Ban Bossy

The Good and the Bad of #BanBossy

The #BanBossy campgaign video starts by saying:

“By middle school, girls are less interested in leadership than boys. And that’s because they worry about being called ‘bossy.’”

The problem here is twofold: that girls are called bossy and that they worry about being called bossy.

I’m in favor of campaigning to change the negative view of girls who are leaders, but I believe the #BanBossy campaign is missing something important. There is not enough focus on teaching girls that being called bossy, or anything else derogatory, for expressing their opinions or displaying leadership qualities is a not bad thing, or that the boys – and yes, other girls – who do use these words should be ignored. In other words, the campaign is targeting the wind when it is much easier to help girls adjust their sails.

Assertiveness training is so, so important for girls and women, especially in business. I took a class at NYU as part of my marketing certificate on communication skills for women in marketing and PR (it was called “Be a Powerful Presence” and taught by Raleigh Mayer. I highly recommend it.) and we learned a lot about the differences between the way women and men communicate in the workplace, such as phrasing statements as questions, high intonation at the end of a declarative sentence, and saying “sorry” profusely when it isn’t necessary. Taking a course like this at a younger age would have been hugely helpful for me in my education and career. I’m aware of the Girls Leadership Institute after watching Rachel Simmons’ TED talk and it looks like they do great work. It’s as important to teach girls to lead as it is to teach them not to let the fear of being criticized keep them from raising their hands.

I remember when girls were called bossy in school or during a playdate it was because they were being controlling and unfair towards their more passive classmates or friends. There is a difference between bossing your peers around at recess and being a good leader. Leaders have the interpersonal skills to bring out the best in others. That means giving others their turn to shine.

So, I agree. Let’s spread the message that girls expressing their own voices and being leaders isn’t a bad thing. But let’s also help girls develop the skills to brush off silly comments and grow a thicker skin. It’s difficult to move up the career ladder without one.

Update: I especially like Alexandra Petri’s Washington Post article on #BanBossy, in which she writes: “This is like dealing with the Sleeping Beauty curse by removing all the spindles from the land. The trick is not to remove all the spindles. The trick is to teach you how to handle a spindle safely so that it won’t sting you.”

You don’t have to love me
You don’t even have to like me
But you will respect me
You know why?
Cuz I’m a boss!

-Kelis, “Bossy”

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that awkward moment

#ThatAwkwardMoment… when you hook up with a guy and then have to see him everywhere

When I spotted Jake across the room at a house party I was immediately struck by how bright his blue eyes were. I had never seen anyone like him. I don’t remember how we got to talking or how I wound up on his lap, content making out with him in full view as the party carried on around us. When we decided to leave the party, Jake and I went back to his room and continued our passionate makeout.

Giant fucking mistake.

The rest of the night itself was fine. We fooled around in his bottom bunk. I was a sophomore and he was a freshman. Wasn’t that scandalous? He was sweet to me and showered me with compliments. A few hours later, he walked me home and said he’d call. When my phone never buzzed with a call or text from Jake, I was a little surprised, but whatever. I could deal with a one-time rejection.

The trouble was that within weeks of our hookup, I started seeing Jake everywhere. Our school was small, but I had never met him before that party. Had I somehow just not noticed him before? No. I definitely would have. Those eyes.

Now, he was in the halls between classes. He was at the next table at lunch. He was in line at the bookstore. I started seeing him everywhere I went on or around campus. Every time I saw him, and every time he looked right through me, it was like being rejected repeatedly, another slap in the face.

In the light of day, absent the influence of jungle juice and a backdrop of significantly less desirable options, Jake appeared far less attractive than he had that night. So that was a relief. Except it wasn’t. For all I knew, he felt the same way about me.

What I didn’t learn during my night of passion with Jake (but probably should have guessed based on his amazing body) was that he spent every minute of his free time at our school’s gym, where I worked part-time and worked out a few days a week. When I went in the afternoon, Jake was there. When I went in the early evening, he was there. When I went late at night, there he was again.  I even got stuck driving behind him on my way to the gym on more than one occasion. Here I was, trying to focus on my workout, trying to improve my body, when the guy who had seen me nearly naked was a few feet away lifting dumbbells, purposely acting like I didn’t exist.

It wasn’t that I liked Jake. OK, maybe I had liked him, but I sure as shit didn’t now. I just hated that he had this power over me, that he got to see me walking to class, or at the gym, or eating lunch, and to decide, over and over again, that I somehow wasn’t good enough for him. And the more that happened, the angrier I got.

The following semester, I went to another party at the same house where I met Jake. There were a lot more people there, but I should have known better than to think I could have a night off from our awkward run-ins. They apparently weren’t awkward for him, though. There he was, on the steps, making out with a girl I knew from Spanish class. Awesome.

Two semesters later, I walked into my poli sci class, and, you guessed it: Jake again. I now got to enjoy an entire semester of filing in and out of a classroom while avoiding this dude and feeling self-conscious whenever I answered a question. Fabulous.

Months and months of non-confrontation culminated in the one time we ever spoke since our hookup. Jake stopped by the equipment room at the gym when I was working and checked out a towel. “Hey, what’s up?” he said casually, but not in the way someone who actually would like to know what is up, and not looking me in the eye.

