Updated: Oct 10, 2020
There's no doubt the internet is on fire since the first debate between Vice President Pence and Senator Harris, but depending on which way you're politically swinging, you might only see a single perspective (you can blame social media algorithms, artificial intelligence & predictive analytics for that!)....
Women from across the nation are chiming in on the infamous
"I'm still speaking..." comeback from Senator Harris that rocked the airwaves....
Some women claimed it was the most liberating response they've experienced in their lifetime, while other women claimed it was a step backwards for women empowerment efforts..... Where do you stand?
Well, first let's get down to the basics and breakdown the definition of what "Women Empowerment" really means....
Women = female (okay that was easy)
Empowerment em·pow·er·ment /əmˈpouərmənt/ (noun)
authority or power given to someone to do something.
the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.
Okay so you're probably thinking this is simple, it's pretty straight forward right?
And this is where it starts getting complicated...
After researching hundreds of websites, and thousands of pieces of content on the web, I realized that there's a disconnect when it comes to understanding and embracing women empowerment....we are not on the same page...actually we aren't even reading the same book...I don't even think the book is written in the same language! We need to talk!
So, what does Women Empowerment really mean, and does the definition translate to only your needs or the needs of all women?
Here's some answers I pulled straight from the web, and I got to warn you....there's quite a range of colorful answers, but these are real answers from real women from different industries, representing different parts of the world....
So let's explore some of the most common descriptions of Women Empowerment shall we?
The process of becoming a strong, confident, control - your - own - destiny and have power over your own life and ability to do what you want...
Based on the assumptions that women differ from men in their social positions and that those differences consist of asymmetric, unequal power relations between the genders, “women's empowerment” refers to the process of increasing women's access to control over the strategic life choices that affect them and access to ...
This mean we, as women, are waiting around for power to be given to us? The answer is an emphatic no! Now is the time to acknowledge the power we possess within us, use it and most importantly, build upon it. The most important empowerment is the way we empower ourselves.
So, to empower women, power must be given to them. Presumably by an entity that already has it. And that entity is the patriarchy. This also implies that women must be on the receiving end, waiting—politely—to be empowered. Very Victorian-era courtship, isn’t it? The notion of women’s empowerment entails three key elements: power, autonomy, and subjectivity. First, three alternative sources of power increase women’s ability to make strategic choices in their lives: “power with,” “power to,” and “power within.” “Power with” is the group- or collective-based...
Based on the assumptions that women differ from men in their social positions and that those differences consist of asymmetric, unequal power relations between the genders, “women’s empowerment” refers to the process of increasing women’s access to control over the strategic life choices that affect them and access to the opportunities that allow them fully to realize their capacities. Women’s empowerment as an economic, political, and sociocultural process challenges the system of sexual stratification that has resulted in women’s subordination and marginalization in order to improve women’s quality of life.
The term has drawn further criticism for implying that an external force bestows empowerment upon a woman — diminishing her own power and agency.
When a woman is in a condition where she is aware of her self-worth and values herself. With that comes the confidence and ability to make decisions for herself, her family and in other domain of her influence without being bothered about the boundaries that culture, society, and other norms have created for her.
Empowerment is enabling girls and women to develop their own solutions to the problems they face, and supporting them to transform their own lives, families, and communities.
Empowerment should mean that women gain the ability to challenge and combat their oppression. In practice, it has come to mean marginally improving their material circumstances.
Women empowerment is the provision of women with the means, skills, and opportunities to be independent, make their own choices and lead a life free of all sorts of violence and discrimination.
Women’s ability to act in spite of their constraints to make the changes that they seek and they desire.
When women are valuing themselves and their contributions, and men are valuing women and their contributions as well.
When I look at the word ‘empowerment,’ I see the word ‘power.’ And so when we speak of ‘women’s empowerment,’ to me it is about changing the systems, institutions, and mindsets that perpetuate patriarchal hierarchies of power and social order.
There is no empowerment without rights, so women’s empowerment needs to be anchored in human rights which provide a universal framework for monitoring. For women to be empowered, they need resources, respect, and voice. This requires redressing women’s socioeconomic disadvantage, addressing stereotyping, stigma, and violence, and strengthening women’s agency, voice, and participation.
Confused yet?? These definitions blend together, but individually they convey a very different message, especially when you consider who is actually providing the definition....
So, that explains why so many women were on different ends of the spectrum when it came down to the recent debate and the performance of Kamala! (okay, now we're connecting the dots!)
Do you think Senator Harris was unfairly examined based on her body language, tone, facial expressions and other physical attributes before finally being assessed for her answers...one would think we would start with her answers and then peel back into her posture and interaction techniques....but she wasn't given that fair chance, and she wasn't given this fair chance by women..... So, why did so many women disagree with Kamala's debate performance, yet those were the same women that believe wholeheartedly in women empowerment efforts....?
Then you had the other school of thought, women that felt liberated by Kamala for taking charge while standing firm ans being as cool as a cucumber by firing back in full debate mode - claiming she did well in her debate by responding with tact and grace....
These two perspectives are so different that I had to question whether we were watching the exact same debate, and whether we were talking about the same 3 subject matters:
1) Kamala Harris performance during her first debate with Vice President
2) Kamala's ability to manage under pressure
3) Kamala's leadership ability
So, I guess our conclusion of the definition of "Women Empowerment" is....it means different things to different people...and there are no wrong answers...and as long as we work together...it will all work out? Is that what we are going to collectively settle on?
Okay, so now that we've realized that there are multiple point of views from women on the topic and definition of women empowerment, we can clearly understand why there were huge gaps in the way we perceived the debate. I've listed some of the biggest gaps in opinions of the debate lingering on the web.... Take a moment to #reflect by asking yourself:
Do you agree with any of these opinions?
Can you understand the #perspectives shared (even if you don't personally agree with it)?
How has media headlines/media coverage shaped your opinion since the debate?
Lastly, what experiences shaped your point of view?
What is your personal definition for 'Women Empowerment'?
Ready to reflect? (Take a deep breathe...)
Questions: 1) Was Senator Harris...#Brave to speak up or a #Bully to speak out? 2) Was Senator Harris...#Confident in HER answers or #Irritable with HIS answers? 3) Was Senator Harris...#Respectful or #Demeaning in her direct responses? 4) Was Senator Harris...#Assertive or #Aggressive? 5) Did Senator Harris...model a #Positive or #Negative image for Women Empowerment & Women Leadership efforts?
What's your take?