Femininity. I bet that when you read that word, you had some stereotypes running through your head – burning bras, opinionated women being loud and in-your-face about it or a helpless damsel-in-distress girl who is dressed in frills. Notice something? Why does femininity (and feminism, which tends to be lumped into it) have a slightly negative connotation?
Popular media nowadays like to blast us with tag phrases such as “We are independent strong women!” or as famously uttered by Madonna, “I’m tough, ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” The image we get is one that is tough and almost (do I dare say), masculine.
While there is nothing wrong with promoting and encouraging females to be strong and independent, what is then wrong with being feminine? Which is why I found it refreshing to learn that Dr Martha has a workshop entitled “Powerful & Radiantly Feminine” which she runs regularly. Can we be both powerful and feminine at the same time without being called names or accused of being ‘a man’?
The workshop was really intimate, with about seven of us, and this really did help us to be a lot more honest and open with our sharing. Similar to the rest, coming from a corporate background meant that there have been times where I felt like I needed to mimic my male colleagues but as a result, some people (men usually) have told me that I can come across as very corporate and therefore, intimidating. This has certainly crossed from my professional to my personal life, which doesn’t bode well in the relationship arena.
The first ‘lightbulb’ moment I got was when Dr Martha said that both femininity and masculinity are present in men and women. It’s fluid and any male or female can be more or less feminine/masculine at any given time. That explains why I can still be deemed ‘corporate’ or ‘intimidating’ despite wearing a dress or how some men are labeled as feminine due to the way they talk. On the flip side, some women exude a certain je nais se quoi and we’re often clueless as to what it is that makes them both strong and soft at the same time.
But naturally, when you’re talking about femininity and masculinity, which you can categorise as ‘sexuality’, it is natural to then relate it to relationships – especially between partners. Which is why Dr Martha, who is a sexologist, even conducts this workshop. Too many women are not really in touch with their feminine side and do not recognise men’s masculine psyche and this causes a lot of friction in relationships.
Femininity can be described to be like a river – every flowing and changing. While masculinity is firm and strong but also unyielding. Both have its strengths and weaknesses, which is why everyone projects both masculinity and femininity whenever the situation calls for it. Reminds me a little bit about the philosophy of Tao. Which is also why I feel that the current rhetoric of being strong, independent women is a bit lacking. We don’t realise that when it comes to relationships, sometimes we females need to be ‘soft’ in order to effectively get what we want instead of being ‘hard’ and clashing head on with our partners or even colleagues. Being a strong female does not mean that we emasculate men or become men ourselves!
The highlight of this workshop has got to be the short exercises that we did to understand how to get in touch with our “feminine essence”. Dr Martha told us that these exercises are based on her tantric studies and we would be exploring the head space, the heart space and for women, the womb space. There are corresponding chakra names for these areas but we shall not go into that.
Working with a partner, we were made to be both observer and participant – where each would take turns talking about our day using the head and womb space. How does one talk from these spaces? Simply imagine that your energy to speak comes from that area and voila! Interestingly, both my activity partner and I observed the same things – when we spoke of our day using our head space, it seemed as if we hate our day and it was really dull and boring. However, when we talked about the same day using our womb space, it suddenly did not come across as a bad day. In fact, my partner said that I “glowed” when I spoke using my womb space. It also hit me that I have been using the head space to talk to people whom I dislike!
Being in touch with the womb space
Dr Martha then explained that speaking from this space is the most powerful for women and this is feminine power. When speaking from there, it is not strange. In fact, it made me more conscious that I have been speaking from there in many instances of my life – especially when I’m giving a presentation or teaching in a seminar.
What then if we spoke from the heart (space)? Sounds like something that would come across as sincere, right? Dr Martha then explained that most women spoke from that area (chest) but because it is not the most powerful, when we women speak from there, it comes across as ungrounded and ‘airy’. That would explain why we are not taken seriously by men sometimes.
We also learnt what it would be like to draw from the masculine energy too and although we did not practice it, there was a palpable difference when we observed Dr Martha’s demonstration. She also showed us how the way we stand (either having both feet planted on the ground or most of the weight on one leg) affected how others perceived whether we were more masculine or feminine.
It is this consciousness, this mindfulness, that is going to be useful for us – if we practise, practise, practise. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. For the full-day workshop where you learn a lot more about feminine presence and personal sexuality, Dr Martha conducts “Innately Feminine”.
I must say that this workshop has broadened my definition of what it means to be feminine and I’m a lot more mindful of how I want to project myself to others.
Photo credits: Pixabay and Melissa Fann