If green steam could have come out of my ears, it would have. What’s up? WHAT’S UP?! I thought furiously. What’s UP is that you never called me! What’s UP is that we have run into each other LITERALLY everywhere and you never once bothered to say hi or even smile and I have felt like COMPLETE SHIT about it. What’s UP is that you’re a DICKHEAD and I’m so glad I didn’t let you fuck me because I would regret it even more than I already do, which is A LOT.

I restrained myself and smiled politely. “Nothing,” I said. “Enjoy your workout.”

being sloane jacobs

So Many Books, So Little Time: My Favorite Reads from 2013

A few years ago I realized that even though I had an apartment with the perfect built-in bookshelf, I had done very little reading since I moved to the city, and I wanted that to change. I made a New Year’s resolution to read more and it’s probably the only resolution I’ve ever kept. I updated my Amazon wishlist, put some books on hold at the library, and voila – a few months later, I had read a bunch of the books from my list. Even though I often feel frustrated because new books are always coming out that I MUST READ IMMEDIATELY and bump the rest of the books on my list further down, I’m always trying to read more each year. Here are some of my favorite books from 2013.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight — This book has been compared to Gone Girl, and rightfully so – the suspense! The carefully unraveling mystery! The horrible high school girls! I remember reading the New York Magazine cover story, A Suicide at Dalton, about the death of Teddy Graubard, which was part of the inspiration for this story. This book was un-put-downable.

The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg — Elizabeth Eulberg has been named a “romantic comedy superstar” and lives up to the title with this book. It’s partly inspired by TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. The main character is the older sister of a pageant princess and it was so interesting to see what life is like from her perspective. I loved this book!

Jessica Darling’s It List #1: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness and Perfection by Megan McCafferty — I can’t think of a better non-millennial way to describe how I felt when I heard about this prequel being published than I LEGIT DIED. Jessica Darling is my favorite literary character of all time. I just feel like she gets me. She understands what it’s like to grow up in the suburbs and I just feel like we see the world the same way. And for reasons I can’t explain, I’m obsessed with middle school, and books about being awkward in middle school, and am especially obsessed with prequels to anything. Lisi Harrison’s Clique Prequel, Kate Brian’s Private Prequel, and Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl prequel were my favorites out of the entire series. I watched a webcast with Megan McCafferty and Lisi Harrison recently and Megan said something that really summed up how I feel about writing for teens (since I have been writing for the teen website Gurl recently): “The core issues of being an adolescent don’t change over time. People ask me all the time…how can you get into the head of a twelve year old. For me, it’s almost like, how do I get out?” 

So yeah. Read this in two days, and only because I had to take breaks to do other things in those two days, like go to work.

Trinkets by Kirsten Smith — I read an excerpt from this book over at Rookie and I knew I would love it. First of all, I love anything that has to do with fashion, even if this book’s connection to fashion is girls who meet in a Shoplifters Anonymous class. That means they’re really into fashion, amirite? This book reminded me a lot of The Breakfast Club: a few misfits thrown together against their will who form unlikely bonds and realize that they aren’t, in fact, so different. I especially liked that the book is written from multiple perspectives, so you can really get into the heads of the different characters.

Pretenders by Lisi Harrison –  This book is also told from multiple perspectives — the diaries of the five most popular freshmen at an uber-competitive high school. The idea of reading someone’s diary is always appealing to me as a long-time keeper of a diary, because it’s the one place people don’t self-censor. I tore through this book and my only complaint is that it ends in a MAJOR cliffhanger and I NEED to know what happens like, yesterday.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple — I had been reading great reviews of this book everywhere and finally picked it up. After her mom, Bernadette, disappears, her teenage daughter has to figure out what led to her disappearance. We try to untangle the mystery of Bernadette’s disappearance through notes and emails. (I always enjoy emails in books, ever since the first book I read in emails, Boy Meets Girl, by Meg Cabot.) The book critiques the high-end/organic/progressive/ridiculous lifestyle of the Seattle elite through Bernadette’s increasing agoraphobia. And as anyone who has ever worked in an office knows, anything that sounds ridiculous in person sounds even more ridiculous in an email, which is why I found this book so entertaining.

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill — This book actually comes out January 7 but I was lucky enough to get an ARC. Fans of The Parent Trap will especially love this book about two girls with the same name who meet and switch places on the way to figure skating and ice hockey camp in Canada. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon each believe the others’ life will be easier, but they may be in for a surprise. Even though the adult in me wants the girls to face their problems head on, I couldn’t help but root for them to keep up the facade of their borrowed identities for as long as possible.
What great books did you read in 2013?

blairserenafrenemies

How I Learned To Deal With My Frenemies

I can’t remember which came first: when I decided that I hated Sage (not her real name) or when she was mean to me. Sage and I were the same age and from the same town. We had gone to the same school since kindergarten, played on the same sports teams, went to the same birthday parties and spent a lot of time together in groups, but had never been close friends. I initially didn’t like her because she wore a permanent scowl and was (unjustifiably, in my opinion) full of herself. We had several mutual friends. I’m not sure what they saw in her that I didn’t.

Read the full article at Gurl.com.