Our society assigns everyone a gender at birth. It then treats them differently based on this assigned gender. The way girls and women are socialized around their sexuality blocks them from having full agency and power in their lives. So for coaches, the question becomes: how to empower women?
It’s notable that a lot of women empowerment programs actually exclude sexuality. This omission repeats the negative socialization women experience around their desires and makes these programs less effective.
Why is Women’s Empowerment Important?
There are many different facets to this negative societal messaging – all designed to rob women (or those socialized as such) of their power early on.
1. Women Are Told They Are Not As Capable as Men
Men are often viewed as successful, solely based on their career achievements. In contrast, women are seen as successful if they achieve marriage and children. While it cane be wonderful to have a family, women should not be seen as less valuable if they don’t want a partner or off spring. A woman’s value should be based on her accomplishments or the things she most values in herself.
Though equally capable and intelligent as men, societal messaging also frequently makes women feel less competent and deserving. This has led many professional women to accept lower pay for the same job than their male counterparts. According to data from the US Census Bureau, the average gender pay gap in the United States in 2018 was around 18.9%. So a woman working a full-time, year-round job earned only 81.1% of what a man in the same position made.
2. Women Are Told They Are Worthy Only If They Get and Keep a Relationship
When it comes to relationships, familial, social and media-based messages often make women feel as though they need to have a relationship. It becomes a life goal to get married – just in order to feel worthy and accomplished. That’s especially evident in the cult around weddings and brides, spurred on by a $53 billion annual wedding industry.
White women in specific are often offered a fairytale version of relationships. They are taught to follow their feelings of love at all cost, and to expect a man to take care of them. Their partners should save them from ever having to be disappointed or deal with negative feelings. This entitlement of “happily ever after” can cause some women to become emotionally disempowered and blaming when they are not getting what they feel is their fairytale.
And while women of color are often left out of the expectation of “happily ever after”, they are generally haunted by stereotypical expectations that erase their individuality.
3. Women Are Shamed For Their Bodies and Sexuality
Throughout history, women have been policed and shamed for their body, appearance and sexuality.
In many cultures, women are only seen as valuable to society if they fit a stereotypical representation of beauty which is generally both racist and homophobic. Most of these ridiculous ideals – visible especially in film, television, and social media – show a slim (but with large butts and breasts), white, cis-gendered woman. Striving to fit this image often leads to eating disorders and unnecessary cosmetic surgery at a young age. In 2017, 229,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients aged 13 to 19 alone.
4. Girls Are Told to Stay Virgins
When it comes to sex, girls are given strong messages around the importance of keeping their virginity in order to stay valuable.
They are shamed as sluts if they are too overtly sexual. Often, girls are also given fear messages around sex and rarely told they are deserving of pleasure. As a result, they end up distancing themselves from their desire and sexual power.
5. Women Are Urged To Be “Nice”
In the same breath they are taught to be the firm gatekeepers of sex and say “no” to avoid being seen as a slut, they are also taught to be “nice”.
If they behave in any way that seems masculine or aggressive, they are shamed. This hypocrisy makes it difficult for women to keep their actual boundaries, or to ask clearly and directly for what they want.
6. Women Experience Abuse and Harassment
Playing into this also is the too-often shared experience of being sexually or physically abused, raped, molested, or harassed. They early on learn to be hyper vigilant out in the world, and this constant sense of fear can hold them back and disempower them.
What Is the Process of Empowering Someone Who Has Been Socialized in These Negative Ways?
Step 1: Helping them unlearn the negative messages they have absorbed during childhood and socialization.
Step 2: Guide them through a series of women empowerment activities that help them become more embodied and in touch with their actual desires.
Empowerment Activities For People Socialized as Women
In the Somatica Training, we offer many tools to help women reclaim their power and selfhood. This women’s empowerment program includes learning how to:
- Heal from crossed boundaries and reclaim the rights to your body
- How to love and embrace the body you have – and to be inside of yourself, instead of looking at your body from the outside with a critical eye
- Get emotionally empowered so you are not dependent on others to save you from challenging emotions
- Claim your right to your desires, your sexual pleasure, and food (if you have adopted societal messages about eating)
- Learn clear and direct ways to share your boundaries and ask for what you want – including at work, with your families, friends and partners
- Reconnect with your inner sources of knowledge in regards to what you want for yourself in life
- Gain a full catalogue of what is on the menu for you sexually – and so you can identify, ask for and teach your partner how to please you
- Work with transgender women and non-binary folks
Female Empowerment Coaching
If you’re drawn to female empowerment coaching as a career, Somatica is a wonderful pathway. It includes what many other women’s empowerment programs leave out – namely the profound and important need for women to reclaim their bodies and sexual pleasure as a road to self-awareness, confidence, and a fully self-expressed, joyful life.