4C Purpose:

The Power of the Feminine – A Facilitation

By Robert Hackman

4C Purpose:

The Power of the Feminine – A Facilitation

By Robert Hackman

by admin

Picture by Kathy Hanlon


But a voice got through, caught her by surprise

It said, “Don’t hold us back; we’re the story you tell

And no sooner than spoken, a spell had been broken

Lyric from: “You’re Aging Well”

By Dar Williams

Listening intently to a group of professionals talk about their relationships with the “feminine” on Monday, I was surprised and fascinated to hear how complicated they can be. I quickly volunteered to facilitate the group’s next meeting that Wednesday.

Immediately after taking on the facilitation of a discussion of the “feminine,” I questioned whether it was appropriate for me to do so in a group of 7 women and three men. Especially during the week of International Women’s Day, during National Women’s month.

Despite the feeling, I followed through. I set the meeting structure, provided some content, got out of the way, and listened.  I requested the participants jot down the thoughts, feelings, and stories evoked by each poem after it was read. Only after all four were read aloud were they to share their responses to the collected poems with the group. I believe you will benefit from the simple process and the insights it provided.

The format reminded me of how much I Loved being read to by my mother growing up. And how lucky I was to read aloud to her when she was an adult, during the last few years of her life. A connection to the feminine through a treasured mother/son relationship.

You will find my introductory prompts to each poem below, along with the poems themselves.

The first poem highlights the roles women and femininity play in helping people feel included, safe, collaborate, and have fun together.

Hug O’ War

by Shel Silverstein

I will not play at tug o’ war.

I’d rather play at hug o’ war,

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

And rolls on the rug,

Where everyone kisses,

And everyone grins,

And everyone cuddles,

And everyone wins.

The second poem, written by a teenage woman, speaks to how we experience femininities at different points in our lives. These become part of our identity. In this case, wounds and our responses to them.

False Identity

© Erin

Published: February 2016


I wish that you could see

This scared girl inside of me.

I’m not really as I seem.

I’m not tough, strong, or mean.

That isn’t me.

This isn’t the real me.

I fight by day,

Yet cry at night.

No one can see through

My false identity.

I’ve been hurt,

As you can see,

So I created

A fake me.

No one ever tries

To get through my shield.

All I want to be is me.

How do I show

What I’ve kept hidden for years?

How do I show

All the silent fears?

What would you think

If I showed you me?

What would you say

Without my false identity?

The third poem speaks to context. Regardless of how independent each of us may be, or the degree to which we buy into the prevailing culture or not. Culture impacts each of us. Through family dynamics and the broader society.

What’s the Greatest Lesson a Woman Should Learn?”

by Rupi Kaur

What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn?

That since day one, she’s already had everything

she needs within herself. It’s the world that

convinced her she did not.

The fourth poem speaks to affirming and honoring the nature of women and the “feminine” qualities in each of us, individually, collectively, through generations.


The Feminine Magic That is Us

By Sarah-Sunshine-Manning

We dance in shawls of resilience,

We build nations with our love

Steadily unearthing our power,

And the feminine magic that is us

Our progression of womanhood

Comes, often, through trial and oversight,

As we sometimes dance and glide gracefully,

At other times, stumbling wildly in spotlight

We endure, and we overcome,

Stages of passion and heartache,

Forgiving ourselves, still honoring ourselves,

With enduring, persistent love

From the women of creation stories,

From ancestors, mothers, and grandmothers

From the tender prayers of sisters,

And from the strength within their songs

We learn from the many spirited women around us,

Every single one

We unearth to the power of womanhood

Through the stories of survivors,

Of victors and resilient fighters,

Harvesting inspiration from each story spun

Woven into the womanhood tales of triumph

We draw strength from courage stories

And everlasting feminine love

From every story and every dance

From every well-examined lesson

As generations of women connected,

Enduring strength is what we dress in

By virtue of our femininity

And the generational strength within our bones

We carry medicine in our fingertips,

Tenderness and healing is in our touch

We dance in shawls of resilience

We build nations with our love

Steadily unearthing our power,

And the feminine magic that is us

Sarah Sunshine Manning (Shoshone-Paiute, Chippewa-Cree) is a mother, educator, activist, and advocate for youth. Follow her at @SarahSunshineM.

The inquiry was for group members to consider these different femininities and share the richness of their experiences of them. I encouraged participants to resist attaching to judgments that arose and, instead, focus on honoring women and collective femininities with all of their complexities and contradictions.

I am happy to report a rich, candid, and vulnerable conversation ensued.

I ended the facilitation by reading aloud a short piece provided to me by my daughter for the facilitation in response to my request.

‘We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.” By Kavita Ramdas

I thought this reading spoke universally to men and women, which I found personally to be a perfect way to finish.


  1. Men have essential parts to play in witnessing, honoring, and appreciating the power and experiences of women. It is critical that women have a voice and for others to listen intently to what they have to say.
  2. We do better at all levels when we honor the overlapping intricacies of the femininities and masculinities within each of us. And when we seek to expand the range of both in ways that acknowledge the overwhelming similarities and distinct differences between men and women.
  3. We acknowledged that we operate in a predominantly patriarchal culture. Women feel this acutely. It creates distrust and frustration. We all benefit by opening ourselves to their insights and strength.
  4. Our relationship to femininities and masculinities is much more complicated than we realize and their impact on us remains high.

The relationship we have to our feminine and masculine selves influences how we live our lives, our decisions, words, actions, and inactions, which ultimately creates our legacy, the impact we have on others and the environment, and what we leave behind.

Robert Hackman, Principal, 4C Consulting and Coaching. He provides executive coaching for leadership impact, growth, and development for individuals, teams, and organizations. Committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, he facilitates trusting environments that promote unusually candid conversations. Rob is also passionate about the power of developing Legacy Mindsets and has conducted over 50 Legacy interviews with people to date.

A serious man with a dry sense of humor, who loves absurdity, can often be found hiking rocky elevations or making music playlists. His mixes, including Pandemic Playlists and Music About Men, among others, can be found on Spotify.

Bravely bring your curiosity to a conversation with Rob, schedule via voice or text @ 484.800.2203, or rhackman@4cconsulting.net.