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The True Power of Womanhood

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A few years ago, some friends in my YSA group put together a girl’s night. These particular gals were some of the funniest I’ve ever known, and they jokingly asked me to put together a “lecture” about the power of womanhood. Never one to back down from a challenge—even one given in jest—I sat down to write a really impassioned, fiery, TED-style speech on Feminism in the Modern Age. Solidarity, Sister. Girl Power. No Men Allowed. That sort of thing.

But then I remembered why I’m not completely comfortable with modern feminism. In many ways, it still feels like latent misogyny hidden behind the mask of equality and basic human rights. While the feminist movement has done many, many good things, the driving argument behind it has always been, “We can work like men. We can think like men. We can lead like men. We can be strong and tough and loud and fierce and crude like men. We can rule nations and conquer armies and dirty our hands with blood, sweat, and tears and be powerful—Just. Like. Men.” In short, Feminism is really Male-ism. It’s leveling the playing field by making everyone the same—by turning women into men.

Even the word “powerful” has distinctly male connotations.

Powerful. Adjective. Having great power or strength.

Example: “A fast, powerful car.”

Synonyms include strong, muscular, muscly, sturdy, strapping, robust, mighty, hefty, brawny, burly, husky, athletic, manly, well built, Herculean, tough, solid, substantial.[1]

Man man man man men men manly men man.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a man.

I am a woman.

Does this mean I cannot be powerful?

Let’s look a little closer.

Power. Noun. The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.

Example: “The power of speech.”

Synonyms include ability, capacity, capability, potential, faculty, competence.[1]

Now, I’m a bit of a word nerd, and I don’t think the respective parts of speech mentioned in these definitions is an accident. An adjective is an observational statement about a noun. A noun is a statement of self, the very essence of something’s existence.

Put another way, powerful is how you are. Power is what you are.

I would like to contend that the power of womanhood comes not from our ability to act like or be like men, but from the very fact that we are women. Our power lies in the strengths and characteristics unique to our gender, those God-given attributes instilled in our spiritual makeup even before we came to this earth. The Family: A Proclamation to the World says, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” It is by identifying and embracing those gender-specific characteristics that both men and women are able to unleash the power that is part of their eternal identity as children of God.

The devil would have us believe that the only distinctly female power we have is our sexuality. Look at the media. Powerful women are always portrayed as one of two things: overly masculine or overly sexual. Consequently, the women of the world have gotten it into their heads that if they’re not either pumped full of testosterone or living up to the unrealistic beauty standards society has set for us, we are weak and/or useless.

That is absolutely false.

God, the creator of our souls, has spoken through the mouths and writings of His prophets to tell us exactly what our powers as his daughters truly are. Here is a list of some of them.

Quick to serve
Full of integrity
Close to the Spirit[2]

I could go on all night. This list is not short, ladies. There is no end to the positive qualities of womanhood that give us power. The trick is to learn them for ourselves, and learn how to use them to be a force for good in the world.

Margaret D. Nadauld, former YW General President, said, “Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. Oh, how we pray that every young woman will grow up to be all the wonderful things she is meant to be.”[3]

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.”[4]

Ladies, we are powerful. We are more powerful than we know, and no amount of fist raising or fancy rhetoric will ever change the true source and nature of our power.

Find Your Joy

What women from your life have been examples of feminine power? If you can, write them a letter thanking them for the ways they have blessed your life. Or consider writing about them in your journal to show future generations the positive influence femininity can have on the world.

I’d love to hear about these ladies, too! Tell me their story in the comments below or over on Facebook, or tag your pictures on Instagram with #jestkeptsecret.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it! Thank you!

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[1] Oxford Dictionary

[2] This is not to say that men cannot embody these same characteristics. I know many good men who do. My point is simply to illustrate the characteristics that the scriptures and church leaders have used to describe women.

[3] “The Joy of Womanhood” by Margaret D. Nadauld, October 2000 General Conference

[4] “Our Responsibility to Our Young Women” by Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Sept. 1988

Featured image by contrastwerkstatt / Adobe Stock

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Jess Friedman
Jess is a Canadian-American who’s always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about helping families make and preserve treasured memories that strengthen bonds across generations. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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6 Responses

  1. Of course I like your article! I don’t know how you get on Ted, or Theodora for that matter, but you need to give this as a speech on Ted.

  2. Thank you, Jess! I always enjoy reading your blog posts, and this one has some great insights. I liked it so well that I just shared it on my FB page. :). I love you! Will you please update my email on your contacts list? My old mailbox is full on my old account and I’ve switched to this one. Thanks!

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