This week I had an interesting conversation with a husband-wife team who own a business together. Since I work only with female business owners, I wasn’t sure why Mr. Biz owner sat in on my conversation with Ms Biz owner, but I didn’t ask any questions.
I could tell that my “women only” service made him uncomfortable because he went over the top professing that his wife made her own decisions, that he’d never told her she couldn’t do something. When a man has to work that hard to convince me he’s not a chauvinist, I get a little skeptical.
I listened politely but soon became weary of his campaign to convince me that he’s a progressive kind of guy. Then he dropped the “E” word.
“My wife is an empowered woman,” he said.
I couldn’t resist. “Well you sound like a pretty empowered man to me,” I replied cheerfully.
That’s when he got red in the face and sputtered, “I don’t have to be empowered. I’m a man!”
I doubt they’ll invite me to dinner.
So why is it that women need to be empowered, but men get offended at the thought of being empowered?
Ah, they already power! To be empowered implies that we don’t have power and someone has to give it to us, as evidenced by this man’s reaction to my compliment about how empowered he is.
Perhaps women in developing countries, where it is common for women to be marginalized, need to be empowered — through legal changes, education, culture shifts, access to opportunities — but do women in the U.S. really need someone to empower us?
So ladies, how do you feel about your own power? Do you feel comfortable embracing your own power or do you believe someone needs to empower you?
I’d love to read your comments. And of course, if you are intrigued by what you read, feel free to share, but only if you think it adds to a good conversation.