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 psychosexual development, I realised he had focussed 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.
The Ability to Act
Women don’t suffer from penis envy! What women have truly sought was the same level of personal power as their male counterparts. 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 have decided to convert into a series of blog posts was to interview men about being men.
This is what I learnt from their words: To be a successful man they are expected to make decisions, be in charge, control their lives (and others), be wise, knowledgeable, and achieve success in their work, in their marriages, to their family, and as a father.
Freedom to Choose my Destiny
At the age of four I knew I wanted the same freedom to choose my destiny. The freedom to grow into all I could be and the freedom to be fully responsible for myself.
I grew up under the guidance of a beautiful man who indoctrinated me with beliefs I wanted to have. He 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 wanted to need a man because I felt incomplete on my own. If I couldn’t love myself then no man was going to make that possible until I believed in myself. If I couldn’t respect myself, I was more likely to attract in a man who wouldn’t respect me either 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.
Value in being a Woman
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 but the boy isn’t. The female gender has been owned and controlled for generations. Even during these current times, I hear the overconcern about the impact the trial of gene therapies are having on BOYS. The media focus on myocarditis and pericarditis because it impacts the male gender. Thrombosis impacts the female gender as severely, yet they have moved on from these concerns.
Women’s liberation has strived to unshackle the limitations. Yet most weeks there are stories on TV or 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, to be respected, or mastered the ability of self-acceptance.
Male Power is not the same as Female Power
Women are still assessed on their capacity to attract a mate.
Believing that having power means acting the same as men has resulted in young women coming off second best because women are still 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. But that doesn’t mean we have less value and worth or more value and worth. It also doesn’t mean that we miss out on being in control of our own lives.
Gender doesn’t determine our capacity to have personal power, society and cultural mores does that.
We make up that society and we do have the ability to act in ways that displays personal power in our lives. As women acting like men doesn’t equate with 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?