Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1331, (9 - 15 February 2017)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1331, (9 - 15 February 2017)

Ahram Weekly

The X factor

Al-Ahram Weekly discovers what it really means to be a woman

The X factor
The X factor

Many people think that being a woman is synonymous with being feminine, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines femininity as “the quality or nature of the female sex” or “womanliness.” Yet, all human beings are born with both masculine and feminine qualities.

 “Hair, make-up, a backless dress, high heels and red lipstick may all be important things for a woman, but they are most definitely not what being feminine is all about,” said Asma Mourad, a femininity coach.

Unfortunately, according to Mourad femininity has somehow become associated with vulnerability and weakness in Egypt and the Arab world. “Women have been fighting for their equality with men, and in the process they may have allowed their most valuable asset to slip away,” she said.

We have got used to the idea that we can have what a man has if we act like one, not noticing that we may be sacrificing our femininity in return for our rights. This is something Mourad is trying to change by working closely with women to help them get back in touch with their feminine energy through various sessions and seminars.

According to Mourad, women have tremendous power when they embrace their feminine energy in the right way. “We use our masculine energy to help us focus, produce, rationalise and take action, whereas feminine energy helps us with listening, feeling and creativity, for example,” said Rasha Hussein, a certified meditation instructor.  

“The most important thing is to understand and maintain a balance between the two feminine and masculine powers in order to achieve the happiness and harmony we all crave in our lives,” she explained.  

Being feminine can be a willingness to be vulnerable and open, and that takes a lot of courage and more than opting for the typical masculine choice of protecting yourself and closing up.  

“As children, we hear comments like, ‘you are too fat,’ ‘your nose is too big,’ or ‘you can do much better at school,’ ” explained Heba Ismail, an executive in a multinational company. “Then we grow up and hear stuff like, ‘you should have a real career like an engineer, doctor or a lawyer,’ or ‘that man is too good for you and he will never go out with you,’ ” she added.

Upbringing and the rules imposed on women by the family and society put more pressure on women. So in order to be accepted and loved, some women may put on masks in an effort to be what other people think they should be. “We waste our lives trying to fit the mould and live up to other people’s expectations of us,” said Hussein.

As a result, “we begin to evaluate ourselves through the opinion of others, thus forgetting who we are, what we want, and how we truly feel,” she said. “But when you learn to love and accept yourself the way you are, people will be forced to love and accept you too, and they will just want to be around you,” Mourad explained.  

“I am the perfect example of that,” said Ismail, a divorced mother of two who has been on a voyage of self-discovery for over a year.

“I used to be my own worst enemy, but when I learned to work with and cultivate my feminine power I turned myself into my own best friend and I became convinced that I deserved to be loved and accepted the way I am,” she said. “I know it may sound like a cliché, but if you love yourself others will too. And the way you feel and talk about yourself will reflect on how others feel and talk about you,” Mourad said.

If you talk negatively about your body, your job or your life in general, this is how people around you will perceive you. “If your root feelings are bitterness and discontent, you will radiate these to the outside world,” Mourad added.

Many people, both men and women, have difficulty accepting love from others because they don’t love themselves. “Many women in a relationship tend to take extra care of themselves just for the sake of the man they are with,” she explained. “They don’t know how to take care of themselves or be happy without being in a relationship,” she added.

This is probably why many women are scared of losing the man in their lives. “They fear losing a relationship, a future, security and most importantly the good feeling about themselves when they are with a man they like,” explained Ismail.

But the truth is “we don’t need men to make us feel good about ourselves because we can get all those feelings from inside,” Mourad added. “You don’t need a man to make you feel energetic. Do your hair and nails, take care of your body, and wear good clothes,” said Ismail. “You can do all that for yourself.”

IN TOUCH: When a woman is truly in touch with her feminine energy she doesn’t need to have a man or to act like a man in order to create the life she wants.

 “The life she wants comes to her with ease,” Mourad explained. “Get to know who you are, spend some quality time with yourself on regular basis and learn to communicate with yourself,” Hussein advised. “Don’t wait for a man to bring out the best in you when you can do it on your own,” she added.  

For Ismail, this was not easy at first, however. “Following my divorce, I was miserable. I would stay at home for days feeling sorry for myself, and when I finally had the courage to go out I went to my favourite coffee shop on my own,” she explained. “It felt awkward being there alone, so I looked at my phone for an hour hoping that nobody would notice I was alone. I had no clue back then about how to enjoy my own company,” she added.

However, learning to love yourself can make all the difference. “Now I truly enjoy going out to public places alone, and I make sure I get some quality time with myself regularly,” she said.

Once you get in touch with your feminine energy and learn to love yourself and commit to your own development and growth, everything changes, she said. “You will feel an instant shift in your vibe, and you will start to attract the right people for yourself,” she added.

A woman can also be more feminine when she has interests and hobbies of her own. “Don’t make a man the centre of your life,” advises Mourad. “Stay in touch with your friends and have interests that make you happy,” she said. “You will attract the right man without making an effort if you truly believe that your happiness and well-being don’t depend on the actions or words of a man.”

In fact, men appreciate and feel attracted to women who have goals along with a busy and interesting life. “And if a man asks you to give up your life for him,” said Ismail, “you should give him up instead.”

But when in a relationship, many women tend to do everything, putting a lot of effort into the details and decision-making. They think men don’t know what to do in a relationship. But the truth, according to Ismail, is that “men fall in love when they can offer something, not when you do everything for them.”

“When you flood a man with affection and attention, you are acting from your own masculine energy and there is not much room for him to offer any,” she explained. “Giving up your life to accommodate his needs and investing time and energy more than he does will make him see you as a mother or as a friend and he may doubt your value in another role,” she added.

“Please avoid drama,” advises Mourad. “Some women go to extremes to get the attention of men, like faking sickness for example,” she said. Women in general can be emotional creatures. Emotions are good, but what makes the difference is how you express them.

“A woman who is always expressing herself dramatically will be perceived by others as over-emotional,” Mourad explained. On the other hand, “women who don’t express themselves at all and stuff their emotions away will be considered cold or distant.” So there is a need for balance.

“You know those confident women who seem to know how to deal with men and always be in the centre of attention,” said Mourad. “Those skills come naturally to some women, but other women may have to learn how to develop them.”

Unfortunately, too many women are stuck in their masculine energy and disconnected from their femininity. “I feel it is an epidemic in our society. We don’t teach girls to be feminine, and they have few role models to look up to,” she said. This is what she aims to change through her work with women on femininity, self-development, body confidence and sexuality.

“Men are always in their masculine energy at work and with friends, so when they are at home with their wives they don’t want to deal with a man disguised as a woman,” Mourad explained. “They need to be with a woman who knows how to feel rather than how to decide, and to sense rather than to judge. They need to be with a woman who knows how to express herself without hurting others,” she said.

Most importantly, she continued, “they need a woman who knows how to accept pleasure and appreciate it instead of always going out of her way to please others.” Ismail also believes that if more women would be ladies then more men would be gentlemen. “It’s that simple,” she said. 

add comment

  • follow us on