Tag Archives: media

Sandberg’s ‘Ban Bossy’ Campaign Undermines Women

13 Mar

Sheryl Sanberg’s new Lean In campaign, ‘Ban Bossy’ is being backed by many strong female celebrities and organizations that operate for the advancement of women (Girl Scouts)

While I love Sandberg’s tenacity, I simply do not agree with ‘Ban Bossy.’

I think it’s absurd to ban a word that is neither gender specific nor insulting.

My boyfriend and friends would describe me as sassy, independent and bossy. It is true: I enjoy being in control and managing others. However there is a difference between “assertiveness” and “aggression” that the campaign fails to distinguish.

I believe girls are strong willed, and ‘Ban Bossy’ underestimates their ability to be go-getters.

The word “bossy” doesn’t discourage female leadership aspiration, environment does.

I have always been a very motivated girl and so needed to adapt a thick skin. There will always be people who say you’re ugly, stupid, or not good enough, how are these any less of a concern for girls than being called bossy?

Not all girls want to be leader.

‘Ban Bossy’ is biased in promoting that society equates leadership and bossiness.

There are countless ways of leading without being domineering. There are infinite ways of being bossy that don’t involve the intent on wanting to lead.

Furthermore, the idea that all girls want to be leaders is ridiculous. I know many people who function better  as part of a team. ‘Ban Bossy’ doesn’t speak on girls finding their voice to assert themselves and be strong women in a communal setting. No, it shames the more shy and less outspoken, suggesting that every girl should strive to be president.

Why My Cousin Wants A Vinyl Whore, I Mean Bratz Doll for Christmas…

1 Dec

I would say I’m a very tolerant person. I’ve worked in retail and food service industries for years, so I know a little something about tolerance (in the least, how to prevent myself from committing a public murder). Although I’m nowhere near motherhood, I do, on occasion watch my younger cousin while my Aunt goes to school. Now I’m not a big fan of Christmas itself, but I do enjoy the feeling of it, and how it restores my hope in humanity, even if it’s just temporary. So off we went to Target so I could get some decorations for my first year living in my new home with my boyfriend. But of course, it wouldn’t be strategic marketing if you didn’t have to walk passed the toy/electronic department in order to get to the seasonal isles. We were almost there. I could see the lights poking through the artificial trees, and glittered ornaments scintillating against the stained yellow flooring.

I was walking briskly out of excitement when I noticed I didn’t hear a matching set of foot steps. I looked behind me and realized my ten-year old cousin had become hypnotized by a vinyl, butter-faced whore.


“Sadie you scared me,” I said. “Don’t stray.”

“But look! I want this! Call Mom!”

I lifted the box like it was a severed head and just kind of stared at it in awe for a minute. A bobble-headed, scantily dressed, clown-faced thing retaliated with a snobby facial expression. “Ugh, you’re one of them,” I lamented. I really do not like Bratz dolls. I immediately remembered working at a toy store during college. We had gotten a shipment of Bratz, but they were naked, dismembered, and had no faces. Clearly an error on the factory end but still, it looked like a modern day holocaust.

I find Barbie (yes, in all her skewed proportions) a tame alternative to Bratz. For all her care-free hair flipping and high heel wearing, she at least always had a job of some kind. Whether she was working in McDonald’s, being a veterinarian, or training to be a gymnast, she always had professional interests, skills, and hobbies. Bratz, in comparison, look like bitchy teenagers with trust funds, whose only duty to themselves is to detangle their weaves and shop till they drop (or at least the weight distribution of bags outweighs their freakishly large heads and causes them to fall to their death down an escalator).

I think it’s important for young women to realize that when you look good (by your own standards) you feel good. And that confidence in oneself is inherently needed to do well in life. However, I may be digging into these dolls too deep, but my problem is they are too unrealistic for me and I fear they present an unattainable image for girls who are already bombarded with negative media towards body image. Bratz have no personal complexity. Barbie is versatile and constantly evolving. She can be both a princess and a firefighter, getting a spa treatment and learning science. Her many incarnations, which were no doubt a marketing gimmick, still showed girls that the same woman who wanted to be a Olympic swimmer could also be a professional dog groomer or even a doctor — that predilections and hobbies were not confined by persona. Bratz dolls don’t really change much besides their sparkly mini skirt.

While both dolls still depict distorted versions femininity and womanhood, Barbie is now the lesser evil by contemporary standards.

I’m not against getting beautified and slutting it up for a night at the club, but these things should come with age. I’m 23, and able to make decisions with realizing the possible outcomes. My tween cousin? She may find Bratz dolls admirable, but has no real clue as to the damages of being 1. self absorbed 2. dressing too mature for her age 3. adopting a different persona than her own because she thinks it’s what society expects of her.

Anyway, I did buy it for her, but when we got home I showed her how to dress the doll so that she accentuates her personality without being practically naked.

“But I saw a picture on your Facebook where you were wearing a really short skirt and kissing Caitlin. Isn’t she your best friend?”

Oh boy, this is a toughie….it could have been explained more rationally if the Bratz came with a 6-pack of bud light…future marketing campaign?


Slam Poetry! Katie Makkai defines the word, “pretty”

12 Nov

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.

“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.

