Yesterday Luvvie published a post entitled, “I’m Digging Nicki Minaj Lately and It’s Not For Her Music.” The post was in response to a video from a few years ago where Nicki Minaj – a female rap/pop star – talks about misogyny, sexism, and double standards in hip hop. In this clip, Nicki bluntly shares the frustrations women around the world deal with day to day.
When I am assertive I’m a bitch; when a man is assertive he’s a boss. He bossed up. No negative connotations behind bossed up but lots of negative connotation behind being a bitch… When you’re a girl, you have to be everything. You have to be dope at what you do but you have to be super sweet, and you have to be sexy, and you have to be this and you have to be that and you have to be nice and you have to – it’s like, I can’t be all those things at once.
Say word, my sista! I can’t be all those things at once either, and I shouldn’t have to be. And like Luvvie, I am here for this.
This idea that women get negatively labeled by exhibiting the same tenacity and drive as their male counterparts who receive no such backlash is not new. It’s been addressed over and over in every space imaginable. And yet women are still having to deal with this! It’s still an issue! And don’t be a Black woman who is assertive and commanding because that would make you an angry bitch.
One thing my PhD mentor – a very successful brown (Iranian) female scientist – always emphasized to me the importance of standing my ground (no Florida) as a woman in science. She taught me not to let being labeled a “bitch” to prevent me from demanding respect and my proper due in the male-dominated field that I’m in. I’ve heard senior male administrator from another university refer to my advisor – to me! – as “difficult” and “hard to work with” (in an attempt to persuade me not to work with her) despite having never met her in person. And when I told her this, she simply responded [paraphrased], “I’m a woman who doesn’t take sh*t from men so that makes me difficult.” And from that moment forward I knew I was working with the right woman. She constantly reinforces to young female researcher their need to be assertive in our careers, because “you won’t get anything done being a wuss.” Being labeled negatively never seemed to bother her, like she wore the labels with a badge of honor. As she so eloquently posted on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, “Seriously, strong women are “called” many things but as a wise (male) mentor once told me, who cares what you are called as long as you get what you want.” BOOM. There it is. The truth from another true G. #Gladiator
I respect the hell out of any woman who isn’t afraid to be called a bitch in order to handle business. I respect women who teach younger women to not be afraid to go after what they want and need to succeed, for fear that they will be met with name calling. Many women get paid lower wages because they are afraid to ask for the wage they deserve, or that’s comparable to their male counterparts. I won’t be that woman! I can’t and won’t be super sweet, sexy (Do female scientists need to be sexy? According to one idiot professor, the answer is YES), and nice all the time to avoid being the angry bitch. I won’t dumb down my drive and desire to get ish done to make men (and even women) feel comfortable that I’m in my quiet, docile woman’s place. Back down for what? Angela Davis didn’t do it, Margaret Thatcher didn’t do it, Michelle Obama didn’t do it, Bita Moghaddam (my advisor) didn’t do it. Why should I? Call me what you want, but bet I get what I’m entitled.
How do you feel about the double standard between men and women when it comes to assertiveness? For the ladies – does it bother you to be called a “bitch” for playing the same game as your male counterparts? For the fellas – do you stick up for women who are labeled “bitch” for being assertive?
Bitches Get What They Want,
~Gem, G in Training