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Empowerment: A casual conversation with friends

I asked two of my friends, Alia and Emily, what empowerment meant to them.

Alia talked about knowledge, getting an 'A' in school and contributing to discussions.

My friend Emily Wilde had this to say:

"Empowerment is as foreign to me as wealth is. At the end of the day I still have to abide by what the men want and pay $3.00 per gallon to put gas in my car...What do the men want? To ignore what they do not want to see. (the men who run my company)"

She was talking about how she doesn't feel empowered. At least a when she is at her job.

She wants to start her own movement. She remembers the Riot Grrl movement in the 1990's. Emily wants to get out from under the "stiff rug of masculinity" and have a voice.

Having this conversation with two women I adore opened my eyes to their frustrations and desires.

Here is a definition of empower from

em·pow·er (ĕm-pou'ər) pronunciation
tr.v., -ered, -er·ing, -ers.

1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See synonyms at authorize.
2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable: “Computers … empower students to become intellectual explorers” (Edward B. Fiske).


Rebecca's picture

I feel empowered when..

Empowerment is such a weighted word. It has so much to do with marginalization and power struggles and privilege. And yet at the same time, I think it really shows up in my daily life in quiet, less 'activisty' ways. And I think those small moments are important too.

So here is a brief list of some of the times and ways I feel empowered:

I feel empowered when I have the courage to stand up for my beliefs, even if that just means standing up for compassion and conversation and change.

I feel empowered when I take the time to do things for myself and by myself (like bubble baths).

I feel empowered when I meet a goal I set out to accomplish, no matter how small (example: I am trying to read 50 books in 2007 and I have 3 to go!)

I feel empowered when I lead cheers like "My Body Belongs to Me" to a bunch of elementary school kids.

I feel empowered when I think about my family history--the things we have overcome and the places we are going.

So now I want to know--What makes you feel empowered? Who empowers you?

Thanks for making me think about all of these things Goldie!

Goldie Davich's picture

those small moments are important

Thank you for sharing this list of specific times when you've felt empowered.

Right now what comes to mind are deeply personal moments in my life. I want to build a list of moments that I can share with you and PulseWire.

I can tell you that the people who have empowered me are the people who have told me in no uncertain terms that "I deserve to be heard" and "I do have something to offer this world"....

My friend Alia and I were talking about the subject of a paper she had written for school Emma Goldman (someone whom I am not extremely familiar with but am curious about) and I asked her if she thought Emma felt empowered. Alia said "she felt is was her right AND responsibility to speak out". -- I thought that was interesting.

Goldie Davich, PulseWire Online Intern

Julie L's picture

I found your words about

I found your words about empowerment at the right moment. I just received slightly disappointing news that an essay I wrote wasn't accepted into an anthology. Lately I'm trying to write and simply put myself out there more. I feel a bit rejected, but I know deep down that true empowerment comes from within and isn't dependent on exterior circumstances. Doing some yoga or reading a book about meditation, like The Power of Now, usually reminds me that being calm in the present is the most important and empowering thing I can do.

Rebecca's picture

I think it's awesome that

I think it's awesome that you have the guts to submit your work! There are so many writers/artists who never even get to that point. So go you!

Goldie Davich's picture


I really, really, really, don't like feeling rejected. I think that is why sometimes I don't take certain risks... Taking risks makes me feel empowered. I should remember that! :-)
Goldie Davich, PulseWire Online Intern

Gene's picture

Helping Others Results in Empowerment

There are 28 men in our community of retired persons. Many of them use computers. When there is a computer problem, they ask me to help them. The fact that they ask is already empowerment. To be needed results in empowerment.

I am thinking about the many mothers who spend so much time on their little ones. These mothers are needed and they know it. A hug from their child is a reward which is priceless and full of empowerment.

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