What comes to mind when I say “femininity?” It might be how women have been portrayed throughout time in every kind of media – as a passive energy focused on caring and cultivating.
Now, what do you think of when I say “masculinity?” Maybe now you’re thinking more about energies like aggression and dominance, or the stereotypically masculine behaviors those energies fuel like competitiveness or a lack of emotion. These, too, are all traits that have been assigned to male protagonists in podcasts, films and TV shows since those mediums were invented.
But – and I know you know this but it bears repeating – what you’re seeing on TV, in films, and online isn’t the whole picture; they’re images that have been created by old systems rooted in outdated perceptions.
I hit a wall years ago after finally coming to terms with the fact that, try as I might, I wasn’t able to live up to my society’s standards of “feminine perfection.” A journey of self-discovery ensued that led me to a life-changing practice: the full integration and unabashed embodiment of both the masculine and feminine versions of myself.
I know, it sounds abstract as hell, and sometimes, it feels that way. But it starts with a perspective shift: the realization that femininity and masculinity are two energies that achieve their greatest potential when they work in tandem, intertwined as one.
In our patriarchal world, masculinity is seen as the dominant trait of a successful leader. I was personally taught – through constant actions, messaging, and microaggressions – that feminine energy has no place in boardrooms or C-Suites. It took me damn near a decade to disentangle myself from all of that conditioning and realize that feminine energy is far from a weakness. It’s the opposite: a critical part of what makes a leader strong and powerful in all the right ways. Not the kind of brute strength and insatiable hunger for power that we’re conditioned to associate with leadership.
Dominance and oppression are not leadership, they’re reflections of deep insecurity and trauma. A secure and balanced leader is one who embraces their feminine energy. A secure and balanced leader holds what I consider to be true power – the power of presence, the power of self, and the power of compassion.
And let me be clear: Feminine and masculine energies exist within every human spirit. When a leader, regardless of their gender identity, allows themselves to fully possess their feminine power, the potential for a greater sense of community, connection, collaboration, and creativity unfolds within themselves, their teams, and their work.
I’ve experienced this firsthand. Before launching out on my own in 2017, I’d spent 12 years in Corporate America running from my own feminine energy. I’d been taught by society that the only way to be in charge and make a lasting difference was to dominate, overpower, and oppress. Just look at the men heralded in history books, immortalized by statues, and frozen in time by artistic masterpieces.
But I never had it in me. I felt like a failure, like something was wrong with me because, while I am a powerful presence, I have never wanted to use that power to oppress others. My nature has always been to use my voice, privilege, and strength to protect and nurture my community. And that’s exactly what feminine energy does.
When fully embraced, feminine energy is multifaceted and complex, wielding strength in both its ability to be vulnerable as well as its potential to bring destruction. Just look at the feminine symbols we’ve created across human history: Venus, the goddess of love; Madonna, the mother and life-bringer; and Kali, the Hindu goddess of time, death, and destruction of all evils.
There was always a nagging voice inside of me, but I could never make out what it was trying to say. Until one day during a meditation, I received a clear message: “Be as big as you are.”
It was as if the seas of possibility parted when I heeded that message and stepped into my full feminine power. I realized that by playing by the power dynamics of the patriarchy, success had felt denied to me by the systems put in place by Old-World Capitalism. When I finally refused to keep playing small, I had a major realization. Nothing was wrong with me. Everything was wrong with the system.
In the machine of capitalism, everything and everyone is commodified for the sake of profit. People, their lives and their needs, derive value based on their productive outputs. They are cogs in a great imaginary machine.
To integrate the feminine is to see a person as a whole individual contributor, and to credit the individual as being fundamental to the success of a company. In that world, revenue looks very different. Output is no longer the primary goal. Input through collaboration, transparency, and trust become the true measures of success. And in that world, profitability comes naturally.
Because, as it turns out, profit is not exclusive to toxic capitalism. On the contrary, mindsets meant to limit others can’t help but limit themselves. Studies are already showing hints of what I’m sure will be a much broader realization for us in the near future. For instance, companies whose leadership is made up of at least 30% women experience a 15% increase in profitability.
Companies whose leadership is made up of at least 30% women experience a 15% increase in profitability.Payscale.com
I’ve seen this with my own team, who are highly productive because our nurturing and human-first culture keeps them feeling energized, seen, and fulfilled. I invest in the people I work with by valuing their humanity, understanding that they have a life outside of work, and taking the time to listen to their needs. And because I invest in them, they invest in me.
