A word that hits women to the core. It is a true insult and one that many avoid. In my college public speaking course, the class was challenged to provide a five minute speech in front of the class on the first day. After each student took their turn, the professor remarked the women in the class stood behind the podium or rocked, shifting their weight from side to side. Our professor pointedly stated that women are socialized to physically make oneself small by hiding or shifting their weight to appear less intimidating. I hated hearing this truth that just played out in front of me. I now speak to women who are constantly challenged by fighting against this gender stereotype.
Women are socialized to be kind, gentle, loving, and meek. They learn to say “sorry” when someone bumps into them or when someone interrupts them. Women learn to wait until others are done speaking to share. They are less likely to advocate for a raise at work. They often avoid conflict and can be passive. Don’t be too pretty, too smart, or too assertive. Women make sure to be social, keep the household running, kill it in your career, stay fit, take care of children, pets, or aging parents. WHAT?! I have news for y’all….THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!
(I do not promote or endorse Pantene. I just like the idea displayed in the video.)
Call it out
- First, be aware of your fear or guilt. Whether that is fear is being labeled by yourself or others as a bitch, fat, dumb, bossy, bragging, etc. Acknowledge that fear and validate that fear is likely based in messages that our culture, family, place of work, and social media perpetuate.
- Second, tell it to shut up. Put that fear or guilt in the backseat and be the boss lady that you are. This is a challenge. It may bring up negative thoughts and feelings of inferiority. You can do it!
Make other people uncomfortable.
Live life bravely. If you commit to challenging these fears, other people, particularly men, may become uncomfortable. You do not have to make yourself small to make others feel comfortable. That bears repeating. You do not have to make yourself small to make others feel comfortable.
Let’s do this.
This is easier for some people than others. If you have a hard time, that’s okay. Let’s work in individual counseling to help you learn to combat those self-defeating limiting beliefs.