I have to be honest with you…I’ve been sweating over writing this piece. Setting an intention for our brand in the new year while reflecting on the past year is the post I most look forward to writing all year. This year was a little bit more difficult for me than other years though. I was overwhelmed thinking about how we’re going to top 2016 in the new year and capture for you here the events of what was the fiercest year I have yet to experience in my entire eight years of contributing to the growth of our brand’s fierce woman and feminine identity. What made it even more challenging to write this piece was moreso personal – in the past month, I got married and lost my grandmother, the light of my eye, only two days after my wedding.
Naturally, as most women would do, I reached out to my family and friends for some support. Unnaturally to my business sense though, I missed my deadline for publishing this post. As the spiritual world would have it, I knew the time would serve me well in helping me better understand this great year and use the personal events of the past month to help me put it in to words. Ironically enough, it’s also all coming together on the 30 day yahrzeit (hebrew word for a jewish tradition that specifies designated dates and customs for memorializing the deceased) of my beloved grandmother, the sweetest fierce woman of an angel I’ve ever known.
Prior to the craziness of the past few weeks, I had already identified my inspiration for this post and the intention I wanted to set for 2017 – discovering what it means to be feminine. I just didn’t know how to set the scene; reflecting on my grandmother’s passing brought me some clarity. In 2015, we asked our readers to ask themselves who they wanted to be in the new year; in 2016, we asked them to flex their voices to be that woman. For 2017, we invite you to think about what it means to be feminine and how the word influences you and your actions throughout the year.
According to Google, the word feminine means ‘having qualities or an appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness; lady-like.’ Here are just a few problems with this definition:
- ‘Delicacy’ implies fragility and weakness, two words with strongly negative connotations in our colloquial diction, that associates positive connotations with hyper-masculinity.
- ‘Prettiness’ implies that to partake in the positive connotation of the word ‘feminine’, a woman must be deemed attractive by the other. This also reduces her value to the object of desire in a man’s eyes, denying her identity as a woman.
- ‘Lady-like’ is a patriarchal term in itself, oppressing those who must don the label at the mercy of others, forcing women to conform into a gender role with strict societal behaviors that men and society are comfortable with.
What are these unspecified qualities associated with women and why are they so hard to identify? To assign value to? Why hasn’t anyone listed and made a formal relationship between the words ‘woman’ and other positive qualities? Because our society values physical strength over the emotional? Because power has always been measured by material things? There are so many questions to ask but here’s the big one — why do ‘fierce’ and ‘feminine’ seem like ideological counterparts, instead of two concepts and traits that exist symbiotically?
The fierce woman who taught me what it means to be feminine
In experiencing the beauty of getting married and the sadness of losing my grandmother, I’ve already begun to find my answers in the act of another traditionally feminine trait – being vulnerable. In my personal despair, I started emailing colleagues about my personal sadness, which I usually only reserve for my personal friends. I also asked Komal, the fierce voice behind almost all of our blog posts, for help in writing this post. These were both very difficult things for me to do, especially when in the traditional sense of the word “fierce” that we’ve taken the liberty of redefining here at Maxim, I’m encouraged to be strong and being strong isn’t always associated with sharing emotions, or is it? As a provider of consumer products, I felt selfish sharing my personal woes with the audience I need to service and as Komal’s editor I felt ashamed asking for help on the one piece I’ve traditionally written myself.
The replies I received from both Komal and other colleagues gave me a better understanding of what I think it means to be feminine, which are the exact traits I used to describe my grandma in her memorial speech – “kind, compassionate, caring, selfless and soft.” One of the most interesting experiences I had in coming to this conclusion is how much more thoughtful and sensitive women were than men in their responses to my sharing. The few men I work with whom I opened up to about the passing of my grandmother only replied with simple and sometimes unaffected one-liners and even one time with no response whatsoever.
Perhaps it’s this sympathetic and selfless feminine attitude that made 2016 The Year of the Women-Led Period Start Up, pushed monumental bills in to policy to help de-stigmatize menstruation and eliminate the tampon tax, saw the likes and funding of more menstrual hygiene related charities than we’ve ever seen, and explains why companies with a female founder perform 63% better than those with all-male founding teams.
