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“Still, I Rise” – Thoughts and Reflections on Women’s Empowerment by Fiona McHugh

By: Fiona McHugh

Woman in the water

Source: “Still, I Rise” – Thoughts and Reflections on Women’s Empowerment | Fiona McHugh

Fiona McHugh reflects on the empowerment that arises from embracing your more “feminine” side.

And Still, I Rise

For years, I battled with accepting the passive aspect of my nature. I saw myself as weak, fragile, and helpless. Western Culture values the prominent masculine traits of dominance, assertiveness, and toughness. To be respected, or thought of as “strong,” one must always be on the forefront, defending themselves in order to protect their ego.

For most of my life, I’ve tried to elevate these traits that we tend to admire in this culture – and it was exhausting.

Putting so much effort and stress on hiding vulnerability and sensitivity, while magnifying competitiveness and dominance, dimmed the luminous, graceful qualities that I was born with – that we all are born with.

Fiona McHugh

Why is it that we see the empathetic, quiet, and calm natured as weak? Why is there such glorification of assertiveness?

As women, we are still trying to fight for equality; to be respected as much are men are. An important aspect of this movement is to honor the gentleness and elegance we naturally have.

Proving that we are equal to men by constantly trying to embody what we consider “masculine,” is still telling the world that “feminine” qualities are not equal.

Fiona McHugh

Female empowerment doesn’t have to be obtained by women mirroring the qualities western culture honors in men. We most certainly can exhibit these characteristics in moments we resonate with them, but that doesn’t mean we have to in order to be seen as strong. Strength isn’t solely about conquering – it’s flourishing and being appreciative of the ability to honor how you feel about who you are within the present moment.

Flowers in a New York City trash can

Source: “Still, I Rise” – Thoughts and Reflections on Women’s Empowerment | Fiona McHugh

To emphasize and beautify the emotions we have in the present, regardless of how messy or senseless they are, is truly living. If we are constantly battling and hiding our feelings of vulnerability in order to appear strong and in control, we are truly missing out on the experience of life.

This doesn’t just apply to women, but men as well. At a young age, boys are told that displaying any sort of vulnerable emotion is considered “weak.” They are told to “toughen up” and “be a man.” Not only does this teach young boys that being gentle equates to being weak, but it also teaches them that girls are fragile since those qualities are only socially acceptable for them to express (to a degree, or else they are called “hysterical”). This ingrains into their minds a tainted perspective of women.

This cycle hurts all of us. 

Fiona McHugh

Women near waterfalls

Source: “Still, I Rise” – Thoughts and Reflections on Women’s Empowerment | Fiona McHugh

Now, you might ask, “How can I naturally express these gentle traits of mine, without being perceived as passive or helpless?”

Well, the answer is: By knowing your own power and your definition of it.

If you believe that empathy, sensitivity, vulnerability, and harmony are the pillars of true strength, then why are you worried about the opinions of others or how they perceive you?

In my opinion, the true definition of power is to know who you are and be it. To constantly try to change the minds around you in order to feel respected or seen a certain way is actually giving your power away.

When you see the true beauty of your sensitive characteristics, and just “be” them, you are standing in your own power. Life is also much less stressful and a lot more fun this way!

Over the years, I’ve come to acknowledge, accept, and express these qualities of mine. The only power I’ve lost was when I affirmed the negative opinions others held of me.

The Definition of a Powerful Woman

  • Isn’t trying to justify, or feel like she has to explain herself; because she sees the value her own perspective.
  • Has no intention to compete with other women.
  • Doesn’t feel the need to embody the traits of men in order to obtain respect or be considered strong.
  • Continuously feels and expresses all the emotions, regardless of if she is called “dramatic” or “hysterical.”
  • Speaks when she has something to say, and observes when she wants to understand. 

Head on over to Fiona’s blog to read more of her brilliant writing!


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