I wrote yesterday about my belief that the language used by women and other minorities may be seen by those of higher status as woffly; how the qualifiers that we often put in may be seen as evidence that we are not clear in our thinking or speaking. If that is so, surely the solution is simple: take out the qualifiers, speak directively and assertively. That will stop the accusations of woffle. This might be a solution (if what you are interested in is success, rather than consensus). However, it brings another problem in its wake, which I shall call the Bossy problem.
Earlier in this extended piece I wrote about Heidi and Howard, and how successful women are viewed as less likeable than successful men, despite behaving in exactly the same way. I am afraid that women who speak in the same way that men do will run into exactly this issue, and will be accused of being pushy, gobby, mouthy, aggressive and bossy.
Ah, bossy! You may be aware that Sheryl Sandberg and a number of other high-profile women (including, to her great credit, Beyonce) are on a mission to outlaw that word, on the grounds that it is disproportionately used to put women and young girls down. There has been a lot of discussion about it online: there is an interesting post on the subject here:
If you look up the meaning of the word “bossy”, it is almost entirely pejorative: the definition includes words like overbearing, autocratic, dictatorial, oppressive and severe. (The antonym, interestingly, is given as submissive, a word which is often used of women.) And yet, if you look at it, it should mean just boss-like; pertaining to, connected with, or behaving like a boss.
Hmm. A word meaning pertaining to, connected with, or behaving like a boss, which is used mainly of women and which has a very pejorative cast to it. Interesting, no? My goodness, it’s almost as though women aren’t meant to BE bosses, as though the very idea of a female boss somehow goes against nature and becomes offensive in itself.
My final thoughts on this topic tomorrow