Feminine leadership creates this naturally symbiotic environment where profit increases because people are dedicated to their work because their places of employment are dedicated to them. And this shift is felt by our clients. An increase in returning customers and higher customer satisfaction are the benefits of clients receiving dedicated attention by a cared-for and fulfilled team.
Feminine leadership is good for business.
Not being afraid to be a feminine leader isn’t only a call to deprogram the toxic ideas the patriarchy and capitalism have ingrained in us. It is also a call to be a better leader. You can make your business more efficient, strengthen your relationships, and become a contender in your industry by embracing your feminine energy. Instead of asking for a seat at the table of capitalism, reclaiming your feminine energy will empower you to build another table.
A note about white supremacy from our CEO and Founder Michelle Khouri
All links provided by Justice in June
Audio was made for this moment. FRQNCY was born for this reason. As a first-generation American Latina, my goal was to be the Trojan horse of patriarchal capitalism (read: white supremacist USA) from inception. But things change. I am not content with being a Trojan horse anymore. That connotes more stealth than I’m willing to embody. Today, I come to you as FRQNCY CEO 2.0 – more lioness than Trojan horse.
After decades of protests and riots, of kneeling and sit-ins, of speaking and preaching, of suing and beseeching have led to minimal progress, I am not willing to stay quiet and wait for the door to open, even if the plan was to infiltrate quietly all along. With a roar that can be heard from miles away and a calm strength that instills cautious respect, I and my team are ready to embody our full power.
As the news cycle quells – leaving the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery to faint away like a cloud of dust kicked up by a car hauling ass in the desert – 13% of the U.S. population is left to deal with the wreckages of their own violent oppression.
I am calling on every podcast and audio production company in the U.S. to join me in publicly issuing action plans with concrete steps for how you (the company as a whole) are using your capitalist superpowers to end the 400-year cycle of oppression, murder, and domination of Black and Indigenous people.
As founders/CEOs/owners/stakeholders/investors, we have the power to redistribute wealth to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) vendors, employees, contractors, and suppliers. We have the power to refuse working with companies and individuals who don’t align with our values. We have the power to refuse participating in panels or events that don’t make an effort to be inclusive or representative.
We have the power. And we have the privilege. It’s time to use our privilege to dismantle white supremacy.
These are the specific actions I and FRQNCY Media commit to:
Action 1: Invest our time and resources in producing a podcast for a frontline organization that is dismantling white supremacy.
Partner with a national organization that has local chapters across the U.S. to fully fund and produce a podcast that furthers the cause of stopping police brutality, ending white supremacy, and dismantling systemic racism.
Action 2: Use our platforms to support anti-racist education and empower Black voices.
Leverage our superpower of sound to amplify Black voices and provide educational audio resources to encourage learning about black history and anti-racism, and facilitate the unlearning of oppressive habits and programming.
Action 3: Prioritize the advancement of human rights over profit by continuing to push our original vision forward.
Our vision has always been and will always be to hire diversely, invest in training and development for women of color, and help to fund original content by BIPOC creators.
This has been the vision for FRQNCY from the beginning. It’s been just over a year and a half since we brought on our first client, and I have experienced firsthand what a challenge it is to change this deeply rooted system. And when I say “system” I’m referring to the close-knit brotherhood that is the patriarchy, systemic racism, and capitalism. A system that, in many ways, goes undetected while cloaking every American in its control. By the time we take our first steps, we are indoctrinated into this system and, either through conscious or subconscious bias, become tasked with upholding its myriad rules and standards; that is, unless we make the decision to wake up and step up.
I face the challenges of doing this every day as a Latina raised in lower-middle class America. I am constantly having to face the choice laid at my feet by an oppressive patriarchal system: either grow your company quickly with talent and tools easily at your disposal or face the reckoning that comes with trying to disrupt the system.
There are times when I and my early stage company must relent. There are times when my arm is twisted so strongly by the system that I have to hold faith in the future of FRQNCY as a multimillion-dollar embodiment of the Next Economy that is living its full vision: a diverse, human-first enterprise that has helped to train an entirely new class of BIPOC producers, editors, and engineers. It’s during those times when I feel helpless and ashamed. When I wish I held more power.
Many of you do hold more power. Many of you are more able than I am to make broader changes and cause further-reaching ripples. It’s time to use that power for good.
It’s time to be as big as you are.