Monday, April 7, 2014

Empowering Women

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I participate in viewing what we call General Conference twice a year.  This consists of four 2 hour meetings, where leaders from the church speak on topics that affect the lives of all those around the world. It is uplifting and inspiring, and I love taking some time to focus on what these great men and women feel inspired to share.  It makes me reflect upon my own life; its a great opportunity to take inventory of what I personally need to work on, spiritually and otherwise.  However, in the LDS church, there has been some controversy over women's issues.  There have been some peaceful demonstrations at the Conference Center (where General Conference is held) over these issues.  I am personally a big advocate of women working to increase their role of equality in the world, and so some of this controversy causes me to reflect upon what I do believe and how I view things.  I don't have a strong opinion on women's issues as it relates to the LDS church, but I do believe that as a whole, women need to learn how to be an advocate for themselves.  I think women have special gifts in their ability to nurture, to love, to serve, and to establish and maintain relationships.  And I believe that this is a gift from God.  But I also believe that often we can become too comfortable with taking care of others in this nurturing capacity that we lose sight of what it means to take care of ourselves.

In graduate school, while studying feminist multicultural therapy, I remember a professor reading a quote: "A man who ambitious is considered successful.  A woman who is ambitious is considered a bitch."  While its easy to dismiss this quote because it's a bit egregious, I remember hearing it for the first time and taking some time to consider it.  Often, this is how gender roles are viewed in the world.   In the times in my life where I have been ambitious and aggressive, I have felt that many viewed me as overstepping my grounds as a woman.  And on the other side of the scale, women who are ambitious in areas such as homemaking and raising children are not considered ambitious at all.  

Regardless of how we choose to spend our energy or time, it is important that we understand that in order to help others, to work hard, we must first take care of ourselves.  And that ironically, when we take the time to figure out what we need, then we are better able to give.  It is a topic that comes up daily in counseling with women.This requires self awareness, confidence, and then courage to advocate for ourselves.  

Here is a snippet of an article that reminded of me this important concept.

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