Being ‘bossy’ vs being ‘the Boss’

I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time because it’s something that we spoke about at the She Who Dares Wins conference back in October and its been playing on my mind ever since.

I personally have been called bossy in my life. Granted, it was when I was a little girl and I had big ideas and wanted everyone to cooperate in making them happen but nonetheless the word still stuck. Bossy is a pejorative term. It’s a word that means you’re overstepping the mark and maybe you’re forcing people to do things that they don’t want to do.

Its something usually said to children, right?

Wrong.

Back in 2014, research by Nic Subtirelu (Ph.D. in applied linguistics at Georgia State University) showed that ‘bossy’ is used 1.5x more frequently on Google for women and girls than it is for men and boys. This isn’t just an age thing, this is a gender thing.

Around that time, a campaign to #banbossy was started and it was backed by several big names including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Beyoncé and even former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice! The idea was that girls who are called ‘bossy’ tend to then shy away from speaking up in class or leading team projects.

If I think about it, the word definitely had an influence on my eagerness to take charge when I was younger. In my experience, girls that got called bossy were labelled ‘opinionated’ too, meaning they spoke when they ‘weren’t supposed to’ about things that ‘weren’t their business’. So I never took heed of that warning and I still speak my mind now but I definitely worry about not being heard or that people won’t take me seriously. We already know that social media can be a pretty difficult place when you’re growing up and trying to find your passion in life. But we also know that there are some incredible women leading projects and speaking out about a whole range of things now too.

So what makes a woman ‘the Boss’? I don’t necessarily think it’s people calling her it. I think its demanding respect for what you’re doing and it’s other people taking note that you and your work matters. Regardless of whether you’re fifteen or fifty, being ‘the Boss’ shouldn’t be about gender, it should be about taking charge. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to dominate or oppress anybody, that just means that you shouldn’t be discouraged if people are uncomfortable with your authority in that role.

 

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At She Who Dares Wins, I asked two great women Melissa Rowley and Tamara Sword what they thought the difference was between being ‘bossy’ and being ‘the Boss’ and they told me how they think women are socially penalised in business for asking for more (raises, promotions, leadership etc).  They advised women not to be discouraged from this and said that being ‘the Boss’ is about negotiation and leadership skills that will fight the institutional bias. I was truly inspired by this idea, that the power lies in me to change that!

In every workplace and following every hobby, there’s always going to be people who feel the need to comment on how you do something or ask why you’re doing it. While criticism and reflection can be a good thing, if someone’s just uncomfortable with you taking charge or calling the shots then I think a crucial part of being ‘the Boss’ is not letting that commentary hold you back.

What would you say to a little girl who’s just been called bossy for trying to organise her school project or giving a speech about equality? She could be the next Malala Yousafzai, Stefanie Mainey or Nina Tandon. I think I’d tell her that she’s The Boss and that no-one can stop her from achieving her dreams.

What do you think, is ‘bossy’ a discriminatory term?
What makes someone ‘the Boss’?

 

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.
Jenna
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If you liked this post, you should check out:

Feminist Wishlist – some cute items to help you destroy the patriarchy!
“You Can’t Be A Feminist If…” – genuine advice from a self-identified feminist about what it means nowadays….
the empowerment playlist series – music to make you feel strong and beautiful

 

 

 

Why I Never Really ‘Came Out’

CWs: LGBTQIAP-phobia, threatening behaviour, verbal abuse

 

I’ll be attending my second ever Pride celebration this weekend and so I thought I’d write about a little something that’s quite close to home for me. I tend not to talk openly about my sexuality unless its asked about and unless those questions are respectful and genuine. However when I saw so many of our #queerbloggers  talk about their experiences for this month’s ‘Coming Out’ theme, I thought it was about time I told my story.

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I knew I wasn’t just interested in boys from quite a young age. I would see women on television and think they were beautiful in a way that I didn’t yet fully understand.

As Katherine Hockley said in her piece, ‘00s Music Videos & Their Role In My Bisexual Awakening’, “… it made me feel guilty and “bad”, because it was ingrained in my head that culturally I should only be getting turned on by men. As a kid who was already unpopular and a bit weird, anything else that could make me different could not be a good thing (or so I thought)…

Growing up surrounded by images of sex and heteronormative relationships as many of us do in the Western world, it became quite apparent to me that I had feelings that weren’t so widely represented in the media.

