There was a post in an all female podcaster group that I’m in which is one of the most lovely, supportive facebook communities I’m in for entrepreneurs and creatives where a women asked if we resonate with the term “Sexy Boss”.
Needless to say the response was swift and not particularly positive. People chimed in with comments about how it sounded like bad 70’s porn, that it promoted objectification of women. Here’s my comment:
“I find all versions of Lady Boss, Girl Boss, Sexy Boss etc deeply offensive, diminishing and bad examples for future generations.”
Awkwardly the o/p (original poster) came back a few hours later, posted the link to her website which…yep, you guessed it is all about being a Sexy Boss. She called us, the commenters “mean” and said we “fucking slaughtered” her.
We didn’t. But I feel bad that she took it that way.
I’ve been ranting to my friends for ages about how awful terms like Lady Boss, Girl Boss and yes…Sexy Boss are.
I could go on for ages about why, how it’s anti-feminist, patriarchal, and makes female entrepreneurs sound like little girls playing dress up and whining when they’re not taken seriously.
If you call yourself any of these things, are you actually taking yourself seriously?
I vote no.
Back when Mark Zuckerberg started facebook he was actually still a kid – but did he call himself the #BoyBoss? The Teen-CEO? Nope.
He was the Founder (co-founder? I never finished the movie) of a company with all the trappings and responsibility that goes with it.
I don’t understand why women choose to attach these terms to themselves. Is it a safety net to protect them if things don’t work out?
Is it so their power doesn’t threaten their male colleagues?
Clearly, after this past election, we were reminded that a women so close power clearly triggers the shit out of people. Even my own brother complained to me about the tone of Secretary Clinton’s voice. A criticism I doubt any of us have ever heard about a male political, entrepreneur or public figure.
Women have been fighting for a century for the equal rights to men. They’ve risked everything to be taken seriously and deemed worthy of being more than just the little lady who answers their boss’s phone or the sweet school teacher who works until she’s swooped off to the suburbs.
Announcing your girlhood or sexiness in the same breath as your status as a founder, CEO, creator and entrepreneur feels like we’re going backwards by about 50 years.
It actually hurts me in my soul to hear women talk about themselves that way.
Why do we use gendered terms only when talking about women? Are we still working under the assumption that (straight, white) male-ness is the status quo and anything else requires further explanation?
It seems so.
But this obviously isn’t just limited to the business world.
Recently I was in a bookstore and saw two tween books that made my blood boil. One was called Strong Is the New Pretty and another was about a little girl who like science and so OF COURSE she got picked on and didn’t have a lot of friends as a result. I’m sure both of these books, particularly the former mean well, but they both seem to still be operating under the assumption that 1) girls wanting to be strong as opposed to pretty is some how novel; 2) those things are mutually exclusive; 3) children should be thinking about being pretty in the first place and 4) that being into things like science or math are probably going to get you picked on.
I don’t have kids yet, but it breaks my heart for the girls I babysit for that they’re still being told that to embrace interests like science, math or engineering they’re going to risk having friends. And that pretty and strong can’t go hand in hand.
When the 4 year old I babysit for tells me she wishes she was a boy because “I want to go to work!”, we as the adult women around her are doing something wrong.
We need to start teaching our kids to stand in their power with or without worrying about being pretty or if they’ll lose friends by being into something we think of as a boy’s activity.
Maybe if all the SexyLadyGirl-preneurs of the world put our heads together we can figure out a way.