Powerful and independent are the adjectives de jour these days. They precede the noun woman as though this were some new phenomenon – some new government given right of millennial women. Au contraire!
Women did not become powerful because a bunch of men in state legislatures ratified the 19th amendment to the Constitution in 1920. Rather the opposite is true.
The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution got passed because powerful women fought for it from Revolutionary War America through the Civil War and the First World War. The men who voted to ratify the amendment were their husbands.
They knew they had to go home after the vote!
Great Men Powered by Women
Powerful women have been steering men throughout history from the Old Testament until today.
- Without Sarah would Abraham have been just a desert nomad instead of the father of three great religious traditions?
- Could Jesus’ existence have altered the course of human history without both Mary and Mary Magdalena?
- Could Charles VII have ended the 100 Years War between France and England without Joan of Arc?
- Who would have discovered America if Columbus had not persuaded Queen Isabella to finance his expedition?
- Who would have saved the British Empire if Queen Victoria had not been plucked from obscurity when all her male cousins descended into madness?
Historically Men Dominated
Historically, the apparent dominance over women by men stems from the duality of our biology.
Women give birth. Men forage and fight.
Women frequently died or were disabled in child birth – ending their value to the family unit. High mortality rates among women made it possible for men to gain control over the family unit and, consequently, the role of women in it.
Without Women, There’d be No Men
Without women to bear children there’d be no human race. That is power, ladies, in its rawest form.
Men may be physically larger. Women are tougher. Can you imagine a man going through child birth?
Fundamentally Men are Afraid of Women
The myth of the invincible Amazon women warriors – tall, beautiful, courageous, dangerous is ultimately a statement of fear.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are the most extreme physical manifestations of fear – intended to intimidate.
Whatever real reluctance remains to the full participation of women in 21st century America is motivated by fear more than any sense of superiority.
Women Must Use Their Power Judiciously
The 21st century can be the century of the Great American Woman if millennial women focus more on empowerment than proclaiming their power from all-too-many hotel ballroom forums. Empowerment comes from gaining skills that are in demand, exercising good judgment, developing self-confidence and matching confidence with grace.
Being powerful is not about wielding power. It’s about offering leadership.
I can’t improve on the advice offered by US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper – inventor of the Univac computer
- “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission” – that’s the exercise of good judgment and
- “You manage things, you lead people” – that’s the grace that forges leaders.
Our numbers are too great to ignore we don’t have to roar to be heard and respected.
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin
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