Ban Bossy

One program I found really interesting is something called the Ban Bossy campaign. The program’s main purpose is to get people to stop using the word “bossy” when talking about girls in leadership positions, because it takes away their ambition to rise to the top. This program is endorsed by celebrities like Beyonce, Jane Lynch, and Jennifer Garner and sponsored by people like Sheryl Sandberg and organizations like Girl Scouts. For more information on what this campaign does, click here.

For those of you who have read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, feel free to share your insights on what you think of this post (I shamefully admit that I have not gotten time to read it yet. It’s on my Thanksgiving break reading list, right after I finish the seventh Harry Potter). Anyways, I think programs like this – though they are undoubtedly not taken as seriously as they should be – are really important for those young girls who want to be leaders but are scared to put themselves out there. It isn’t uncommon for a man who is in charge, no matter how tough he is, to be respected and admired for it. However, when a woman steps into similar position, refusing to put up with unsatisfactory work, people usually describe her as “bossy” or “bitchy.” Furthermore, girls throughout childhood are continuously exposed to this stereotype and are always cautioned by their peers, parents, and teachers to not be aggressive or else they will suffer the humiliation of being disliked by their classmates. Girls are constantly judged for a variety of reasons, and the fear of getting shot down when trying to take the lead on some type of project just brings their self esteem down even more. I can definitely say from personal experience, that if I hadn’t been so afraid of failure – of being made fun of for telling people what to do, of not being taken seriously just because I’m a girl – maybe I would have made more of myself than I have by now. Although I can’t go back and change the past, I know one way to make sure less girls feel the way I did growing up, and this is by encouraging them to really push themselves to their highest potential.



One of the things I really like about social media is that it gives people  the opportunity to share their opinions on different topics. This past spring, the hashtag #yesallwomen started trending on Twitter, for users to share stories about misogyny and unfair treatmeIMG_7476nt that they have experienced or witnessed in their lives. Looking through my timeline, I was really interested in some of the stories, articles, and facts people all across the world shared. I took the liberty of stalking my twitter retweets from a couple months ago, so I could show you all some of the things I found interesting! Some of my hastily taken screenshots are displayed below.







However, what really made this hashtag catch my attention wasn’t the amount of support people were showing for it; it was the amount of hate it was getting, from guys and girls. Plenty of guys took the opportunity to ridicule the hashtag, as if gender inequality isn’t even a problem. One of the tweets I found easily said something along the lines of “feminists be like ‘the post office is so sexist, why do we need MAIL to communicate #YesAllWomen’ smh.” Okay first of all, this tweet was posted on October 17th, months after #YesAllWomen became a prevalent topic of discussion. The fact that someone took the time out of their day to make a poorly-crafted, unoriginal, joke out of a topic like this, clearly shows how desperate for attention they are, because they know it will rile people up. Unfortunately though, @ThoughtOverThot (the twitter handle of our witty, anti-feminist friend) is among one of the many people who don’t take feminism as seriously as they should. When this hashtag first started trending, one of my girl friends made a comment about it, remarking about how “all these #yesallwomen tweets were giving her cancer.” Now, I don’t know what prompted this friend of mine to say such a stupid thing, but chances are it was to impress her older, domineering and close minded boyfriend.

Here lies the problem. Not only do many teenage guys ridicule the topic of feminism – either because they want to maintain their positions of power, they don’t understand how terrible the double standard is, or because they’re ignorant enough to think it isn’t a big deal – but girls follow suit. Why would a girl trivialize a cause that is intended to help her, you may ask? My guess is so she can impress guys and make them like her because she “agrees” with their opinions. I was in high school not so long ago, I know the lengths to which a girl would go in order to catch the attention of her male counterparts. The truth of the matter is that feminism is a multifaceted issue and the lack of cooperation of all females to band together to support this issue is just one of them many problems associated with it.

So I’ll leave you with this, my fellow CAS 137H friends. Think back to times where someone you know has made jokes or comments like this. What did you do about the situation? Did you laugh along, say nothing, or correct the person? I’m not saying the way to solve this issue is to yell at people and spout rape statistics every time someone makes a joke about feminism. However, firmly informing people that their jokes are in poor taste and explaining why they aren’t funny may be a good way to start.

Finally, a post where I’m not complaining about my life!

I have realized that the majority of my posts on this blog are me complaining about how much it sucks to be female in a male-dominated society. Even though this does get on my nerves at times, I know the rights I have here in America are so much better than what I would have in most other countries.

When I visited home this weekend, I showed my parents my blog, and they had a lot of interesting remarks to make about it. Specifically, my dad spent a lot of time elaborating on why a country like India treats women as poorly as they do. He made a lot of good points that I’d like to elaborate on further. So brace yourself, fellow classmates, here’s a post where I give you all some real, hard knowledge, instead of bitching for 900 words.

In India, unlike most South Asian countries, women legally have the same rights as men. They’re free to go out in public by themselves, drive cars, work, smoke and drink, and do basically everything else men are allowed to do. However, very few women actually end up  doing these things because of the social stigmas put in place. The reason India is so lacking on these social rights for women is because of the immense poverty and lack of education. These men, the ones who commit all these terrible attacks against women, are for the most part, uneducated. They live in shacks or on the streets and their main concerns are finding food, water, and places to sleep, not how to respect women. They are focused more on fulfilling their own needs instead of how their actions affect other people. This behavior reminded me of a theory I learned last year in AP Psychology called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s whole theory basically states that an individual does not care about fulfilling their higher needs until their most basic needs are met. For example, most teenagers in America are usually in the need for love and belonging stage of the hierarchy. This is because most teenagers have their safety and physiological needs met. Their families provide them

maslowshelter, safety, food, and water, so as a result, they are able to focus on their more abstract needs, like being accepted by their friends and classmates. This is not the case in the poverty stricken parts of India. Most sex offenders are caught between the first and second stages of the pyramid – fulfilling their own needs to stay alive. What these men do to innocent women is certainly not acceptable by any means, but it makes more sense knowing that there is a reason they act this way.

