How Gender Conditioning Limits Our Personal Impact
Last week I was working with a group of younger female acting students.
“Try dropping the need to be feminine” I suggested, grappling around for something to help them get into the grit of their work.
Why would I suggest such a thing you might ask. Well, here’s what I see in my work every single day with performers, business people and entrepreneurs alike:
So many women smile and make themselves demure so that they don’t ‘threaten’ or appear unattractive. So many women don’t use the impact of their full voice because they don’t want to be seen as bossy, loud or aggressive. So many women don’t speak up first at a meeting or do allow themselves be spoken over because they think that the men in the room are more knowledgeable or have more ‘strength’. All of these traits are conditioned ‘femininity’. This is not to be confused with being female.
But it isn’t just the women who suffer.
This is what I see in men. Many men stay serious and chest puff, especially when dealing with another man because they need to feel and/or be seen as the strongest in the room. Sometimes they use wit and humour for the same thing. Many men use their voices in a booming and overly loud way because they feel they need to control the room or situation. Many men won’t express how they really feel for fear of being called ‘feminine’ or ‘weak’ (notice the two are interchangeable in this context). All of these traits are conditioned ‘masculinity’. This is not to be confused with being male.
So what if we got past the gender conditioning and just communicated as human beings? What might be possible? We’d get out of our own way, be fully authentic and there would be no self-limiting going on whatsoever.
If we could drop concepts of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, we’d connect with each other and the world in a much more powerful way. And realising our potential would be so much easier. Our effectiveness would be off-the-chart.
It’s not easy to get past years of social and gender conditioning but it is possible. And here’s the biggest secret of all – you get to keep your full identity, your gender AND your relationships. Nothing to lose, lots to gain.
You know where I am if you want to do the work.