Written by Christina Kanu (@MissKanu)
I am going to go ahead and get this out of the way. Bitch. There I said it. Now we can down to the nitty gritty of what I want to write about.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine not too long ago. He told me that during my time as NPHC President when I was in undergrad that I was often referred to as a “bitch” by his fraternity. I laughed. I told him I was not offended. That was not the first time I heard that term associated with my name. He explained that although at times they thought I was a “bitch” they also felt that I was on top of my game and got stuff done. Interesting.
As a leadership expert, I enjoy studying various components of leadership. One of my favorite components is the way people describe leaders.
The reason why I laughed when my friend shared this with me is because I am not the only one. I often hear women who are in leadership roles referred to as a bitch. The statements usually go like this “OMG she is such a bitch” “Who does that bitch think she is” “Why is she acting so bitchy” “Just because she is (insert leadership role) does not mean she can be a bitch” “I can’t stand that bitch” “Here this bitch goes” and the list goes on and on and on.
Why do we do that? Why is it necessary to demean a woman who takes ownership in what she does?
Women leaders who are referred to as a bitch typically have the following character traits.
- Hard Working
- Strong Willed
I know a lot of men who are in leadership roles with traits like these. However, I do not ever hear anyone referring to them as a “bitch”.
Why do we accept a man being bold, outspoken, hard working, and confident but a woman is a bitch if she displays those traits?
In the words of the great Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls you can have ambition but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man”.
There is something about a woman in charge that threatens people. It makes people feel very uncomfortable. We are used to walking into a meeting and seeing a man in charge. It is easier for another man to have respect for another man who happens to be his boss or superior. However, if it is a woman her boldness is mistaken for her being bitchy.
Is there a way to fix this problem? Or is this something that bold women who are in leadership roles will have to deal with? I wish I had a definite answer to this question. I believe that over time as we become more accumulated to seeing women in high ranking roles then it will become the norm and calling a woman leader a bitch will phase out. It is offensive, unnecessary, and disrespectful to refer to a woman as a bitch because she happens to be the top of the food chain.
To all my ladies who have ever been called a bitch because you are leader the next paragraph is for you.
Do not be so easily affected by the words of other people. People are ALWAYS going to talk and if you are doing something right then they will keep talking. Seldom do people appreciate a Boss Lady. This is the reason why so many people lose their leadership zeal. I am here to tell you that the higher you go in leadership and the more awards you receive the more people will chastise you. That does not mean you call it quits and stop. That means that you tune people out and keep chasing your dreams, desires, and goals. The world does not have time for you to waste effort and energy crying because someone called you a bitch. If you are a boss lady more than likely you have meetings, conference calls, emails to send, and agendas to plan. Leave the small talk to those who have enough time to assess who you are.
As I conclude, I want to leave you with song lyrics from Christina Aguilera,
“So what am I not supposed to have an opinion?
Should I be quiet just because I’m a woman?
Call me a bitch cause I speak what’s on my mind
Guess it’s easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled”
Do not EVER lose your voice, your leadership, your talent, and your gift because someone called you a Bitch. Keep Pressing. Keep Advancing. And Keep Progressing.