“How could this happen? You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That’s why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!

“Don’t worry. We’ll get it fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.

But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.

Belly gorged on 2 pints of my blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”

All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”

And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’.”

The Happy Marriage of Genders: What is a Balanced Workplace?

23 Oct

I believe the essence of balance in the workplace is achieved when both masculine and feminine qualities are represented and utilized to a certain degree. This doesn’t necessarily mean however that an even team of 10 men and 10 women is balanced.

A recent Forbes article (Can Women Create Companies Worth Hundreds of Millions?) highlighted the lack of women founders in the start-up world. Data compiled from the last decade and half revealed that only 1.3% of privately held companies had a female founder, 6.5% have a female CEO, and 20% had one or more female C-level executives. 

Tracy DiNunzio, Founder and CEO of Tradesy theorizes why women are so under-represented:

 “Perhaps it’s because investors are (consciously or subconsciously) pattern-matching: betting on the people who look and behave like those they’ve seen succeed before, who are mostly male. As more female CEOs build successful companies with great outcomes, this should change. Making access to capital easier for women founders is part of what inspires and motivates me to win big with Tradesy.”

The problem is only more exacerbated by the media, which tends to focus on the same female success stories (Oprah, Sara Blakely, etc.). This not only limits the number of role models young women have to look up to, but also diminishes the perceived number of accomplished women entrepreneurs.

Contributing editor John Greathouse believes women can “level the playing field by solving their customers’ problems within the bounds of the resources available to them.”

Although I agree with Greathouse’s article, which pushes for more female investors, I think the reason men exceed in entrepreneurial pursuits lies whether we like it or not in the differences between men’s and women’s professional attributes.

These are NOT gender stereotypes, but behavioral observations supported by research. Women tend to excel in some areas and men excel in others. While today’s business culture more often associates masculine attributes with success, there’s no evidence to suggest that hiring more men or more women will drive a company’s bottom line.


  • They’re early adopters of technology. The Accenture study found that men were more likely to be early adopters of technology and tended to rely on technology more than their female counterparts.
  • They’ll ask for what they want. Men demonstrate strengths in negotiation. In 2003, a study looking at students graduating from Carnegie Melon with master’s degrees and found that the male students attained salaries 7.6 percent higher than their female counterparts, thanks to negotiation. More than half of the male students negotiated higher salaries, while only 7 percent of female students did so. Other research by Accenture shows that only 45 percent of women would be willing to ask for a raise, compared to 61 percent of men.
  • When in doubt, they’ll ‘wing it.’ “Males tend to convey more confidence than women in performance-oriented settings,” writes George Washington University law professor Charles Craver in an essay titled The Impact of Gender on Bargaining Interactions, based on experiences in his classroom. “Even when minimally prepared, men believe they can ‘wing it’ and get through successfully. On the other hand, no matter how thoroughly prepared women are, they tend to feel unprepared.” 
  • They make friends in high places. Men score more promotions than women, and that may be explained by who they mingle with in the office. Among participants of a 2008 Catalyst survey on mentorship, 72 percent of men received promotions by 2010 compared to 65 percent of women. According to a Harvard Business Review paper, Why Men Still Get More Promotions than Women, this is because men are more likely to be mentored by senior executives, whereas women are more likely to have junior-level mentors. This difference is an issue of access. Sociology researchers Lisa Torres and Matt L. Huffman found in a 2002 study that both men and women build social networks comprised of people of the same gender. As upper management still tends to be male dominated, this places men in a better position to receive promotions from their mentors.


  • They’re honest, hard workers. As women ask for more to do, they are likely to work longer hours than their male counterparts. Polls by career site theFit showed that 54 percent of women worked 9 to 11 hour days compared to 41 percent of men. Women more than men also expressed a willingness to do some work on vacation, and were less likely to spend their sick days “playing hooky, taking a mental health day, suffering from a hangover, or interviewing for another job.
  • They like a challenge. A 2009 international study by Accenture found that 70 percent of businesswomen asked their bosses for new challenges at work, compared to less than half of businessmen polled.
  • They’re persuasive. Women leaders scored significantly higher than male leaders in persuasiveness and assertiveness, according to the Caliper study. They were able to “read situations accurately and take information from all sides,” write the authors. “This willingness to see all sides of a situation enhanced their persuasive ability.”
  • They’re team players. A 2005 study on gender bias by New York research group Catalyst found that women leaders are typically judged as more supportive and rewarding, whereas men are judged better at behaviors such as delegating and managing  up. In another 2005 study by Caliper, a professional services consulting company, women demonstrated higher levels of compassion and team-building skills.

So when questioning why women are undermined by men in professional settings, it should be noted that more often than women, men demonstrate the abilities of an entrepreneur. This is not to say that women should be discounted, or the lack of women CEOs exists solely because investors rely on pattern matching. I would love to see more women at the top. But just because they aren’t there doesn’t mean they are less able. Women have an equal ability for success, and gender diversity is not simply a numbers game; It’s about ability to understand the different strengths individuals bring to the table. I’m not telling you to hang up your power suit. If most men are better leaders than women by nature, then let them be. I think society over thinks gender inequality too much in some cases. Businesses are all about results, and I don’t think investors care about gender as much as they do about their money.