Our lineup of 2016’s fierce women is a perfect embodiment of these great victories and the fulfillment of our goal for the year – exercising your feminine voice. We celebrate a select handful of fierce women each year, an honor given to those women enriching the lives of others with each breath of their lives. As we move into the new year, we will be redefining the sociocultural acceptance of the term to take back the word ‘feminine.’ At the heart of it, we define femininity as relating to the selfless compassion that drives women, giving them the strength to prioritize others above themselves, to show love without expectation of return, and to nurture others, offering help in whatever way they can.
Funding the feminine way of being
In efforts to tie the two words more closely, a final review of our Fierce Women of 2016 will exemplify how each one has taken her compassion for others and translated it into a movement, with positive ripples of change beyond themselves. Remember, you can support any of our fierce women’s organizations by using the promo code listed in their Fierce Woman feature when buying Maxim products online through our #FierceWomenFunded program! In honor of these great women (and my lateness in completing this post), we’re extending the donation coupon code expiration date to January 5th, 2017 and doubling our donation amount for a total of 20% of your next purchase amount that will be donated to the cause of your choice by Maxim over the next week. And don’t forget, using that same coupon code, you’ll also get 10% off your order!
So hurry and exercise your purchasing power and then scroll down below to learn how you can exercise your feminine voice to win FREE Maxim organic tampons, natural sanitary pads and other great products!
Our feminine, fierce women of the year include:
Chelsea Vonchaz – Creating meaning around a #HappyPeriod for Homeless Women
Donation Coupon Code: HAPPYPERIOD
Gretchen Ki Steidle – “The Mindful Warrior” of Global Grassroots
Donation Coupon Code: GLOBALGR
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf – The Queen of Menstrual Equity
Donation Coupon Code: MEQUITY
Celeste Mergens – Making sure girls’ education isn’t affected by periods.
Donation Coupon Code: DAYSFORGIRLS
Nadya Okamoto – Went from being homeless to servicing the homeless with period pride.
Donation Coupon Code: CAMIONS
Aanchal Bhatia – Empowering patients to take control of their own healthcare.
Donation Coupon Code: AANCHAL
Assemblywoman Linda B Rosenthal – Pushing the bill on women’s health.
Donation Coupon Code: FWLINDA
Erin Switalski – Rallying women’s voices for the earth and themselves.
Donation Coupon Code: FWERIN
As you review the great strength of all of the above fierce women and consider News Year’s Resolutions for yourself, we encourage you to identify the fierce and feminine women in your life; how can you emulate their strength? What values will you dedicate yourself to and what changes will you aim to make? The answers to these questions, we hope, will help you find femininity and ferocity for yourself, and above all, the changes that matter most to you. Find what you are compassionate about and let that selflessness be your strength as you take each step in the new year.
Our last vote in 2016 on our way to being feminine in 2017
In line with 2016’s fulfilled goal and our campaign tradition, we invite you to exercise your feminine voice one last time this year in celebrating our inspiring Fierce Women of 2016 by casting your vote for your favorite fierce woman. In return, you’ll win free Maxim Hygiene products. Take your time to read each of their courageous stories and tell us who you think should be Maxim’s #FierceWomanOfTheYear by casting your vote here.
Also, if you tag @maximhy in a post on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds using the hashtag #FierceWomanOfTheYear , you will get two votes counted towards your choice and a $5.00 Gift Certificate Coupon to our online store.* Just make sure to include the link to your post via the section provided when casting your vote, so we can make sure to give you the double credit and $5.00 coupon.
Two hundred fifty voters (chosen at random) will receive a FREE Maxim Hygiene Cosmetic Accessory Travel Pack just for voting.**
Once we’ve tallied all the votes, fifty voters (chosen at random) for the Fierce Woman with the most votes will receive a $10 Gift Certificate Coupon to our online store.***
*Limited to one entry per unique email and ship to address. To qualify, entries must be submitted by January 5th, 2017 at 6pm EST. Coupon codes will be issued by January 13th, 2017 via the email address provided with your entry.
**Limited to 250 participants only (to be chosen at random from all entries received) and one entry per unique email and ship to address. To qualify, entries must be submitted by January 5th, 2017, 6pm EST. Travel packs will be distributed between January 13th, 2017 via the ship to address provided with your entry.
***Limited to 50 participants only (to be chosen at random from all entries received) and one entry per unique email and ship to address. To qualify, entries must be submitted by January 5th, 2017, 6pm EST. Coupon codes will be issued by January 13th, 2017 via the email address provided with your entry.