A New York Times essay titled “How Empowerment Became Something for Women to Buy” came out today and it pointed a finger to something I had been reflecting on for a while, now.
Empowerment is arguably the buzz word of the moment, we all work on “empowering” someone or some idea and frankly, many times the use of the word is nothing close to ridiculous. From workshops, to lingerie, to make-up and soaps; we all seem to forget that empowerment can only come from within.
NOTHING we buy or listen to will empower us. There can be opportunities that facilitate connections, learnings, realizations, yes; and that is exactly we we offer at YoSoyM; but claiming that we are the ones making it happen for people is not only dishonest, it is impossible.
It is individually us, who make decisions to be better, to try new things, to walk away from fear and start working on our great ideas. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, to create products or services that support those decisions or provide the resources so people can make those decisions, what I profoundly dislike is the concept that empowerment is for sale. That if you pay the price, your problems will be gone or you will magically get the tools to bypass all barriers to acquire your dreams, or lose weight, or have better self-steam, open a business, etc.
Sometime ago, I wrote a post about “Poverty Porn” and I feel that many times, empowerment is the new iteration of this idea that pity sells. An avalanche of stuff talking about what we lack… Like the essay article masterfully puts: “Empowerment” invokes power while signifying the lack of it”
Looking at synonims of the word, I found: legitimizing, allowing, permitting, licensing, etc” and those meanings are just NOT reflective of using your talents, power and skills to better yourself…. So, what to do about this? For one, I have decided I will start replacing the word “empowerment” with strenghtening and facitating which I believe much better reflect what we work on.