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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Feminine power, art and entrepreneurship (with thanks to Nicki Minaj and Rihanna)

It’s Wise Wednesdays!

What do Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and an Oxbridge medic have in common? If you've often felt out of place, you may have the explorer gene and like to push boundaries... A song by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna caught my attention recently (Fly). I don’t listen much to pop music, nor follow the media; but sometimes a melody or line resonates so strongly that it’s almost hypnotic. And importantly, it becomes a source of inspiration sustaining motivation and courage. What's your theme tune of the moment? I try and rap like Nicki Minaj about this in the video below.

Visually, the video juxtaposes the feminine, the garish and strange with desolate destruction and this gives the last few seconds of the video their power. The resolution comes with the return of mother nature... In terms of the lyrics, important concepts related to courage are sung: living with uncertainty; fearing the unfamiliar; that success and failure are integral to creation; the importance of moving from surviving to thriving... So why is this a bit of an anthem for me? It's in the overlap between women in art and women in entrepreneurship - both creative and risky businesses! More specifically, four things I identify with: 1) Finding inner-strength in feminine archetypes (and creating new ones if needed) When men need to draw on their inner-strength to face fear and resistance, they can call on the warrior archetype – the male warrior is socially sanctioned. Women on the other hand are having to explore ways of being powerful and feminine, in a post-post-feminist era.

Fatma N’soumer. Leader in the Algerian Resistance. Owning their power and physicality is an age-old battle for women. They remain socially more easily identified with the pure, innocent and nurturing while men continue to claim ownership of their bodies (as this funny animated cartoon on the recent Nice burkini incident portrays). This is why female artists who are not afraid to play with their femininity in new and even provocative ways - like Madonna, even in her most awkward artistic phases - deserve a measure of respect. They help to open cultural spaces for exploration.

What would it mean in the 22nd Century to walk the Earth as a powerful AND feminine woman? Burkini and presidency of a space colony? Politically vocal Earth mother flying solar powered drones?...

And as with all exploration, uncertainty, risk, willingness to take wrong turns are part of the equation.


2) Expressing emotions and needs unapologetically Because societies are still largely patriarchal and/or rooted in a rationalist tradition, the feminine (emotionality; sensitivity; compassionate; nature-oriented) is seen as weak if not threatening. Those who try to integrate their femininity into work are still viewed with suspicion, and the pressure is on women to “masculinise” and repress their emotions. Yet, this is ultimately a source of suffering for both women and men. It is being increasingly recognised that leadership and healthy relationships require contact with our emotional experience and an ability to integrate it into our communication and behaviour. This is at the heart of showing vulnerability and opening space for meaningful connection and peace-making. 3) Pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable for/expected of women As someone with a prized university education and career who is often asked why I have chosen a less stable path and my views on "settling down", I can only refer to the idea of the road less travelled and the need for feminine power to express itself in new ways of work and life that serve a greater purpose, whether with or without family obligations. Women have an important job to do as greed and hatred threaten to consume the planet and our species once and for all. The Dalai Lama, for one, sees that women are naturally more compassionate, and the compassion as essential to moving humanity forward. For example, he advocates for female ministers of defence...He believes that if wars are a fact of life, then it would be better if women were in charge, since we are more likely to empathise with those who suffer during conflicts. 4) Using our bodies for what they are designed for: co-creation As women, we are designed to allow the creative process to unfold through us – expressing an essence that some have called the divine feminine. Some have observed that women in the board room, by virtue of their feminine presence alone and, perhaps, well-timed interjections, can diffuse arguments or at least lead them down a different, more productive track. Future generations of female leaders needs to cherish and cultivate their innate compassion, emotionality and creative abilities in all forms for the sake of humanity! TIPS FOR EXPRESSING FEMININE POWER... 1) Get used to naming and expressing your feelings: learn to do it in a balanced way i.e. with more restraint if you get lost in your emotions; with more spontaneity if you overthink them. This will strengthen your intuition and higher creative powers. 2) Get used to identifying your needs and making requests: we all have needs: sacrificing your needs while you’re screaming or crying inside sets humanity and women back in evolutionary terms. If you are lost in trying to get your basic needs met (e.g. feeling connection) understand that you have the power to meet them alone first. This allows forinterdependence to evolve over dependence or independence. 3) Get used to being visible and imperfect: use your intuition to make decisions. It can be uncomfortable - like having no clothes on - as your ego defence mechanisms are deactivated. If you’re used to showing your masculine side, show your feminine one and vice versa. Some things will get you positive feedback; others will bring you contempt or envy. Noone who has ever walked their unique path has done so without stirring strong emotions in others. There's nothing wrong. You’re just alive. Find role models, archetypes that light you up or create one for yourself! What will you co-create, today? I hope this helps. If you have any reflections to share email me! Until next week. Amina p.s. Facebook group still in gestation. Coming soon.

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