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Me in 2008, out as bisexual and pretty badly bullied…

In my teens (at about fourteen years old) I fell in love with two girls, one after the other. They were close friends of mine but I was completely besotted and wanted more. I still don’t know to this day if they reciprocated those feelings but I remember mine and boy, was I obsessed! When they each told me for different reasons that we would never work out in a relationship, I was so hurt. I couldn’t see the problem with openly expressing my love for them but I think they weren’t quite sure if they could be with me romantically.

My mum knew, but I did affirm her suspicions one day and told her how I felt about those two girls in my life. I was very lucky in that she was really supportive and told me that she loves me no matter who I love, as long as they make me happy.

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Me in 2009

News about my ‘tendencies’ began to spread around the school like wildfire and it wasn’t long before the bullying started. I remember sidling up to the only other ‘out’ person at my school and her and I were in a relationship for about a week but the abuse was just too much.

I was told I was disgusting… I was spat on… I ‘should be shot’… I’m a ‘dyke’… I’m a ‘freak of nature’… 

I was assaulted regularly and there wasn’t a huge amount I felt I could do at the time. A few close friends stuck up for me when they could but often I’d be targeted when I was on my own. Even after being a long term relationship with a cis boy, there was still a lot of homophobia (despite me not identifying as a lesbian) and bi-erasure. I couldn’t understand it – I was comfortable with who I was, why did it bother them? Why did they feel the need to treat me that way and why couldn’t they understand?

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Me in 2010

I still haven’t had an ‘official’ committed relationship with anyone who isn’t a cis man yet but that’s not through any active choices in adulthood. The people that I have developed strong feelings for and stayed in relationships with at this point in my life have been cis men but my feelings for women, non-binary and trans people haven’t gone away. I wrote a piece for Zusterschap a while back about having my queerness erased because I’m in a ‘hetero’ relationship, and how frustrating it is that many people, even those inside the LGBTQIAP community will still deny that I am queer.

They deny me of the support and belonging that I so desperately needed when I was younger.

They deny me of feeling that I can speak or write openly about my identity.

They deny me when they say that I didn’t have to ‘come out’ so I don’t understand the struggle.

 

Many young people are still questioning their sexualities and gender identities and it is so important if you can speak safely and openly about these things to do so. Although it’s improving, accurate media representation for LGBTQIAP people and relationships is still sparse and globally, there are still abuses of people’s basic human rights and freedoms because of their sexuality or gender identity.

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Me now in 2016 – here, queer and not giving a …

A lot of straight people ask me, ‘how can I best be an ally to the LGBTQIAP movement?’  I always say the same thing: ‘being accepting and treating people with fairness and kindness, regardless of their identity’.

It’s also important not to erase someone’s experiences. If they want to tell you about their coming out or any other personal experience then as an ally, you should respectfully listen and try to understand.

 

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Click here to find out more about the Queer Bloggers Network!

 

Finally, amplify queer voices! We have a Queer Bloggers Network now for anyone who makes content in the community or for it. To do more than that you should comment on posts, RT links, share news on Facebook, watch films and vlogs… Get that content out there. The only way that true understanding of one another is reached is through education and respectful discussion.

Hopefully one day, we won’t have to ‘come out’, because we will be seen as people and not for our differences.

 

Do you having a ‘coming out’ story that you’ve shared?
Do consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQIAP community?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.
Jenna
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If you liked this post, you should check out:
‘You Can’t Be A Feminist If…’ – crushing myths about ‘all modern feminists’
my queerness erased – I talk about being in a ‘hetero’ relationship and why I’m still pansexual
drag on a dime series – I copy looks from your favourite drag queens for cheap!

 

“You Can’t Be A Feminist If…”

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Hi guys!

Your friendly neighbourhood queer feminist here, ready to spill some tea on some common misconceptions about what being a feminist in 2016 actually means. Although there are many sub-sets of feminism, I’ll be discussing genuine advice I’ve been given with regards to my beliefs and my behaviour and boy is it something!

 

Please note that this piece is for entertainment purposes and so should be taken with a pinch of salt!

 

#1. “You can’t be a feminist if you wear make-up.”

