A woman who is dedicated, assertive, tough, or persuasive = a woman who is bossy, pushy, shrill, or bitchy.
I've been the recipient of this kind of thinking, but I must confess I've been the purveyor of this sentiment as well. The Ban Bossy movement that has come about this week thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, Condoleeza Rice, and Ana Marie Chavez, is one of my favorite things in a long time. LOVE IT!
It's something that women, in addition to not earning equal pay for equal work in this country, have to deal with. It's something that I deal with. It's also something that has been on my mind for a while. I won't even start on the situation here in Texas, but I will say that I find it hard to stomach the fact that the Republican candidate for Governor, Greg Abbott, does not appear to support the Texas Equal Pay Act.
But sometimes, you see things, that give you a glimmer of hope that times may be changing. I saw this tweet by Addisu Demissie back in January and retweeted it. This is a man that gets it...
It's a pervasive problem. Here is how it affected me last week during ONE DAY:
I had to chew out a client pretty good on the phone (for his own benefit, not mine), and I have no doubt that "what a bitch" ran through his mind about a hundred times. That's what his attitude said anyway. If I was a male attorney, I guarantee he would have seen me as no-nonsense.
Another attorney stopped my law partner Jennifer and me at the courthouse and asked if we had heard from a former client. We said no, and asked why. I guess he had gotten himself in more trouble and went to see a new attorney because "we hadn't done a good job for him". The other attorney looked at what we did for him, which for the record was get two cases dismissed and get him deferred adjudication probation with very lenient terms on the other cases where the police involved were insisting on prison time. He said he yelled at him and told him he was out of his freaking mind to think we didn't do a good job, and that he wasn't going to stand by and let him bad mouth us when we did an amazing job. I also think he told him to get the heck out of his office.
After we walked away, in addition to being wicked pissed, we also discussed that it must be nice to be a man so that we could read someone the riot act like that and not be perceived as a bitch.
It's a persistent problem. It plagues professional women. But most importantly, we seem to continue to poison the minds of our youth in this country to believe the stereotype. Young girls should not be cautioned against being bossy, while the boys are congratulated for being leaders. It has to stop.
I'm so thankful for this movement, if for nothing else, it starts the conversation. This article in Time outlines 16 Female Leaders who have had to overcome the "Bossy" stereotype, and this commercial is a pretty great conversation starter too...
So I encourage you to BAN BOSSY! Females in my generation may always be perceived as those negative words that I've mentioned, but I sure hope that the kids growing up today won't have to endure this.