Teaching on a college campus, I have witnessed such amazing young women really make an impact. They not only participate in class with interesting comments but they also handle themselves well in presentations even to very senior business leaders. They exude a youthful exuberance coupled with the confidence that they can do anything their passions and their desires take them.
Then they graduate…
Next thing they know they are walking a tightrope. Where once they were encouraged to speak their mind, now others see it as they are being too assertive. Men can get away with saying certain things but once a woman says something with authority, enthusiasm or even a bit of toughness, the “B” word is used. How come we don’t have a “B” word for men?
There is definitely no easy answer. It has been a debate that has been going on for years but it needs to stop right now. Instead we as women, need to embrace our “B”ness. With our super hero cape on, emblazoned with a “B” on our chests, we need to call things the way we see them and charge forth. This includes using more powerful words, pushing back on things we don’t agree with, and watching our inflections and tone of voice.
We need to stop using upspeak. This occurs usually when women are nervous or intimidated. As they speak, their voices tend to rise and they may even end a sentence as if it was a question versus a statement. Never upspeak again!
Another thing women need to do is stop making excuses when things are happening in their lives. If you don’t want to do something, just say no! If you are having a bad day, embrace it and move on. Men do it all the time. Instead women feel the need to explain in detail (ugh!) why they can’t or won’t do something. They sound like guilty children who took a cookie when they weren’t supposed to. You don’t owe most people a reason so stop giving one. Waste of time and energy.
That leads me to mention another thing that is just wrong – worrying. That is the worst time waster ever but women wear it like a badge of honor. Staying up all night because you are worrying about something serves no purpose. If you can do something about what is eating at you at 2 am then get up and deal with it. If not, then handle it at the appropriate time. As Marie Kondo, the professional organizer, tells us to ask ourselves “does it bring me joy?” when trying to decide to get rid of something, ask yourself “does this thing I am worrying about need to be tackled right now?” The answer is most likely “no”.
A valid reason why some women have been described negatively using the “B” word is that they can’t let things go. They get upset or mad about something and they just keep spinning it around in their heads while talking to everyone about it. Their hairdresser, their friends and family and even the dog groomer have heard at ad nauseam about your issue and could write a novel about it. Blech!
So when I suggest you embrace your “B”ness what I want is for you each day to realize that you have the power to be heard. You have the right to say what you want. You have the smarts, acumen, etc. to make an impact. And most importantly you have value, but no one will know that if you don’t show that you can be the right kind of “B”. Be bold, be brazen, be biotchy, be brilliant, and be believable!