Are You Angry Enough to Embrace Your Power To Act? (3 Signs You Are)

by Gloria Feldt on March 23rd, 2012
in Activism, Feminism, ForbesWoman, Leadership, Power, Women's History and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Get power-to without leaving home!

Join me for a No Excuses Facebook chat on my fanpage Sunday, March 25, at 3pm eastern, 2pm central, 1pm mountain, noon pacific, etc. I’ll be on video, you’ll be able to ask questions and talk with others via chat box. It’s easy. Really. And there will be giveaways! Let me know if you’re coming here.

In decades of experience as a women’s advocate, I’ve learned people can be inspired to action by one of two things: anger or aspiration.

A roiling, boiling anger is propelling women — even many who’ve never been activists before — to embrace their “power to” to take leadership and make change. They’re making their voices heard over the din of political rhetoric they might shun under other circumstances.

There was no one trigger, rather a succession of insults. I talked with Richard Lui about them this week on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co. Here’s a smattering:

  • After 30-year-old Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was denied the chance to speak about why contraceptives should be covered by insurance…
  • After the stunning optics of an all-male “expert” panel pontificating on women’s reproductive health before a Senate committee (also all-male because the women on the committee were so incensed they walked out)…
  • After shock jock Rush Limbaugh denigrated Fluke, calling her a slut and a prostitute (can one be both—don’t sluts give it away?) and demanding to see videos of her having sex…
  • After bills like those in Texas and Virginia forcing women seeking abortions to submit to 10″ ultrasound “shaming wands” (as Doonesbury dubbed them), an AZ bill requiring women to bring notes to their employers verifying they take birth control for health reasons not pregnancy prevention or risk being fired, and a Tennessee bill that mandates public reporting of the doctors by name and the demographics of each patient…

Women are rightly furious.

Why is this happening?

Writer Susan Swartz, who blogs at Juicy Tomatoes, notes, “It’s not just the warbling of a choir boy who believes that sex should only be for procreation and wants to turn the country into a theocracy. It’s a growing roar against women with one wild-eyed effort after another to attach new laws to women’s bodies.”

Hillary Clinton take at the Women in the World conference in New York recently was, “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.”

Have women finally stopped playing nice about all these “power over” affronts? Here are three signs that tell me the answer is a resounding YES!

  1. Individuals aren’t waiting for someone else to tell them to take action. They’re just doing it. Like Sandra Fluke—who now says she’d consider running for elected office. Go, Sandra, you’ve sure got my vote!
  2. Pro-woman legislators, previously silent, are filing in-your-face bills that smoke out those cruel and unjust measures that shame, blame, and make women barefoot and pregnant again. The antidotes? Requiring men seeking Viagra to first have a cardiac stress test and rectal exam or watch videos of treatment for prolonged erections to one that would restrict vasectomies to men who are at imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm.
  3. Between the spontaneous petitions, thousands of smart-ass but well taken questions on TX Gov. Rick Perry’s Facebook page (“What kind of tampons do you recommend, Gov. Perry?” “I’ve been researching chastity belts and would like your opinion.”), and constant chatter about the issues, I haven’t heard this decibel level of righteous anger since early 2001.

In my book No Excuses, I urge women to redefine power from the oppressive power over, rightly resisted by many women, to the expansive leadership implied by power to.

So yesterday on my Facebook page, I asked: “Are women finally getting angry enough to embrace their power to?”

Hong Kong spa director Shoshana Weinberg asked in response: “Why does it have to be anger? Can’t love get us there?”

My answer was:

Love without using our power to stand up for ourselves got us into this pickle. Anger is a good motivator to action. But you are right, anger isn’t enough. After we get riled up by anger, we need aspiration. Aspiration to use the “power to” for good. For me, that’s another, more intentional word for love.

More on aspiration in another post. But for now, I want to know:

What about you? Are you angry enough to embrace your power to? How?

And PS: Want to talk about the concept of power to and the Power tools in No Excuses? Join me this Sunday, March 25, at 3pm eastern for a chat on my Facebook page. It’s easy! Full info and instructions here.

This article originally ran in a blog post for FORBESWOMAN. Check it out here.

Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

7 Responses to Are You Angry Enough to Embrace Your Power To Act? (3 Signs You Are)

  1. Aletha says:

    What is the mystery about men wanting to control women? Men fear the power of women, go to great lengths to keep women down under their thumbs, and it is far from limited to just extremist men. Has Hillary Clinton thought about the history of leftist movements? How about the Occupy movement? Why, Barack Obama wants parents to control whether their underage daughters get emergency contraception! Common sense, he calls it! Why he gets a pass for that, and other insults to women that make me question his feminist bona fides, is a big mystery to me. Oh I know, it is because Republicans are so much worse! Cold comfort, that.

    Sexism runs clear across the political spectrum. Democrats relish women getting angry at Republicans. Women should be angry at Republicans, but why stop there? Because it is terrifying to realize that neither side of this hopelessly dysfunctional, destructive, fascistic political machine called the old boy network represents women or has our best interests at heart?

  2. Colette says:

    You are so right right right!

  3. Julie Golden says:

    So sorry that I read this too late for the March 25, chat. I’m sure there is more to come – will watch for it. (Thanks for the Voice of America interview, which brought me here today.)
    Expressions of anger are found on my novel, Vagilantes. Published this month, it has a tagline of – Pedophiles, be afraid. Very afraid.
    I found it disturbing that during the final edits of Vagilantes, I was not longer feeling anger, and I was afraid that perhaps aspiration would also be evasive for me. Intellectually, I’m mad as hell, but physically, I’m calm and pain-free. Maybe this is a new type of power which will help with my mission for this more-fun-than-it-sounds book:

    The message of Vagilantes is to validate a desire held by millions of  damaged souls – the powerful urge to take radical action against men who are too uncivilized to live among us.

    Thanks Gloria, for all that you do.

    • Gloria Feldt says:

      Julie, Your message sounds incredibly important. I suggest that the calm feeling you have now has come because you expressed your anger authentically and more important you took action. Taking action is for me always the best way to take the anger energy and turn it into something positive. Let it be the fuel to make the world better instead of allowing it to fester and burn us up inside.

  4. Aletha says:

    When enough women get angry and bold enough to realize that politics as usual is inimical to our best interests, I will share your optimism, Gloria. Democrats have women on a tight leash. They get away with that because there appears to be no alternative. There are always alternatives, but the powers that be want to keep their power, so they maintain the fiction of the inevitability of this two-party system. Women will have to take matters into our own hands to clean up the horrific mess the old boy network has made of this world. All it would take is for enough women to realize the Democratic Party only pretends to represent us because it needs our votes, throw off that leash and represent ourselves, outside the confines and control of conventional wisdom.

  5. Pingback: They’re Doing It: AAUW and NASPA Honor 5 | 9 Ways

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