Friday, September 25, 2009

Surrendering Power

One Saturday morning recently, I didn’t make it to Boot Camp so I decided to hit the track for a little jogging/walking combo (because what I do does not qualify as running) on a track near my house. It was the perfect weather for being outside with temperatures in the 70s on a cloudless, sun-filled day.

There was a group of three friends on the track; two women and one man—all in their mid to late 20s. One of the women’s cell phone rang and she fell back behind the other two. Because we were traveling at the same pace, and she was talking loudly I could hear her conversation; she was arguing with a guy, presumably her boyfriend, who had called her late the night before and she didn’t answer the phone because she was sleeping.

The conversation went on as we alternately passed each other on the track. When she first answered the phone she was angry that he had the audacity to question her whereabouts when he’d called so late, but as the conversation wore on, I could hear him wearing her down as her voice changed and she tried to convince him that she was home sleeping, then accepting defeat that she couldn’t. He eventually “let her off the hook” because her voice softened and became inaudible as her face matched the morning sun. She hung up and continued around the track.

For some reason, the conversation bothered me, and I wanted to say something but I was afraid. A conversation with a friend of mine about women giving up our power popped into my head, and I decided to take a risk and say something. When she came around the track again, I was off to the side doing some calisthenics so I stopped her. I told her I overheard her conversation, and that as a forty-something single, woman, I had done plenty of dating and I wanted to share with her something I’d learned. I told her not to surrender her power to a man. I told her if she didn’t want to talk to him because he waited until 11:00 o’clock to call her then that’s the way it should be. I agreed with her right to question why he had waited all day to call her if he wanted to spend time with her. I ended by telling her to decide what her expectations were and to stick to them. She looked at me, smiled and said thank you, and we both went on with our workouts. When she caught up with her girlfriend (the guy had left by then) she must have told her friend that I said something to her because I saw her pointing me out. It was weird for me at first, but I’m glad I did it. It doesn’t matter whether she takes my advice or not; what matters is I saw a sister in need and I reached out, and I felt better for doing so.


  1. Hmmm this is a difficult one to assess. Maybe she kept her power by knowing how to diffuse him, there by building her power base without breaking his perception. Real power lies when the other person believes they are the victor even in defeat…

    If you choose to win all the time, there will never be any compromises. Not giving up any power is the same as not giving up any control which in turns leads to never making a concession. Relationships are two ways and both parties need to be willing to give up some power…

    Our society teaches men (right or wrong) that they have “the power” much to the chagrin of empowered women. Over 70% of Americans believe in God, but many thumb their noses at what he tells Eve at almost the very beginning of the bible. Eve represents women, and God says her desire shall be for her husband and he shall rule over her. Doesn’t sound like too much power there…

    All that to say, I agree that she should stand up for herself whether it’s a man or a woman she has a disagreement with… However, some battles can be seceded to win the war.

  2. Very interesting piece...