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So some people believe that makeup is a tool that amplifies ‘beauty ideals’ and that by wearing makeup, you are not only compliant with but promoting a patriarchal standard of beauty. I say that this is bullshit. Make-up is a way in which many people choose to express their creativity. The colours, shades, shapes and techniques can be considered an art form and many choose to study these and/or take makeup as a profession. Make-up (like many things) is not solely a ‘woman’s product’ – people of all genders can enjoy makeup and when this assumption is made, you are ignoring a rich, queer history of drag artists and gender-fluidity.

My makeup makes me feel confident and powerful, ready to take on the world. It is a choice I make for myself that emphasises what I consider to be my best assets and it allows me to be artistic in ways that I can’t normally. If you don’t wear makeup then that’s cool but don’t tell me that I shouldn’t wear mine!

 

#2. “You can’t be a feminist if you’re in a relationship with a cis man.”

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This one is ridiculous. Not only does it further encourage the myth that feminism = misandry but it automatically assumes that you couldn’t love a man simply based on his gender. See something wrong there?

I’m a pansexual woman and it just so happens that the person I’ve chosen to be in a relationship with is a cisgender man. He is also a great LGBTQIAP+ ally who is interested in and educated about intersectional feminism and this is part of why we get on so well. On a personal level, he is respectful, kind and listens to my experiences so to tell me that I’m not feminist for being with him makes no sense.

Don’t tar every man with an ‘anti-equality’ brush, it’s hypocritical.

 

#3. “You can’t be a feminist if you shave/epilate your body hair.”

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So the idea of being pro-bodily autonomy is that your body and what you choose do with it is your own. It means that you believe in bodily integrity – that people’s bodies should not be violated in any way by others because of said autonomy. I know that some feminists believe that removing body hair is another patriarchal beauty ideal and I’ve spoken to many who don’t epilate for that reason. I respect that choice completely and I believe that if you want to be fluffy, you should be proud of it!

I personally feel more comfortable with less body hair, especially as I occasionally suffer from hyperhydrosis. The more body hair I have, the more the sweat clings to my body and despite deodorant, it can be quite smelly. It’s easier to stay fresh the less hair I have and when anyone tells me otherwise, I remind them that its my damn body.

 

#4. “You can’t be a feminist if you care about men’s rights.”

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Part of a comic by Rasenth on tumblr.

 

My definition of feminist is close to that used by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in We Should All Be Feminists:

feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

I however would change ‘the sexes’ to ‘genders’ as I don’t believe that all inequalities are from within in the gender binary. In fact, I don’t believe in the gender binary at all!

To acknowledge men’s rights in your feminism isn’t to deprioritise women’s rights, as long as you  give each their own context and don’t derail the conversation. There are plenty of men who suffer as a result of the kyriarchy, be it because of racism, transphobia, homophobia or poverty. The archaic gender roles that put pressure on men and boys to exert power, exploit those more vulnerable,to be big and to use force ….they’re damaging and dangerous instructions. It is important to speak about these issues if feminism is to achieve true equality but not necessarily to shove them into the same conversation as womens issues.

 

#5. “You can’t be a feminist if you support sex work.”

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Image from qnotes.

This one tends to divide a lot of people so I’m just going to explain why I personally have sex-positive attitudes.

It is incredibly important to promote safe sexual practice. Not just in terms of sexual health but for personal wellbeing and education about consent. Not discussing these topics keeps them taboo and could make it harder for someone who has experienced sexual abuse or violence to speak out about their experiences.

While I do not support a huge portion of the sex industry that globally exploits and traffics women and abuses and violates performers, I am in support of sex workers and pornography and believe firmly in regulation and protection of the related professions. This goes back to the bodily integrity/ bodily autonomy thing because I think that  if someone has chosen sex work despite having alternatives and they are kept safe during their work then you don’t have the right to tell them that they shouldn’t be doing it.

In an interview in Elle magazine camgirl and filmmaker Ashley Vex spoke about making about safe, consensual porn with her studio Four Chambers go and check it out!

 

I appreciate comments, links and questions on this post but any hateful or discriminatory speech will not be approved.
Discussion and debate are welcomed provided it is structured, respectful and does not target individuals.

 

Have you ever been told “you’re not a feminist”?
What does your feminism look like?

