I pray you’re all well. I loved International Women’s Day from the moment I heard of it. A day to honour women, break boundaries and preach that we can do what any man can do, and sometimes do it better? Yes please, or “inject itttt”, as the kids of today would say.
Today, I woke up feeling a bit uneasy about it. I let my body wake up naturally instead of an alarm because I felt that I needed more rest than usual and I went on my laptop to catch up on the news, to see articles “celebrating women”. I was bombarded with posters of Rosie the Riveter, a media icon from WW2 associated with women who worked in factories and shipyards when the men were off to fight.
Usually, the only issue I would have had with this image is that it is a very Eurocentric portrayal of WW2 and those who fought (let’s not forget that over one million Indians fought under the British), but it made me realise more than ever that the way we celebrate IWD is by celebrating masculinised notions of what it means to be powerful and women who adhere.
For women to get their rights, we had to fight for them. We had to step into this masculine energy to battle for our feminine expression, however, we now feel that we need to stay in this masculine energy to sustain our rights because we don’t feel safe to rest in our feminine energy.
For me, I can’t even imagine a time in which I wouldn’t be able to vote because I am a woman, but there was once a time in which women were told they can’t vote because their brains are too small to comprehend politics.
Women were only allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia in 2017 but in 2013 when women were campaigning to drive, Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan — one of Saudi Arabia’s most prestigious scholars — hit back and said women shouldn’t drive because they will end up hitting their ovaries as their pelvis pushes upwards. Then, when it was finally legalised, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided to lock up the women who were at the forefront of the driving campaign as a lesson to activists that whether policy changes or not has nothing to do with their activism and a warning to future campaigners.
This is why the fight for women’s rights is important. We shouldn’t be walked all over and we need days like IWD to acknowledge these accomplishments and barriers that must be pushed through. But this isn’t all that womanhood is and most certainly doesn’t reflect the waves of the majestic sea of femininity.
It also calls for performative feminism, such as London’s Met Police using today to urge women to join the police force to “be the change they want to see” without addressing systemic abuse, coverups and a culture that enabled the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of an on-duty cop. How shamelessly hypocritical.
There is nothing wrong with women being in their masculine energy — Alpha women are very admirable in the way they get things done, head first. In my earlier-mid 20s, I definitely was one. I felt accomplished and powerful, but I wasn’t happy. What made my dynamic especially toxic was that I didn’t think I had a choice, and this is what I fear many women believe at this point.
Alpha women think they have the “whole package” and don’t realise their distance from their feminine energy is stopping them from having fulfilling lives. It’s fine if they recognise this and have made a choice to find someone who will balance their energy, but most women don’t realise what they’re doing and can’t tweak because they feel way too unsafe to lean back and surrender due to unhealed trauma that they don’t know they have.
“We need to be alphas, we need to be powerhouses, we need to prove ourselves, we need to ignore period pains and fight on as if we’re not feeling sick, we need to show every man in the world that what they can do, we can do better and we need to take out our wallets and pay to prove to the man on the other side of the table that we can provide for ourselves.” Fam, no. Lol.
Do men wear makeup for us? Do they use period simulators once a month in solidarity? Do they stop providing to let you feed your ego? Well, some of them want us to be the main provider, but we’re staying far away from them.
When we stay in this fight zone and correlate our womanhood with fighting and breaking barriers, we don’t rest. This seeps into every fibre of our lives and we just keep fighting out of fear. When we’re scared, we’re easy to control.
Embodying masculine energy makes us feel drained, unbalanced and worthless. Our emotions become more intense and volatile because we’re so used to suppressing them to avoid looking “eratic” and we find ourselves being lonely when we’re alone because we don’t know who we are, let alone have the ability to enjoy our own company. If you can’t be alone and love yourself, how will you allow love to enter your life? This is the source of a lot of unhealthy, codependent relationships and unhealed cycles of toxicity.
The ‘rise’ of the Divine Feminine
More than ever, we’re seeing discussions online on the Divine Feminine, the ability to lean back and let the masculine lead, etc etc. I subscribe to a lot of it and have done so more as I released a lot of the radical feminist views that I used to carry as a badge of honour and a show of my femininity.
This was dangerous because I didn’t know any other way to express my femininity or distinguish myself from my male counterparts other than my politics. Femininity and feminism were unquestionably synonymous.
In some ways, yes because there are contradicting parallels that lead to the same destination. Feminism says women are just as strong as men, whereas feminine energy says the aura of a woman is so powerful that she can attract while being in a rested state without working the way a man does. Feminism says women and men are equal, whereas feminine energy says women and men complement each other using different channels to serve the Divine. Feminism says women need to be physically safe to move freely, feminine energy says women need to feel safe to express themselves freely.
Both are important, but problems arise when we champion one without question and ignore the other and dismiss it as “old school” and “internally misogynistic”.
When we try to marry both feminist principles and a divine feminine lifestyle without holding ourselves to account and having a sense of responsibility, we risk an air of entitlement. We feel entitled to receive, but we scorn at the thought of allowing a trusted man to lead. We feel entitled to express our feelings, but we don’t use our sensitivity to hold space for others with compassion and without judgement because of the “see a therapist/Google is free” culture. We feel entitled to be provided for, but feel like it is an attack on our rights when we’re asked to create a comfortable home for the provider to relax. We feel entitled to be cherished because it’s our love language but feel disempowered at the thought of respecting a man because it’s his love language.
These dynamics are relational and personal and they can play out differently based on situations and the characteristics of the couple themselves. I don’t want to elaborate too much on this, but these are the mindset paradoxes that we risk falling into if we aren’t careful as the two contrasting expressions of femininity are being discussed, with importance, at the same time.
My full-time alpha woman days are thankfully over and it came due to a huge burnout and forcing myself to rest during the lockdown period when my room wasn’t just a sleeping and changing station. I was forced to nurture my space because I had nowhere else to go and now I realise how vital it is for my mental health. It is no coincidence that my healing journey rose to unimaginable heights when I accepted and embraced my femininity.
Now, whenever someone tells me they like “strong independent women”, I feel sad and annoyed because it implies that women should just take care of themselves. I was sold a lie when I was younger and life experience kicked my ego down and taught me some beautiful new lessons that I, without shame, embody and live by. I don’t care if what I have to say is unpopular, I write to express myself as I learn and grow and document the way I change my mind, not to be liked.
What’s wrong with wanting to be taken care of? Especially if you know you are more than capable of rolling your sleeves up when times get rough.
We deserve rights and recognition that go beyond our ability to adhere to masculine notions of power and productivity. Above all, we reserve the right to find our own balance by living our journey in the most authentic way possible. If this isn’t part of IWD celebrations, then we’re not really celebrating women, we’re celebrating the most profitable notion of womanhood.
Love and light,