Do you ever look up a word just to verify its meaning? I do. Maybe it’s my inner nerd showing . . I like my inner nerd though, so I’m good with that.
I had a conversation with a friend today and she told me about a woman using the term “empowerment”. It rubbed me the wrong way. “Empowerment” is such a catch phrase almost now. Did you know, if you actually look the word up, the definition is “the granting of the power, right, or authority to . . do something”. Just the definition pinpointed why I was not comfortable with a college professor’s use of the word.
There is such a glorified use of the word, almost to replace the words competent or confident. They all have different meanings. When women gained the right to vote many decades ago, they were empowered – they were granted the right and authority to do so. When women do physical labor, they are competent or gaining competency (maybe they’re at the gym, working on it). And when women learn to set boundaries in their lives with resolve and respect for themselves and others, they are being confident, or gaining confidence. These are all very different things. Yet they are all used under the same word as empowerment.
Here’s my beef with it. I have two young girls. So this movement of women’s empowerment makes me on guard. If you tell my daughter that she is empowered in a setting with bullies or someone who makes her uncomfortable; you are telling her she doesn’t have power. Look at the word. Someone has to grant it to you, for you to be empowered. If you are saying that someone has to give it to her, then you are saying she never had it to start with. That could not be farther from the truth. God said he empowered us. My daughters already have the power, the right, and the authority to stand up for themselves around bullies or someone who makes them uncomfortable. No one can take that away from them. And no one else can give that to them. My job as their mother is to help them find it within themselves. I’m not giving it to them. And as their mother, I don’t take kindly to anyone telling them that they didn’t have it to begin with.
And here’s my other beef. “Women’s Empowerment”. Hmmm . . No. I have two boys also. And the Bible says that they have also been empowered by God too. In a lot of women’s empowerment it is implied that men have some power that women are after? I don’t take kindly to the implication that my boys will grow up and have power that should belong to a woman. No. They are being raised to be respectful, and to know that they are empowered by God. Not by me. And not by having power that should belong to someone else. And I won’t take kindly to anyone telling them that they need to give something away because of gender.
So obviously this is a broad view of the issue. I do recognize that there are circumstances where empowerment is necessary. For instance, voting. That was legitimately a thing that is of great importance and that I greatly appreciate! But that’s not how the word empowerment is being used by a lot of people today. That’s not the way a college professor used the word to my friend’s daughter.
A good part of what the empowerment movement is out there striving to obtain is something that is already inside of you. If you want to find your strength, your boldness, your confidence, and all the other good things; look inside. These aren’t things that anyone has that they can “grant” to you. These are things that are yours, you are blessed to get the opportunity to find them in yourself and use them in your life.
Tonight I am thankful for the chance to poke holes in theories that are floating around out there. Think, research, pray, and find what is good and right in your life. You won’t find the answers in a picket line (although picket lines have their place – it isn’t for self-discovery). The good news is that you are already empowered! There will opposition. That is a part of life. But there are many things that you don’t have to be “granted” from this world; you just have to dig and find them yourself!