Sometimes too much power too soon, or the wrong kind of power can be more of a curse than a blessing. We’ve all read about lottery winners ending up broke, or child stars who never recovered from the damage that too much wealth and fame did to them at an impressionable age.
First I should probably explain what I mean by female power. Not all power women wield is female power. Just like men and women both have testosterone and estrogen, each can have both male and female power. Both kinds of power are closely related to the respective gender’s sex appeal, but the two are fundamentally different. A man’s sex appeal is derived primarily from his male power. A [young] woman’s power is derived primarily from her sex appeal. As a result most young boys dream of being smarter, stronger, faster, funnier, and wealthier than other men; most young girls still dream of being prettier, more fashionable, and more popular than other women.
Male power is easy to understand and exercise, but typically takes many years for a man (or woman) to acquire. Female power is strongest when the woman is still very young, and is mostly the result of genetics rather than a long process of self improvement. Female power also is very difficult to spend, even though it can be extremely intoxicating. A comment by Jess on a post at Hooking Up Smart provides a classic example:
One of my friends did some lapdancing work at college. She used to loudly proclaim the benefits of the easy cash and the ego trip of having power over men.
Ego trip indeed. Men want her, and women want to be her. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? But converting this currency into spendable form has never been a sure bet, and has become much more difficult for women to do following the sexual revolution. Jess continues:
But its a slippery slope, she was tempted by a huge cash sum to go one step further and briefly dabbled in prostitution. Somehow she contracted a severe std and she said later it was the greatest regret of her life. I have not seen her for a few years now but she got really stung by the whole scene- I think eventually it jaded her view of men and sex, in addition to the physical symptoms of her infection.
Being rewarded for bad habits early in life typically is absolutely devastating to a person in the long term. Richard Ferri writes in the book All About Asset Allocation that one of the worst things which can happen to an investor is to get lucky early on in the stock market. Maybe they bet on gold or tech stocks going one direction or another and are proven right. They aren’t able to understand that this was simply good fortune because they had an underlying theory which caused them to expect this to happen. These investors typically spend the rest of their investing lives trying in one form or another to relive that initial glory, usually with disastrous results.
Female power at its core is about manipulating those with real power into using that power on the female power holder’s behalf. Sometimes it is fairly out in the open, as can be seen when an especially beautiful woman is treated to something free by a male working at a bar or store. In other cases it is more subtle, where an establishment might provide perks to beautiful women in order to attract men who will ultimately pay their own freight and that of the women. But the more subtle the form of power, the more fragile it tends to be. The gold-diggers at Dating A Banker provide a perfect example in their rant against bottle service:
It was a magical time. Picture the velvet rope scene outside of a XYZ trend-o-rama club. Hear the roar of the bouncer, “Three dudes no ladies? Just go home!” See the line of guys waiting to get in. Now see girls prancing to the front of the line and being ushered in without having to explain to Alex that they were invited to Joe Schmoe’s table.
Behold: Female Power! What could possibly go wrong? Our golddigging friends explain how bottle service shifted the power back to the men who were ultimately footing the bill in either case:
Bottle service changed all that… If you are willing to buy a bottle of grey goose with a 500% markup, then a club is willing – justifiably – to let you in even though you are in violation of the BYOB [Bring Your Own Babe] policy.
Now the men are in the center of the power position, and the women are “dancing in a crowded circle around a solitary table topped with a veritable grey goose totem pole”.
Sometimes the fragility of female power is far more brutal and traumatic, and the switch from feeling powerful to being powerless occurs in an instant. The blogger at No Nonsense Self-Defense explains this in the section Having Power and Losing Control in the context of his larger post on rape.
many young women don’t realize that the power and influence they have over young men is given to them by the men. It exists only AS LONG as the man is willing to listen to her. And, as stated earlier, the reverse also is true. Men only have power over women as long as they grant it to them.
But, many young and inexperienced women assume that the power and control they have over other people comes from within themselves(1). This gives them a false sense of confidence and often a dangerous overestimation of their own abilities. They assume that the power is always going to be there and that with words alone they can control others.
While this can be true as far as it goes, there are many situations where words no longer have power.
He follows this with an example where two men are engaged in a fight and the women in their lives are attempting to exercise power over them in this context. But their normal power over these men is totally ineffective. They are too focused in the fight itself for the women to have any impact on their actions. To the women this can come as a huge shock:
All in all the most common reaction is for the woman to stand in total shock and confusion when her normal influence is temporarily shut off by the male. For that moment in time, she has absolutely NO power or control over him. This sudden and unexpected stripping away of her perceived power and control is as much a complete and overwhelming shock to her as the savagery of the fight itself.
I’m not saying women shouldn’t exercise their female power. On the contrary, I’m arguing that they should exercise it to their maximum advantage. But they also should be aware of both the limits and the fleeting nature of that power and the need to balance this with more traditionally male forms of power. Manipulation is a dangerous habit, but a very difficult one to kick even long after its main effectiveness has worn away. Obviously many women already understand this quite well. Many others wouldn’t be open to learning this even if was explained to them in detail.