 

Jenna
X

 

Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
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If you liked this post, you should check out:

queer bloggers network Jess, Zoe and I are starting a network for bloggers with LGBTQIAP+ identities!
empowerment playlistsMusic to make you feel like you can conquer anything…
my queerness erased
– A personal account of pansexual erasure.
why selfies are inherently feminist – I talk about Lindsay Bottos’ art project about self love and selfies.

Queer Bloggers Network

So the lovely Jess, Zoe and I decided that Twitter needs a space for bloggers and creatives with queer (non-hetero/non-cisgender) identities. A space where we could share and promote content but also offer support and advice to those who may be questioning or having problems with their sexuality or being treated differently because of it.

So we present to you…

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Huzzah! This network will primarily be running through a Twitter page that Jess and I will co-manage but we are of course open to others getting involved if they want to. Please get in touch if you would want to help with the admin side of things.

The aim is, once we’re up and running, to have a weekly chat with different topics or themes and a monthly newsletter that compiles lots of great content from within the community or about LGBTQIAP+ issues.

We will have DMs on and have an email should you wish to contact us privately and we will never breach something said in confidence.

If you’d like to sign up to our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter, please complete the form below!

 

 

Jenna

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Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
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my queerness erased

Content warnings: threatening behaviour, LGBTQIAP-phobia, bi-erasure, pan-erasure

I came out as bisexual at fourteen years old. At home, it was as if nothing had changed. My mum always has and always will be like a best friend. I tell her everything and she has always supported me in what, or who, makes me happy.

At school, however, I experienced the real, bitter tastes of phobia and hatred. Name-calling, physical assaults and threats became an everyday part of my life for a while. I was lucky enough to have friends who were always quick to defend me, but the words still stung and the bullies still managed to find me when I was alone.

As I’ve gotten older, not only have society’s views about the LGBTQIAP community developed, but of course I have become a young woman and as a result now find myself… Continue reading this post at Zusterschap.

inspiring women you should be following: part one

If your dream career lies somewhere in the midst of writing, ranting and promoting social justice as mine does then look no further than this new series of posts. I will be picking some of my favourite inspirational women each month, writing about what they do and where to follow them.

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A post shared by Emerald Pellot (@emeraldgritty) on

Emerald Pellot (@EmeraldGritty)

Emerald is a pop culture writer at LittleThings and the Former Senior Editor of CollegeCandy. Her work has featured in many publications and gives a particularly feminist view of the world of celebrity. Amongst some light-hearted fashion and beauty posts, Emerald has written some deeper and more provocative work discussing race and gender.  Her portfolio can be found here.

Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff)

You may remember Mara Wilson for her childhood roles as Matilda, Natalie (Mrs Doubtfire) and Susan (Miracle on 34th Street). Now a grown woman, Mara writes plays, stories and blogs as well as working a day job at non profit company, Publicolor. In 2014, she produced a stage show called ‘What Are You Afraid Of?’ which focused on helping combat fear and anxiety using resources and expert advice. Her very popular Twitter account is a daily dose of feel-good and feisty soundbites. Oh, and she got in some serious beef with E.L. James (the author of Fifty Shades of Grey) but I’ll let you read up on that here.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (@fazlalizadeh)

An oil painter and illustrator from Brookyln, Tatyana is the creator of a great public art project with an important message about gender-based street harassment, titled Stop Telling Women To Smile. With many women participating, Tatyana has taken STWTS travelling and is working on pieces in numerous cities. Other renowned works of hers include her Mike Brown poster and The Roots Mural in Philadelphia. For her portfolio and more of her other works, visit her personal site.

The theme is "rock n roll glamour"…I accidentally came as a rock n roll spanner

A post shared by Alix Fox (@alixfox) on

Alix Fox (@AlixFox)

A major content warning for nearly everything this lady does as being incredibly Not Safe For Work. Formerly a Front Section Editor at Bizarre magazine, the wonderfully zany Alix is a London journalist, presenter and Durex UK sex educator who writes all sorts about relationships from the PG to the X-rated. Her work has featured in the Telegraph, Men’s Fitness and Comedy Central, she has compered for events like Sexhibition and Club Antichrist and she has a way with words like no other. She’s also lovely in person!

Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia)

Mikki is an intersectional feminist and opinion writer. She is one of the editors at hoodfeminism and writes some fiction on the side with a focus on diversity and representation, including a one shot comic in the Swords of Sorrow universe called ‘Miss Fury and Lady Rawhide’. Her Twitter is a place where many a debate take place. In 2013, she launched the hashtag  #Solidarityisforwhitewomen with the intention of highlighting how race is often dismissed as ‘not a feminist issue’. This then blew up and become a very controversial topic. You dont have to love Mikki’s style of writing but you will definitely learn something reading it.

Who are your inspirations?

Have you read any of these women’s work before?

Let me know in the comments below!

Jenna

x

Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
| Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+ |

If you liked this post, you should check out:
why selfies are inherently feminist – a post about your profile pics and your self love
the empowerment playlists – a series of feel-good playlists
you just keep doing other people – a sex-positive rant from Cami

10 Life Lessons Learnt From Rupaul’s Drag Race

So while I’m struggling to cope with the fact that S7 is now over, and *SPOILER ALERT* the fact that Pearl didn’t win, I thought I’d write a post summing up all of the great motivational stuff that the queens of Rupaul’s Drag Race have already taught me.

WARNING: This is a GIF-and-video heavy post. Also swearing.

1. Ambition is healthy, don’t try to hide it.
If there’s one thing guaranteed from the majority of the queens on RPDR, it’s a bloodthirsty attitude. Whilst it ain’t pretty to constantly be ‘throwing shade’ at your competitors, it’s perfectly normal and encouraged to use that energy to give your best performance.

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Image courtesy of College Candy.

2. Confidence is key – “you better work!”
Throughout the show, many of the queens share stories of rejection and non-acceptance. In a truly inspiring way, this negativity encouraged them not to change or stop doing what they love. Self love is a really important and worthwhile practice.

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Image courtesy of Buzzfeed.

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Image courtesy of Giphy.

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Image courtesy of gayonabudget on tumblr.

3. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Being safe isn’t always going to win you the challenge. Some of the most memorable queens gave performances that were a little out of their comfort zone or completely out of the box! Risks can pay off hugely, and standing out can sometimes be for the right reasons.

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Above images courtesy of homosexual-supervillain on tumblr.

 

4. Don’t be bitter, be better.
Sometimes negativity can come from inside your own community or even your own family. Rather than lashing out, it’s important to keep calm like Jinkx Monsoon and Alaska did and remind yourself that you can be the bigger person.

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Image courtesy of Giphy.

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Image courtesy of untucking on tumblr.

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Image courtesy of Buzzfeed

5. Be a well-rounded individual.
The contestants come from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. Some work with fabric like Violet Chachki, some are comediennes like Bianca Del Rio, some can do a jump split like Kennedy Davenport but they are all talented in their own unique ways. The lesson here is to embrace your many talents and perhaps to work on what you’d like to be better at.

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Image courtesy of gayonabudget on tumblr.

6. Help each other out once in a while.
Okay, so you’re competing for a top prize but that’s no reason to stand by while someone’s struggling. If you need the assistance, pluck up the courage and ask your mentors or colleagues. Just remember that someone is more than likely to ask you to return the favour! For the cutest friendships on the show, check out this LogoTV clip:

7. Family CAN be chosen.
Many of the queens have a Drag Mother, who has taken care of them and taught them things that their biological mother couldn’t have or wouldn’t. Those who perform in clubs often talk about the other performers like sisters or aunts because of how close they are. If your chosen family members are more present and there for you than your relatives, then that isn’t a bad thing.

If your family environment isn’t supportive of who you are and what you do, it’s important to remember that you can always find that network among other people, blood or not.

 

8. Attention to detail is everything
Queens are called out by the judges for a wonky hemline or a false eyelash hanging low because that shows they’re not giving 100% in their work. The same applies to you perhaps for a future employer – first impressions at the interview will be key but so will maintaining a high standard in your work!

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Image courtesy of thewiccan30 on imgur.

9. Pop culture knowledge is cool.
You never know when you’re going to have to play Snatch Game or lip sync for your life.

10. Most importantly…

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Image courtesy of Buzzfeed.

Do you watch Rupaul’s Drag Race?

Who are your favourite queens?

Did I miss any important lessons?

Let me know in the comments below!

Jenna

x

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Credits to Julia Pugachevsky & Jules at Buzzfeed, Ami Angelowicz at The Frisky, Nicole Fallon at Business News DailyMathew Henderson at Drag Official and Emerald Pellot at College Candy.