Ask and you shall recieve: The female empowerment movement by blogger Emily

Ask and you shall recieve: The female empowerment movement by blogger Emily

Some people hang onto the idea that working women are frightened to ask for and reach for what they professionally want, whether that be a higher salary or a leadership position. This cliché is starting to lose its grasp. For instance, a study conducted by The Cass Business School in London, the University of Warwick in the U.K., and the University of Wisconsin did not support the “women-ask-less-than-men” myth.

This isn’t to say that there are absolutely no cases of women avoiding confrontation in the workplace. In fact, until I had become more comfortable with my job, I embodied the stereotype.

It’s almost been a year since I graduated college and, in that year, I learned lessons that have helped me break through my workplace insecurities. I’m not a guru. I’m not a wise Dumbledore-like-figure. I’m a working woman and here are those lessons:

Speak up

 If there is anything that you are uncomfortable with, you have the right to let your supervisor know. I spent six months without a second computer monitor (my job requires two), but it wasn’t until I worked up the courage to ask for one that I immediately received it. A simple problem with a simple solution. Even if you’re the lowest on the totem pole, never forget that you have a voice worth hearing.

Don’t say sorry (for what you can’t control)

I’m addicted to the word “sorry.” If someone were to ram into me with a truck, I’d still say sorry for standing on that particular sidewalk. In the workplace, you have to learn to nip that habit in the bud. My boss called me out on the habit when I said sorry for an IT issue. Fun fact: I don’t work in IT. It was a wakeup call because I learned to take responsibility for my own actions, not for the actions of people working across the country.

Work hard and go beyond

 If you want to excel at your job and prove your worth, you’ve got to work hard. That seems like a given for anyone. But, if you want to earn a raise or a promotion, you should do more than the basic duties of your position. Show that you’re taking on more responsibilities. Show that you’re adding or creating something for your organization that hasn’t been utilized before. Show that the work you’ve done has improved the quality of your organization. The more evidence you use to back up the claim that you deserve a raise or a promotion, the more likely you’ll achieve that goal.

As more young women grow up with the notion that they can be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do, the playing field can even out if we confidently traverse through the working world. If we keep reaching, keep working, keep asking, and keep confronting, then it’s only a matter of time.

Wolverine as a Symbol of Female Empowerment by blogger Jhem

Wolverine as a Symbol of Female Empowerment by blogger Jhem

45e70b792dd1f1c1db7fa4e800f0bb74Whenever I watch a movie from the X-Men franchise, there’s always a part of me that’s already disappointed, even before I watch the film. I don’t usually judge a movie before I’ve seen it, but whenever it comes to a film that has a cast of strong female characters who are also superhuman mutants, my heart always has the faint hope the scriptwriters have added a certain someone.

Laura Kinney is not very well-known in popular culture compared to her male counterpart, Logan, or, as he is more commonly called, Wolverine. Whereas there have been seven films (seven!) in which Hugh Jackman has reprised his role as the three metal-clawed Wolverine, there has never been a live-action representation of Laura, his female counterpart from the comic books. Hence my disappointment.

To us, heroes are people who are empowered, strong, brave, and unfailingly good. They are loving, kind, and compassionate. Laura is many of these things, but she is not all of them. She is strong, she is brave, but she is also jaded and broken. She’s flawed and imperfect, and unapologetically so…And it’s these fractured pieces of herself that make her so empowering as not only a character, but a young woman.

 
4313964-x-23+avatarThough it is ideal to aspire to be as good and heroic as Wonder Woman or Captain America, it’s not in our nature to be perfect. We cannot always be righteous, superpowered or not. There are times in which we will act the villain and break down with small hope of rising again. Like Laura, we are not simple; we are complex and complicated. In the comics, Laura’s history is rife with pain and manipulation, and she fights not only evil forces in reality, but demons in her own head. She questions her self-worth and struggles with self-love, questioning whether or not she has a “soul” on several occasions. She struggles with mental illness, confronting PTSD and self-harm.

It’s common to see male characters overcome such internal obstacles, but it’s not as common to see in female characters. Women also face these struggles and are just as capable of defeating them. Laura embodies this resiliency and strength. She does not let her past mistakes or past ordeals define her – she moves forward, scarred, bruised, but unbroken. She makes her own decisions, fights on the side of good, and continues to have hope when there is little reason to have any. She falls, as we all do…And gets back up, as we all can. She’s not a perfect hero, but then, none of us are.

Laura, to me, represents what it is to be an empowered young woman. It means being resilient, despite all that is against you. It means being unapologetic for all that you are and all the experiences that have defined you. It means not being “just a girl,” when compared a male counterpart, but being a girl who defies the status quo and all odds.

Strength from Growth

Strength from Growth

Just Who is the Empowered Woman?

Female empowerment means a lot to the feminist movement as a whole. But, just as there are so many subsets of the feminism itself, there are just as many (if not more) views on what defines the truly empowered woman.

Some believe it to be the golden example of feminist values. This would be the born leader who never kowtowed to what society deemed “women’s work”. That big, bold middle finger to all things patriarchal.

Then there are others – myself included – who see the truly empowered woman as someone with the grace to admit her humanity. The truly empowered woman should be inspiration to all, accept her missteps and make the past be lessons for the future.

A ReaAli-0651l-Life Role Model

The woman in my life that I consider to be an empowered woman is my dearest friend. She is the one I’ve turned to when things were tough, giving the best advice on relationships or parent issues or any other problem I might have. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

But I’ve always tried to be a good friend back to her and to hear her struggles. As a result, I witnessed the amazing woman she has grown into over the years. That is where I am most proud of her. I have watched over the years as she moved from struggling college student to budding entrepreneur. I watched her become more confident in her body and in herself, which further inspires me.

In addition to her growth in self-confidence, I find myself admiring that she continues to learn from the past. She admits her screw-ups and doesn’t paint her past as perfect. She also takes the time to boost women up and to advocate for social justice.

Empowering Others to Succeed

We aren’t these ideal feminists – nor have we ever claimed to be. But it seems that, with Ali by my side, I have the drive to keep growing as a person. She inspires me to claim my past and use it to bring about change for the future.

Someone I see as an empowered woman wants to spark those same successes in other women. This is a woman who sees other women as her equals, not competition to cut down. And that is Ali 100% – she has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. And I am hers – I want to see her fulfill her dreams and I love that I get to be there as she works for them.

Female empowerment doesn’t always mean running around in red lipstick and screaming “girl power”. Ali has shown me that loving yourself plays a major part of it. Female empowerment means finding what makes you happy and Ali showed me that she gets just as much from watching loved ones succeed as she does with her own successes.