A friend was recently sent a link to an event taking place next weekend, called The Keys to Feminine Power – Awakening the Three Power Bases of the New Co-Creative Feminine. (I know, right?) I am fascinated by this. I don’t know if I’m more annoyed by the muddled thinking, the jargon-filled expression of the thinking, or the anti-feminism, but I’m fairly sure all of them are annoying me quite a lot.
So what is this thing? It’s ‘a free global online seminar and gathering for awakening women’ and the premise is that women ‘are on the brink of an evolutionary shift with the power to alter the course of history’. So far, so meaningless. The only thing I’m awakening to is the sound of people uttering meaningless platitudes while trying to sell merchandise. But in an attempt (mostly doomed, I have to warn you) at objectivity, let’s see what the rest of the website has to say.
There is feminine and there is masculine power, apparently. Masculine power is ‘the power to create things that can be controlled’, and the feminine version is ‘the power to manifest that which is beyond our control’. Such as intimacy and creative expression.
Just for the sake of it, I’m going to take a moment to try to understand this. When men create things, those things can be controlled. OK. Here are the first five things I can think of that I’m fairly certain were created by men: Shakespeare’s plays, the telephone, aeroplanes, the song Happy Birthday To Me, the Mona Lisa. Mentally I am trying to apply the concept of ‘can be controlled’ to these five things, and I’m not getting anywhere: my brain is just bouncing off the words without being able to connect to anything. Nor do they seem to have anything much in common with each other. But perhaps I just thought of the wrong five things. Maybe my feminine ability to intuit the meaning of this concept has taken a well-deserved day off
Right then, let’s have a go at feminine power being able to manifest things which are beyond our control. I don’t think this is about inventions created by women: it’s about how woman create relationships, I think? And babies? There’s no actual mention of babies that I’ve noticed, but I can only assume it’s implied, since that often seem to the basis for claiming that women are more creative than men because we can make babies.
Which is an odd idea when you think about it. The problem lies in conflating two different meanings of the word ’create’. Having babies is an act of creation, but it is not a creative act as such. (Unless you view your pregnancy and labour as a work of extended performance art – an idea I wish I’d had earlier when I could have tried to make money out of it.) Similarly, successful relationships and intimacy with other people are a good thing, if that’s what you want to do, but is achieving them actually creative? I’d have said it was more of an acquired skill, or a craft like DIY, than like writing a sonnet.
At this point I think I should acknowledge the massive elephant in the corner of my blog post before it actually tramples me with its great big gendered feet. Intimacy, relationships, creative expression, creating things that can’t be controlled (and why is that such a great idea anyway?) – well, I hate to break it to the ladies of The Keys to Feminine Power, but actually, men can manage those things too. And lots of women can’t, or don’t, or don’t want to. And women can create things that can be controlled (again, why is that a bad thing?) and lots of men don’t. The entire concept of there being certain types of creative power accessible only to women is frankly weird. Where would it reside? Do trans people gain or lose it if they transition? Should women who don’t feel particularly creative in any of the above senses just give up on any hope of achieving true womanhood? Shall we have a conversation about binary gender, by the way?
And now, let’s talk about this sentence. “For all the amazing benefits that feminism has brought us, its fruits have not necessarily included personal or spiritual fulfulment’. The suggestion being that we’ve been ‘cultivating a masculine version of power’.
Now, there is the germ of an actual idea here, and one which feminists do discuss: how far woman have to buy into existing patriarchal power structures in order to succeed, how traditionally feminine qualities can become undervalued by feminists themselves as well as by society, and so on.
The trouble is, I can’t tell what exactly the Feminine Power event is proposing as the solution to this, except for the claim that ‘feminine power’ itself is the answer. And since I still don’t really know what feminine power consists of, that’s not a lot of help. Talk about campaigning for decent maternity pay (which I gather the US mostly lacks) and putting more women into government, and I’m all ears. Tell me that I have the power to change my life and my destiny (wait, aren’t those basically the same thing?) and the world, and you haven’t told me anything I don’t already know
But those things have nothing to do with my gender. Feminism may not have provided me with instant personal fulfilment (because that’s not its job) but it has, thankfully, allowed me to develop the ability to tell when someone is taking a lot of words to say nothing in particular. I’ll take that over feminine power any day.