the United Nations strive to empower “women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.”

To achieve this, it is important that men support other men and women support other women in finding that balance. The balance will look different based on the individual, but in general, you would want to strive to a place of comfort in your own skin, and feel content, peaceful and engaged–and get there without defining where you fit based on traditionally defined gender roles. Get there by being comfortable listening to your true self.

Getting there will mean men and women will also need to get real about why they don’t support each other. Often it comes down to human nature and our tendency to compare ourselves to others, which stems from a lack of self awareness, self-esteem and confidence.

A lack of confidence means vulnerability, which equals risk…and risk can be a tough pill to swallow. Which is why the key to moving forward lies in acknowledging our collective successes and failures and embracing our vulnerability in order to learn and move forward–together.

 

 

I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in Beating Burnout, Lowering Stress and Powering Up Your Happy! Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!

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