Dumb rhetorical(ish) question. In our current cultural climate, is it cool to strive for forthright femininity AND a Nietzschean-level of achievement?
Hey! Why not.
But is it realistic? Can we dodge the qualifiers, judgements, contingencies? (You know the answer to that.)
“Lady Boss.” That term makes me wanna bash my head with a rusty shovel. Not only does it demote women to a subcategory of bosshood which is lesser than its root, but it often unwittingly ascribes traditional feminine characteristics to the job of bosshood.
I guess in a practical sense this isn’t a tragedy. Many of those qualities are helpful for people in management positions. And you know, I have maternal instincts and empathy and all that. I will happily bake you cupcakes. I also like mascara and manicures and shoes that click when I walk. But if I decide to not act like your mommy-wife, I’m not a shitty boss. I’m a regular one.
Slate’s The Wavespodcast unpacked “Lady Boss” as a concept a few weeks ago. I dropped a little audio excerpt of it here (95 seconds) because I’m like, goddamn it.
TRANSCRIPT OF MY FAVORITE EXCHANGE...
…um… the “Boss Lady” is totally in command of her emotions, and she’s better than you at everything and she’s not apologizing for it, she’s not feeling bad about being… you know sort of leaving anyone in her wake, she’s, she’s not… um… she doesn’t need to read like management guides… ah… on like, how to, you know how to get a raise at work, she was—
Right, she might write one—
She writes them, yeah exactly—
Exactly. Is that, do you think that’s a fair assessment of the “Boss Lady?”
Ughk. I hate women. I don’t wanna be a woman anymore.
Is it possible to be born with teen angst? And when does it go away? Seriously. ‘Cause I’m still waiting.
I mean there’s a lot to be angry about right now, and sometimes I will discover a new pocket of rage that lives in my body and be like, oh, you aren’t mine, you belong to all the women who were sexually abused and are unable to talk about it, and then I feel ok rutting around in there until I have a enough of a grasp to yank it out and set it on fire and scream, “Everyone to go look at that fucking fire!”
Stuff like that.
But this morning… I dunno. I’ve been taking thyroid meds since I had my son ’cause sometimes the ol’ hormones don’t snap back. You’re supposed to wake up every morning and take one first thing, then wait 30-60 min before you eat. This morning I got so angry and righteous about it. “Fuck YOU, asshole, I’m not waiting!” And I took my pill with some cold coffee and shoved three sprouted grain mini-muffins into my face.
Like, who wakes up and gets angry at medicine? I wasn’t even hungry! I was just pissed that someone was telling me what to do before I even got out of bed.
And anyway, fuck who? Who am I fucking here, besides myself? The pharmaceutical companies for not making pills that can be taken with food? My kid for messing up my hormones when he came out? The Universe for giving women’s bodies the power to produce life and then punishing them for it at every turn?
It feels like the kind of hair-trigger rage that is typical in teenagers, in that it immediately becomes global without provocation. Like when your parents give you a curfew and your older sibling doesn’t get one, and you feel the Grand Inequity of it like a boulder in your heart– which, along with your cystic acne and the bitch at lunch who makes fun of your clothes and your choir director who gave you a shitty part in Guys And Dolls, acts as solid confirmation that the world is like, SO UNFAIR.
The entire world.
I remember as a kid feeling so distraught whenever I didn’t feel fairly treated. Adult Me can imagine Baby Me writhing around my crib at night thinking “Why am I behind bars here? I haven’t committed any crimes. I’m three months old!”
And as an adult, I can get propulsively furious at pretty much anything. At my fitness tracker for telling me I didn’t hit my goals for the day. At the lap desk I bought from Amazon that fell apart after a week. At my “Stand Up!” iPhone app for telling me to stand up. Never mind that I set my own fitness goals, bought myself the cheapest desk, and programmed the app to ding every hour.
I get angry about real things too, like social injustice and the environment and endemic misogyny and my own privilege. Especially that last one. I’ll get angry at getting angry. “The hell are you whining about, you dumb baby? Go on, pretend you aren’t lucky to have a crib with bars and a house with a roof and sprouted grain muffins when you’re hungry.”
Obviously the world is not a “fair” place. But not because I have to take medication without food. It’s because of human greed / people with enlarged amygdalae controlling shit / the way we inherit abuse / normative economics / systemic racism / Choose Your Own Grand Inequity.
And it’s easy to get pissed at the carpet for tripping you. It’s harder to fix the carpet so no one else will trip. For me, the dilemma is this: I whiplash endlessly between “fuck you, carpet” and “fuck me, I tried to fix the carpet but people are still tripping.”
Maybe the carpet isn’t fixable?
Maybe that’s not a reason to stop trying?
Maybe righteous anger is a pre-disposition that is not always circumstantial?
Or… maybe if I dragged every pocket of rage out of my body and set them all on fire at once, women would stop getting assaulted?