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Do Tell: What Does "Empowered" Mean to You?

Do Tell: What Does "Empowered" Mean to You?

It used to be that for a woman to feel empowered, she had to do something that challenged a male-dominated, sexist society, one that asked her to be seen and not heard. A few different varieties of feminism later, and it seems you can't turn around without empowerment seemingly reduced to meaning: anything a woman chooses to do, whether it's getting breast implants or posing in Playboy!

The satirical news site The Onion had a hilarious faux op-ed piece a few years back that made fun of empowerment overload called, Women Now Empowered by Everything a Woman Does:

"According to a study released Monday, women — once empowered primarily via the assertion of reproductive rights or workplace equality with men — are now empowered by virtually everything the typical woman does. 'From what she eats for breakfast to the way she cleans her home, today's woman lives in a state of near-constant empowerment,' said Barbara Klein, professor of women's studies at Oberlin College and director of the study."

Has the idea of empowerment been stripped of real meaning, if, as The Onion suggests, even dubious acts of empowerment (like stripping or strip-pole exercising) are considered empowering? Should there be a standard? What does "empowered" mean to you?


Join The Conversation
ali321 ali321 7 years
I don't really feel you have to break the mold to be empowered. If you want to be ordinary and that makes you happy you should do that. I think it's about not being afraid to do what you want with your life and not allowing anything to hold you back.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I agree with Tidal Wave. Empowerment is breaking the mold, but also breaking your own mold. I feel empowered when I overcome an obstacle, or do something out of the ordinary thats totally awesome.
MissSophia MissSophia 7 years
Empowerment to me is doing what you want to do and not having people stop you from doing it. If that means you want to be an astronaut or a coal miner or a stay at home mum, then so be it.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
Empowerment is not panicking because I forgot to shave my armpits and I'm going sleeveless today :)
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
My idea of empowerment (somewhat) resonates with Muirnea's. My idea is rather simple. Empowerment means when one lives the life one wants. Sometimes that means going against the grain, and sometimes not. It relates to being true to one's self, and sometimes that takes courage. It relates to being true to one's self. It involves giving one's self permission to act on his/her individual, unique nature, and sometimes, that's not easy. In my opinion, this philosophy is okay as long as the person isn't hurting anybody else.
Muirnea Muirnea 7 years
Being in control of your own life. Being able to do whatever you want to do with your life for YOUR OWN REASONS. If it's not just something you want personally, it's not empowerment. Then it's conforming to society, I think that's the crucial difference. I don't think it is possible to be empowered by stripping and breast implants and the like. Stripping and breast implants are not just for yourself, they are for other people, men in particular, so they aren't empowering for you b/c you didn't do them for your own reasons. People that say they just do those things for their own self esteem aren't thinking either. Why would having big breasts or stripping automatically help your self esteem? It doesn't. Those things by themselves don't help your self esteem. Those things combined with society do. B/c you are getting more attention from men. Which means even when you say you only did something for self esteem, you didn't really, b/c you're getting that self esteem from men still. It's not just for you.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I think of empowerment as having choices and being confident and happy with the choices you've made. I can choose to take on a traditional male role. I can choose to take on the traditional female role. I can choose to stand out. I can choose to fit in. I hear people say stripping is harnessing your sexual power and that's empowerment... but I also hear people say they started stripping to pay for college... Then again, I behave certain ways due to external pressure, as well as putting my own internal pressure on myself. It's a fine line between empowerment and repression, I'm still trying to define it for myself. I think it's ultimately knowing what *you* want out of life and going for it, whether it's getting your PhD or posing for playboy (or both?)
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
I think being empowered is going after what you want, changing for the better, rising above yourself, other people and obstacles. Being empowered is realizing you have a voice, expressing your opinions or concern. Being empowered can also be realizing that you are as good as the best and better than the rest, so to speak -- confidence in yourself, who you are, and all you do. Anyone, male or female can be empowered by some of the smallest things. If stripping makes you feel good, you are empowered. If finally getting your savings up to 5k is what you wanted to accomplish, you are empowered. The list goes on. Empowerment can be found anywhere and in anything.
Quanni-E Quanni-E 7 years
I meant without....
Quanni-E Quanni-E 7 years
being empowered means you fight against the grain and you are capable of doing anything you want with conviction. women are empowered but many want to fall into that sex symbol stereotype. almost every female celeb out here is half naked or involved n some scandal. i just don't get it. better examples need to be set rather than worship the ground these people walk on. young women and little girls need to know that they're capable of anything their male counterpart is, that they don't have to be objectified in order to be loved or respected.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
SpaceKatGal - you changed your pic! I don't think female empowerment should be synonomous with women being able to do whatever they want. I dislike when women feel "empowered" by getting breast implants (in my opinion to conform to the "ideal" woman"). I don't think it's empowerment - I think it's giving in to pressures of society. I'm not dissing all plastic surgery or even breast plants - some really do have good reasons for them. But others do things so as to meet a standard society has and I don't think that's empowerment. When I think of female empowerment - I think of it as women taking on goals/challenges that traditionally were thought of as only for men, like body building or firefighting. In my career choice - being a water/wastewater engineer - there's just not that many women. People think that I'm joking when I say the majority of the women at the companies I work at are in a support staff position. And when it comes to us technical women - there's probably fifteen men for every female. I feel empowered to have chosen and be successful in a career that was once solely a man's job (because conventional beliefs say men are better at math/science than women - ha). I have ran into men in my field who try and treat me like a secretary; who tell me that "women can't be good engineers"; that I belong at home raising kids. My field is extremely old fashioned (since a lot of engineers are older to begin with (40-60's) and I constantly am having to prove that as a female, I can do just as good a job, if not better, than any male. I think empowerment is not being afraid to go outside the box, break the mold, buck the stereotypes. Not limiting yourself to what society expects of you - that's empowerment.
TidalWave TidalWave 7 years
empowered = breaking the mold
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