I came across a Stevie Nicks quote the other day that really got me thinking about feminine power.
“When you grow up as a girl, the world tells you the things you are supposed to be: emotional, loving, beautiful, wanted. And then when you are those things, the world tells you they are inferior: illogical, weak, vain, empty.”— Stevie Nicks
Sometimes the most blunt, poignant and obvious statements ring in the most profound way.
I’ve written at length about Feminine Energy, how it isn’t about just being “girly,” and how it’s quite missing in the world at large.
It isn’t just the world telling us that a softer nature is weak, it is often ourselves. We are praised as little girls for being sweet, nice, having good handwriting and tidy desks, and being kind to others.
But so many of us go into professional cultures that want us to believe that in order to be successful, we have to lose a lot of what got us here: our attention to beauty, to neatness, to kindness.
Under perceived pressure to fit in, we tell ourselves that we are weak for being women. We internalize the patriarchy and let it run like a computer virus in the background.
I remember having a female supervisor early in my law career who rather enjoyed flipping the bird and making sarcastic jokes. I found the whole setting super intimidating, so I somewhat-consciously adopted her behaviors in an effort to fit in at the office. I have a bit of a sarcastic streak myself, but mostly, felt like I had to keep up by being more like the dudes.
I figured, it had worked for her, so I should do it too. But it was one of the things that led to my burnout. Over time, I realized that being my true self — sensitivity and all — was a position of strength.
The women who transcend the patriarchy and dodge burnout do so by being rebelliously feminine.
Back to Stevie Nicks’s quote, let’s think about this for a minute: Stevie has been undeniably successful — while, from all appearances, retaining the very feminine values she references in that poignant quote. She’s close to my dad’s age, and is continuing to rock it. And we know that the music business isn’t all too different from the law or any other machismo-driven industry.
You might be thinking — “but I’m not a rock star. I can’t get away with dancing around in a shawl and some crazy hats. I spend my days in suits/scrubs/a uniform/yoga pants/you-name-it.”
But here’s the deal. It’s gotta be deeper than the level of fashion or style (and I love fashion as much as anybody and I admittedly think too much about clothes). Under the outfit, there’s something deeper that I think Stevie is asking us to acknowledge and do.
Deep down, we must acknowledge if we have disliked being women, and learn to love it instead.
Many women, myself included, have had times and moments when being a woman just seemed like we got a raw deal from the Universe. Let’s see. There’s having your period, and PMS, and having different rights depending on what side of the Washington-Idaho border you happen to live on. But that’s all a matter of perspective. Idaho is a lot freer than somewhere where you might be a victim of genital mutilation, or murdered by your own family in the name of “honor.”
There’s also the mean girls we can’t trust. Dating back to the Salem Witch Trials, it was teenage girls who drove the shit show. Back in those days, their only power was to throw other females under the bus. A taste of power, any power, was too sweet to pass up.
And, many of us have struggled to reconcile the modeling we received from our own mothers. Maybe we judged them for not having careers. Maybe we were mad at them for having careers and not being around for us. Maybe we didn’t want to be anything like our mother and vowed that we’d do things differently.
Maybe our mother was our best friend and a rock of salvation but she’s sadly no longer here.
Whatever it is, yep, it hurts.
All of these troubled relationships with other women, and our awareness of living conditions for other women in our own country and around the world, affect us deeply. These sore spots, when unacknowledged, might fester into self-hatred. But there’s another, more self-honoring option.
That option is to go way deeper than chanting the mantra, “I am enough.” That option is to actually fully self-actualize as a woman, and then the judgments of the world, both external and internal, fade away into the background.
It’s all about self-actualizing as a WOMAN.
To me, that’s what is symbolized by Stevie Nicks’s unforgettable lyrics and iconic style — it’s a full, unapologetic embrace of the wildness, mystery and rebellion of being really comfortable in one’s skin as a woman. Never showing too much, but always unflinchingly honest. This is as a woman just for the beauty and power of it, not just for the male gaze or some petty competition between women. It’s knowing deep down that nothing you’re about is “weak, vain, or empty,” ever. It’s pure power, and if they can’t take it, they can piss off into the sunset.
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