The Mindset is designed to help Muslim women nurture beliefs grounded in agency, dignity and self-worth – helping us to live our best lives. In this instalment, we walk you through the Steps to Reclaiming Your Feminine Power as a Muslim Woman.
“Femininity is not weakness, not submissiveness. Femininity is strong and graceful. Like water, femininity flows—Femininity can be calm and still, like water in a pond; or strong, destructive, and fierce, like water from a tsunami.” – Nicole Lana
“Independent”, “Sassy”, “Strong” – These are adjectives used to describe women of the 21st century. The fact that we can survive, thrive and prosper without the help of a man does not necessarily mean that we want to sacrifice our femininity on the alter of strength. Being feminine is being strong. Femininity is within us. It is a way of life. It isn’t about conforming to a cookie-cutter idea of what femininity is or isn’t, neither is it about being the meek, soft-spoken submissive housewife who is always agreeable. It is rather about being true to ourselves.
A lot of women are sceptical about being perceived as “feminine”. This is not only due to the faulty belief systems passed down to us from generations ago, but it also has to do with coping with the pain and agony of our ancestors – the women before us. We were taught that being vulnerable, wild, and feminine was inferior and not desirable when in actual fact, our wild feminine was deeply feared by society. In Muslim communities, girls are taught that the ideal Muslim woman is the one one who is neither seen nor heard. They are taught that timidity, submissiveness and weakness are the only valid feminine traits recognised by Islam, In order to understand how to reclaim our power as women, we need to understand why, in the first place, femininity was suppressed and vilified.
The Suppression of Femininity
Present-day perspectives of femininity have been shaped by philosophers like Aristotle, whose ideas not only shaped societies but also infiltrated the Muslim world. Aristotle propounded theories that called men “active” and women “passive.” Aristotle’s views on women influenced some Western thinkers, as well as Islamic thinkers. In his Politics, Aristotle saw women as subject to men, and he compares this to the relationship between human beings and tame animals—‘It is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept alive. In the same way, the relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.
For Aristotle, the woman was a “mutilated male,” someone who does not have a soul. And it is the woman’s biology that makes her inferior also in her capacities, her ability to reason, and therefore, her ability to make decisions. As a result of this viral perspective, many women, including some of our mothers, influenced by these belief systems, may have denied and suppressed their femininity as a result. From using “girly” as an insult and assuming that things created by women are only for women to asserting that women need to act masculine to be successful, we need to tune into and unlearn the many ways that society devalues femininity. And how best to do this than to stay true to ourselves, be unapologetic about who we are and take back our feminine power?
Here are just a few steps to resetting your mind, unlearning this faulty belief and reclaiming your feminine power.
1. Question Beliefs Relative to What True Femininity Means
When you think back to everything our mothers and ancestors taught us about being a woman, do you find that you hold these beliefs to be the unfiltered truth? Or do you examine everything you were told, unlearn what doesn’t feel right and adopt beliefs that you feel reflect your true feminine nature? Questioning beliefs relative to what femininity is the first step to reclaiming your feminine power as a woman.
Some of these beliefs may have been formed as a result of trauma and/or certain events in the past passed down from your ancestors. As you embark on this journey towards unlearning and relearning, you may start to grieve the loss of your feminine self in the past. This is not only a positive thing, it is the beginning of so many amazing things to come.
2. Cultivate Kindness and Be True to Yourself
Are there some parts of you that you feel afraid to show the world? Do you find yourself suppressing your true self to conform to what society wants you to be? It may be just the right time to sit down and have a talk with yourself. if you have always rejected the part of you that is angry for example, just because you had been taught that being agreeable makes you a woman and showing anger in any situation makes you less of a woman, you may feel shame when you experience emotions of anger, and start suppressing such emotions.
However, cultivating kindness and tuning into the truth of who you really are, means that you need to tune into this emotion and entertain it. You need to validate your reality and love every bit of it. Embracing yourself as a whole, regardless of what society tells you to be is a great step towards reclaiming your feminine power.
3. Maintain Your Standards and Set Boundaries
Many of us were taught that as women, we have to make compromises and lower our standards to raise that of men. This means doing chores/tasks that we don’t want to do or going places that we don’t want to go just to be seen as good women. Society told us that we could be women but not “too much women“. We could talk, but not raise our voices, we could be ambitious only to a certain degree. The list goes on.
It is time to kick this faulty belief into the trash where it belongs and stay true to yourself. For how else do you live up to your full potential if you keep suppressing your femininity? It is time to tell yourself that you deserve the things you want in life and that you do not have to make sacrifices and compromise your standards for the sole reason that you are a woman. You can be kind to yourself and say no — by turning down the meeting, saying “No” to the chores/tasks and delegating them to others. And when you say no to the things you don’t want to do, you are saying yes to yourself — your energy, your time and your space.
Femininity is infinite. It is strong and powerful. It isn’t meant to be tamed, rather it exists to be nurtured. It’s time to stand tall and reclaim the power that is within you, to let it shine through wherever life takes you. Do not be held back by fear, doubt or past conditioning. We hope you always remember this.
TMWT is an online media platform spotlighting the stories of Muslim women of the past and present. We aim to be one of the most authoritative and informative guides to what is happening in the world of Muslim women. We hope to cover key issues, spark debates, progressive ideas and provocative topics to get the Muslim world talking. We want to set agendas and explore ideas to improve the lives and wellbeing of Muslim Women.