By: Lisa M. Hayes
Let’s have a very frank, and possibly uncomfortable conversation about power and intimacy, shall we? As women, very few things matter more than power and intimacy. We may be getting it wrong on both accounts a lot of the time.
Power, simply defined means, the ability to get or have what you want when you want it. Some might suggest power means influence. Both might be true. However, you can influence without enough power to make anything happen. If you can’t leverage that influence to get something or change something, it’s useless.
Women tend to step away from the word or idea of power. We talk about power like it’s manipulative or requires force, like it’s a bad thing. It’s not. The words “power dynamic” tend to mean two very different things when women say them as opposed to when men say them. Women are always trying to unravel or de-code a power dynamic.
Men are usually trying to create power dynamics, and we resent them for it. Whether they are doing it consciously or not, men move in the currency of power. Whether women are doing it consciously or not, they are often trying to find ways to get what they want other than by being powerful. Women look for things that feel more cooperative or softer.
Women like buy-in and consensus. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if a woman is working from outside of her power, even consensus building will feel manipulative. It will be frustrated and grasping. If she gets the buy-in, it won’t feel right and the people who buy-in will feel the unease of it.
There is nothing wrong with just asking for what you want and expecting that request to be met. Not everyone is going to meet all your needs. However, it’s not a right; it’s a duty to speak your desires to life by asking for them – demanding them even. If you don’t ask, you deny someone the choice to say yes or no. That’s cheating them and cheating yourself.
So, I’m going to say it, and a lot of people aren’t going to be comfortable hearing it. Not all domination is bad, and when a woman dominates, it doesn’t feel like a power grab. It’s just power. A woman dominates by building where a man tends to dominate by conquering. A woman doesn’t have to conquer to dominate. She creates, evolves, unfolds and expands. There is a big difference between feminine and masculine domination.
Intimacy = connection. It’s the kind of raw, transformative connection that changes people. Intimacy is safe, but at time feels very vulnerable. Because of that perceived risk of vulnerability, intimacy often takes courage. It’s usually worth it. In fact, it’s always worth it, because even when it stings, it stretches our hearts and souls for more.
Intimacy might be typically perceived as the territory of the feminine. However, men do intimacy really well, especially if the energy is clean. That said, if it’s clouded, or needy, or distorted by fear of abandonment, a man will shut down on intimate connections like flipping a switch. Let’s face it; everyone shuts down when intimacy gets knarled and tangled. However, when a man does it, we tend to blame him or think he’s shallow.
Men don’t deal well in nuance. While we often like to tell ourselves intimacy is nuanced, that it lives in between the spoken word, it doesn’t. Intimacy is about one hundred percent built on what’s said, and it dies in the spaces in between the words where what should be said, hasn’t been spoken.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about sex and intimacy. Not to feed into a stereotype, but stereotypes happen for a reason. In longer-term monogamous relationships, men tend to want more sex than they get and women often want more intimacy. Women will withhold sex for intimacy men can’t feel without that physical connection. It becomes the chicken or the egg of the end of relationships – except it isn’t an unsolvable puzzle.
Women are in control of both intimacy and power. Silence is the killer of both. Women are complicit in their own degradation when they do not use their words to set boundaries and make demands.
I’ve also recently been pondering a troubling reality that women often consent to sex they do not want. They lay on their backs, legs spread open, with someone inside them when they had no desire for it what so ever. It feels like a duty or even a violation, but it’s one hundred percent consensual. Women prostitute themselves turning men who care about them into unwitting abusers who “should have known better,” but didn’t.
In those moments, in the dark intimacy dies and women feel powerless, useless, empty, so they blame the men who “pressure” them.
And I know, even as I write this, I’ll get dozens of emails saying that men, the patriarchy, society programs women not to value themselves enough to say no. So, yes, I concede. That happens. Women will want to remind me of all the abusers they’ve met and abuse they’ve endured, to which I say: Your wounds will not keep you safe any longer. They never actually did.
When a woman barters away her sovereignty or desire for anything, she is the one who has put down the intimate connection in her relationship. She is the one who has turned a blind eye to her power. She is the one out of balance creating the imbalance in her relationships.
A woman who says yes when she means no, in the bedroom, in the boardroom, or anywhere else, is commodifying herself for the sake of convenience – because using your voice to demand what you want can feel very inconvenient.
Women get nothing when they say yes when they mean no or visa versa.
We destroy the intimacy we desire.
We corrode our own power.
We belittle the men we cater to by giving them a lesser version of what they really crave.
A healthy man likes a woman in her power.
And if you don’t use your words to ask for what you want, you might want power, but you’ll have none. A woman dominates in the most non-manipulative way when she can ask for what she wants as if it were a demand, as if in the asking, the delivery is assured.
And here’s where the intimacy comes in –
She has to tell the truth, the raw, vulnerable version of the truth when she asks for what she wants.
It might mean saying, “I do not want you inside me. I want you to go down on me.”
It might mean saying, “I want to sleep now.”
It might mean saying, “I want you to demonstrate your presence by talking with me.”
It might mean saying, “I want a raise for doing the work I’m currently doing.”
It might mean saying, “No” or “Yes” without explanation or justification. Every time we try to explain our no’s and yes’s we diminish their value and our own worth. Those two words are single word, stand-alone, sentences. No one has to understand your “why” for it to be legitimate.
And I’m going to let you in on a secret.
Men prefer it that way. They like being told what to do because it’s clean. They aren’t good at guessing, and they know it.
No one can silence you, but you. If someone’s trying, you might want to learn to love the sound of your boots on the pavement walking away. No one who tries to silence you is worth submitting to or worth fighting for.
You have no right to anger if you don’t have what you didn’t ask for.
You have no right to anger if you submit to something you didn’t want to do.
AND IT CAN AND SHOULD ALL BE DONE WITH LOVE.
Lovingly ask for, or even demanding what you want.
Love isn’t weak. Just because it’s loving doesn’t mean it’s a suggestion.
LOVE IS THE STRONGEST FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE.
It starts with loving yourself first. From there you can lay down your anger to lovingly demand your desires to life.
I have never met a man I wanted to spend more than ten minutes with who wouldn’t concede that women hold all the cards. If you’ve got them, it’s on you to put them on the table. That doesn’t mean men are weak. They experience their strength most intensely when they are in the company of a woman who holds her own. Men are not the enemy. Silence is the enemy.
The #metoo movement can only wield so much power. It can only take us so far, and I suspect it’s already done its job. We found each other there. We realized we weren’t alone in our shame or suffering. The movement was also a turning point for men. Maybe we’ve educated some men about the misuse of power. However, men can’t liberate us.
I’m honestly only interested in what comes next. I’m particularly interested in #neveragain. That is not about putting down the abusers. We need to get above and beyond them. It’s about elevating ourselves into our own power, knowing now, what we wish we’d known before:
We must lovingly demand our sovereignty, and we will no longer waste ourselves where it is not honored.
Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.