Yep. I have heard it many times before and will hear it many times in the future. I’m a bitch. You know what’s funny though? The people who don’t actually think I am are the ones who are on the grind, giving everything they have of themselves to try to get the best for themselves and their family. Those statements are definitely not exclusive to men or women. In general, man or woman, those who love me are those working hard, respectful and conscientious of my time and boundaries, and those who are out there killing it. Those who call me very mean names and have a lot to say about me behind my back are often those who tried to take advantage or hurt me and I simply said no—or are those whom I believed in and they didn’t want to put in the work required. The fact is, if I'm called a bitch because I won't let you use me up and empty out my soul while you walk over the top of me...I'm okay with that, and you should be, too.
Are you “a bitch”, and should you be? What do you stand your ground for? In what areas of your life do you stand up for yourself, others, your dream, your rights even to just be treated as a human? When you look someone in the eyes and tell them that they cannot treat you a certain way, it often is interpreted as you being out of line, dramatic, or perhaps that you’re being emotional.
When you’re in charge of people and stand your ground as “boss”, it often is called being a bitch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even seem to matter if you’re the “boss” over men or women. People often respond differently to male and female authority figures. When you’re running a business, stating the obvious of expecting respect, showing up for work, treating equipment and space with the same respect you would for a male authority figure, all of these things somehow seem “extreme”, and that when you warn them for the hundredth time, you’re taking your stress out on them. Yes, once again, it’s about your emotions and your inability to mentally handle the amount of pressure now on you.
If you are a woman reading this who has a female head coach, if you’re a female head boss lady in any area of life, if you’re a man who’s curious what this article is going to say, then I’m so glad you’re still reading. I’d like to clarify what mental load all women, especially mothers, handle each day. A lot of us work. Inside of our job we’re expected to take care of everyone’s needs in the office along with our own, and we’d better figure out how to do it looking beautiful, put together, and never stressed. If we have a day where we’re just tired, we’ll be accused of taking on too much, not being professional, that we should recognize that women just can’t “have it all”, that we have overstepped our roles (there’s about a million of them that I could list). If we correct you, it must be our time of the month, definitely not because you actually needed correcting or that it was our job.
Then we have at home. Our day begins long before anyone else in the home has gotten up for the day, because their day can’t start until we’ve laid it all out and prepped it for them. Then we walk them through getting themselves ready, then we finally hopefully get to get ourselves pulled together enough to make it through the day (again, looking professional because heaven forbid we look like we’ve had the morning we’ve had). Any phone calls about kids’ or partner’s needs have to be quickly and quietly taken care of without dropping the ball at work or letting anyone know that we’ve even had to deal with them. Eventually, five o’clock hits and we head into the real work. This involves homework, feeding people, covering those last things at work and checking in on e-mails while still somehow taking everyone to sports, looking at that caterpillar they just found, reading all the books, laying out outfits and packing lunches for the next day, oh, and there was a bake sale the next day that the school literally JUST sent home a flier about. Don’t forget that it’s IREAD week and your kids need to get in bed by 8:30 and eat a great breakfast in the morning!
Trust me. The girl boss in your life can handle work issues just fine without getting “emotional”. That’s probably, by far, the easiest part of her life and the area that she might even feel the most proficient at. So, the next time you think that your girl boss is acting like a “bitch”, you might want to ask yourself a few questions:
1) If she were male (then mentally insert a male authority figure in your life and picture them saying the exact same thing to you) would I have questioned, talked back, or flat our reacted like I did?
2) Is she right and actually the only person in my life with the guts (or love me enough) to say that thing to me?
3) If I really look at and think about all she balances, every single day without blinking, was this tiny thing actually something that was “too big” for her to have handled? Really?
Now I want you to reverse some of those questions to ask yourself if you’ve lowered the bar on how you let people treat you:
1) If I were a male in my exact experience level, position, situation, would I have been okay with someone questioning, talking back, or flat out disrespecting me like that? So why do I excuse it now as a female?
2) Why am I about to tell someone this hard truth? Is it necessary to see them better themselves or necessary for them to do their job correctly if I am their boss? Am I saying it in the kindest and most uplifting/encouraging way that I can in order to help them grow, not to tear them down? Is now the right time for this conversation? Okay. I did those things….then I know they didn’t receive it well, but was that about them or about me that they reacted that way to hard truth said in a loving way?
3) Did I react emotionally or was that a logical response to their actions/words?
With the last two questions, I want you to truly stop for a second. If you answered yes to those, and they still responded badly, meanly, or attempted to flip it to make you be an unreasonable or delusional person then I want you to actually physically do the following: Close your eyes and make fists the backs of your hands towards the ground. Take a deep breath in, and as you let it out I want you to open your fists. You aren’t required to take on their issues. You aren’t required to spend the rest of the day, week, etc. carrying around the weight that they just tried to throw on you. We don’t let other people’s actions dictate our own. While that statement means that you don’t respond with something like revenge, it also means that you don’t carry a burden of shame or guilt around (or apologize to them for what was actually a very appropriate time for you to stand firm) simply because someone else told you that you should. It is always important to stop and evaluate honestly if you did the right thing or not when that’s been questioned. But once you have done that and feel like you did, then you have to let those fists full of their own problems, not yours, go….
For all my Girl Bosses out there in the world. Stand behind each other. You aren’t alone, and there are lots of us that are completely behind you and recognize your authority, intelligence, vision, and trust that we’re in your capable hands. As a rule, remember that the odd man out somehow usually ends up being the loudest. So if you’re currently dealing with a loud, resistant person or persons, step back, breathe, and look around to see if they’re the one or two odd men out that are eating up all of your energy. If they are, then remind yourself that 1) you’re not actually a Bitch, you’re probably just a really good boss and they are jealous and have deep seeded issues with women being equal human beings (yes, even if they are themselves, a woman) 2) that they aren’t worth your energy and that you’re empowering their nastiness every time you keep giving them that control. If you take a step back and realize they are not the one or two exceptions, but that, in fact, most people feel that way about you, then you might want to do a little soul searching and figure out if constantly having to deal with the odd man out has hardened you into actually acting like a bitch and less like a boss. It’s never too late to realize that and soften your heart back up to being the mega boss lady you were meant to be, used to be, and will be again.