Recently I have found myself a part of two online conversations with women (and in particular women business owners) about the use of the word ‘expert.’
They contained threads of questions and answers such as – ‘When is it ever acceptable to call yourself an expert?’ ‘I don’t feel comfortable with using that word to describe myself.’ ‘It signifies that someone is above or better than someone else.’ ‘That’s not me.’ ‘I would be worried about calling myself that.’ ‘People use it when they aren’t one.’ ‘What does it mean if you have more to learn?’
And while maybe I should not of been – I was shocked. Shocked that so many women seemed to not just be opposed, but vehemently opposed, to both using it when speaking of themselves and not being ok with other women using it either. Contributors in both conversations included women who had PHD’s, were published authors, had run successful businesses for years, spoken at international conferences and had been extensively featured in the media.
This is the dictionary definition of the word expert: “A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.”
And so given how I describe many if not all, of these women above, they were by the core definition absolutely experts in at least one area of their life, if not more. And it left me with so many questions, most of which started with why. Why would so many brilliant, talented, extraordinary women deny calling themselves something that they actually are. And when I say are – I mean irrefutably are – according to the precise definition of the word expert.
Only they will know of course, but to me I see this as a systemic women’s issue of much larger proportions, because while I know a generalisation, I don’t see men having the same concerns about claiming themselves to be an expert in anything. This is something that I primarily see women do to themselves and to other women as well. And while I very much know that none of us likes to see anyone claim that they are something they are not (especially in the process of trying to market themselves or sell something to someone) this is not about that. It’s about women dulling their light and their true abilities when we as a gender and a world so desperately need them – need us – to do the exact opposite.
For hundreds of years, women have been living within a patriarchal world that constantly sends messages in all areas of their life that they are secondary and less than men. Equal pay for equal work is still not a reality. Women’s health and rights, still in this modern era, are in desperate need of more funding and focus. Women in political leadership positions are woefully under-represented here in Australia, and globally in most Western countries. 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, mostly by an intimate partner.
All of these issues influence us as women to dumb down and dull down.
Who are we to say we are ‘knowledgeable about’ something? We are we to say we are ‘skilful in a particular area?’
The nerve. The cheek. The brassiness. The hide.
Goddess forbid if we should stake a claim. Show our prowess. Let our pride be known.
Let alone actually say we are knowledgeable, skilful and have expertise in something. Even if we have a degree in it. Have been working with or in it for years or decades. Have written a book about it. Consult with people on it. Are called upon to speak about it. Goddess forbid.
The healing of our gender where all women can truly see themselves as whole, magnificent, glorious, gifted and made in the eyes of Goddesses past begins with us as individuals.
It begins with us not being afraid to step forth and truly say we who are and what we stand for. It begins with us proudly cloaking ourselves in the expert status that truly is ours as women, mothers, educators, writers, healers, coaches – anything at all that we know we have sound knowledge and skill in. And it begins with us letting go for ourselves and other women any small, outdated or ridiculous notion that calling ourselves an expert in anything means we are better than anyone else, or that somehow it means we are closed off from being open to learning more about it, or that we ‘know it all.’ That thinking is nothing more than an attempt to belittle ourselves (and other women) and deny the reality of who we really are when we are at our strongest and best.
If it is one thing that the rising of the Divine Feminine in the world right now is holding us too it surely must be that women are truly powerful, and their feminine gifts and qualities are needed right now more than ever before. She is calling us to honour all parts of ourselves that are dark and need love and healing. And she is calling us to also honour all parts of ourselves that are light, transcendent and gloriously rich, abundant and flowing.
She is calling us to shine. To not be small, or little, or less than what we truly are.
Claim your expert status. Own your gifts. Spread your work. Honour your talents. Let your light shine.
Do it for yourself. And reach a hand out to help turn on the light for every other sister trying to do it as well.