It’s common knowledge by now that the word “Empowered” when it pertains to women is a synonym for “Not having any power”. That is the reason why only women need to be empowered. David Cameron, Barrack Obama, President Zarkozy… none of these important people need to be empowered… for they are in possession of a much stronger currency… actual power.
Politicians such as Nick Clegg wax lyrical about empowering women. His favourite is empowering women in third world to birth their babies “safely”, by delivering them into the hands of western male medical fraternity as opposed to actually doing something that would help the women, such as lifting them out of poverty so they’re not malnourished in pregnancy, training enough midwives, or telling women they don’t have to fuck men if they don’t want to and putting laws in place to protect their right not to fuck. That would give them a modicum of power.
But giving women access to real power is not the imperative here. Empowerment is.
Which is all about keeping women as powerless as possible while giving patriarchs opportunities to become knights in shining armour.
Pole dancing? Porn? Prostitution? All empowering for women. Women should just shut up about real power, they’ve got all the empowerment they’ll ever need, and a lot more than men will ever have. Men don’t have access to any empowerment at all, in fact, because they have to settle for solid, tangible power instead, poor souls.
But it struck me two days ago that there has actually been an empowering element to radical feminism that I actually hadn’t noticed before. Not powerful but empowering… and yet still useful.
Growing up I came across so many tragedies, large and small: cruelty against animals, death and rape… and I was taught (wrongly) that this was just the way of the world. Orphans? Can’t be helped. Women forced to go through childbirth only to give the baby away for adoption? No other choice. Animals used for experimentation? What a shame.. and so forth.
Except now, finally, I realize that it can all be helped. That the root of all evil is patriarchy: the rule of the father. It is not an accident. The suffering has not come about by some mystic hiccup led by unknown forces. It is the deliberate destruction of women, vulnerable men, children, animals and the natural world by powerful men.
THe enemy has come into focus. I am not fighting smokes and mirrors any longer. I can see clearly for the first time, (as a woman who wants the world’s suffering to end) precisely who and what I am up against.
Suffering will end when patriarchy ends. It is that simple.
And so while this knowledge has not given me any power to speak of, it has been strangely empowering. Pole-dancing empowerment is worse than useless to us; but having the ability to name your enemy…. yes, there is something rather empowering about that.