Freud got it wrong! Well, he was right about little girls having envy towards little boys. But it wasn’t their penises that we wanted. It was their personal power.
This has been my theory for as long as I can remember because I can remember thinking this when I was about four years old.
In fact, as soon as I learnt about Freud’s phallic stage in psycho-sexual development at University I realised he had focused on the penis and sexual power, after all he was a man, he had mother issues and men do seem very proud of their appendage. But they are the only ones who want that funny little dangly thing between their legs.
Women don’t suffer from penis envy! What women truly seek is the same level of personal power they see their male counterparts having.
The Ability to Act
The dictionary defines power as: ‘the ability to act.’
Men have an automatic authority over their own lives and they know it. The first book I ever began to write and will eventually finish and publish one day was to interview men about being men.
This is what I learnt from their words: ‘To be a successful man we are expected to make decisions, be in charge, control our lives (and others), be wise, knowledgeable and achieve success in our work, in our marriages, for our family and as a father.’
At the age of four I knew I wanted the same freedom to choose my destiny.
- To be in charge of my own life.
- To have the freedom to grow into all I could be.
- To have the freedom to be fully responsible for myself.
In my work, I meet lots of 6 year old girls who want the same thing. When selecting flower essences for a mix Calla Lily is used to help them step out of the cultural, religious and societal limitations on their gender they are already aware of.
Fathers Influence Girls Self-perception
I grew up under the guidance of a beautiful man who indoctrinated me with beliefs I wanted to have. My Dad reiterated over and over that I didn’t need a man to make me whole or to do anything for me because, unlike what I would be told and have role modelled all around me, my gender didn’t make me incapable of doing anything I damn well wanted to do.
As a grown woman this means, yes, a man is welcome to share my life as an equal. Yes, a man is welcome to enhance my life as I enhance his. Yes, a man is welcome to love and support me to be my best just as I will love and support him to be his best.
But I have never needed a man. I have never stayed in a relationship because I felt incomplete on my own.
- If I couldn’t love myself then no man was going to make that possible.
- If I couldn’t respect myself I was more likely to attract in a man who wouldn’t respect me because I didn’t know how to let someone – anyone – treat me with respect.
- If I couldn’t accept my innate worth then no man could support my crumbling foundation to build a self-concept that was real, honest and stable.
- If my self-judgement poisoned my self-perception then no amount of love and acceptance from a man would be allowed in to nurture my existence.
Generations of Women have been Raised to Feel Worthless
Too many women have been raised in families and societies that never placed value on them as individuals. The generations of women who were born in the times when boys were the preferred gender will know the pain of feeling worthless purely because they were a girl.
Traditions die hard. Girls are still ‘given away’ when they marry. The female gender has been owned and controlled for generations.
Women’s liberation strives to unshackle the limitations. Yet most weeks there are plots in TV shows or real life situations posted on Facebook about young women humiliating themselves or participating in debasing activities to keep the ‘cool’ boy. This makes me question whether young women have got the message that they are in fact worthy, lovable, and to be respected or if they have yet mastered the ability of self-acceptance.
Women are still assessed on their capacity to attract a mate.
A false belief emerged in the 1980’s that having power meant acting the same as men. Unfortunately, all it has resulted in is young women coming off second best. Double standards are still alive and well in the new millennium. The most obvious example is women still being labelled whores and sluts for their sexual behaviours and men studs.
Men and women are different. And that’s okay. We’re allowed to be. We can have different roles, different innate abilities and different body shapes. It doesn’t mean women have less value and worth compared to men. It also doesn’t mean that women get to miss out on being in control of our own lives.
Gender doesn’t determine our capacity to have personal power. Society and cultural mores do that.
We make up that society and we do have the ability to act in ways that display personal power in our lives. Women acting like men doesn’t equate as having power.
Acting in ways that display our personal truth is what tells others that we are in charge of our lives.
How do you think your gender has been used to limit your self-expression?