So what can people do to improve the rights of women in countries like India? Eliminate poverty and improve education seem to be the obvious answers. Most of the problems these third world countries face are directly linked to poverty and lack of education. Although there have been plenty of programs implemented to solve these issues, the only way they will really be resolved is if the Indian government takes the initiative to create change.

Star Power: a representation of men get to be greedy and women have to deal with it

Currently, I’m taking a class here at Penn State called Leadership Jumpstart. The course isn’t in a traditional classroom setting – we meet only one Saturday a month. A lot of our Saturday meetings are devoted to presentations, guest speakers, and activities that teach us valuable lessons about being leaders. One activity we participated in this past Saturday that really stood out to me was a game called Star Power. Now, the main purpose of the game was to teach us the privileges and disadvantages people of different socioeconomic classes face, but what I noticed the most throughout this entire lesson was the polarization of the two genders throughout the majority of the game.

For those of you who don’t know what Star Power is (probably most of you; I had never even heard of it until last Saturday), the whole object of the game is to get the most amount of points. Each player has to randomly draw 5 chips out of a bag. Each chip has a different point value. To gain points, every person has to go around and bargain with their competitors to try and seal a deal. However, no one is allowed to talk unless they are making a trade, and to make a trade, the two competitors must be holding hands at all times. In addition, once these two competitors link hands to make a trade, some kind of exchange has to happen in order for the trade to end. That means in order to be able to let go of a partner’s hand, one person must benefit from the trade while the other must decide to face a penalty. At the end of each round, everyone’s total points are counted and the entire class is split into 3 sections – the “squares” were the people with the highest scores, the “triangles” were in the middle, and the “circles” were those with the lowest amount of points. Now, there were many more factors that actually went into the game, but to keep this post from turning into a five page paper, I’ll skip ahead to my main point.

By the end of the game, our class as a whole agreed that the groups had clearly split into three distinct personality types. The squares, those who were given the most power and had the most points, were very greedy and selfish. The triangles were hardworking, and the circles, the lowest of three groups, were the generous ones. Looking at the three groups (I was with the triangles), I noticed something very interesting: there was only one girl in the square group and only one guy in the circle group. The majority of the girls were circles, the majority of the guys were squares, and the triangles were somewhere in between. Granted, the guys in our class may have just gotten lucky when drawing chips the first round, but I’m still not wiling to chalk this whole incidence simply up to coincidence. The demographic of this game, with the men at the top of the food chain and the women at the bottom could not possibly offer a more accurate representation of the corporate world. What do you picture when you hear the words “big business” and “CEO”? Chances are, it’s a bunch of men in suits. Men dominate the job market in almost every single occupation and the gender pay gap is still very, very extreme.

But why is this? There are a variety of reasons, but the main one is that men are allowed to be selfish. Think about what you’ve seen, either on TV or in your past experiences. It’s not uncommon for a man to dedicate his whole life to his career. It’s considered admirable, in fact. Most men in positions of high authority are considered powerful and consequently, are highly respected for it. Now think about what you’ve seen about women in positions like these. It’s a lot less common to see a female have these high power positions, but on the off chance she does, she’s always portrayed as uptight, bossy and mean (think of Sandra Bullock in The Proposal or Miss Congeniality or The Heat. So basically, imagine Sandra Bullock in almost every movie she’s been in). The common belief is that women are supposed to be the generous ones: raising children, cooking and cleaning, and basically making everyone else’s life easier. In relationships and families, women are usually the ones who are expected to sacrifice their goals in life for the benefit of others. This is exactly what the game Star Power demonstrated: the reason most of the girls were in the circle group is because each time they made a trade, they ended up taking the penalty and giving away their chips to help the other person. Most of the times, the person receiving the benefit in those exchanges was a guy.

So I’ll leave you with this, my wonderful classmates. Next time you see something like this, like if you’re flipping through Forbes and you see that out of the hundreds of Fortune 500 CEOs, only a few are female, take the time to really notice this gender stratification, instead of dismissing it as a normal occurrence. Part of finding a solution to this gender inequality is truly acknowledging that it exists.


Ridiculous expectations for the male gender

Today I figured I would spare you all my typical angry rants. I decided I’d focus more on something people have probably already heard about – Emma Watson’s speech on feminism that she presented at the UN conference recently. If you haven’t seen the speech and would like to, you can access it here.

(Disclaimer: if any of my writing seems biased in favor of Emma Watson it’s because she’s my woman crush forever and always. How can you be that pretty, intelligent AND talented? Doesn’t seem possible to me.)

Anyways, the majority of Emma’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis here) speech consists of things we already know about feminist stereotypes. However, she chooses to focus a lot on how in order for women to have better treatment and equal rights, the expectations of men need to change as well. Men, in our society as well as others, are always expected to be the strong ones. Masculinity is perceived to be the strength of a man’s punch or his unwillingness to show vulnerability. When was the last time any of you saw one of your guy friends cry? Probably not as often as you’ve seen your girl friends break down. If women are allowed to show weakness, why do we expect men to be so in control of their emotions at all times? I may not be speaking from personal experience, but I know for a fact that guys have feelings too. The fact that men are not allowed to express these emotions freely just adds to the list of ridiculous expectations society prescribes for us. According to Emma, the biggest killer of men ages 20-49 in the UK is suicide. Simply put: if men were allowed to be sensitive and talk about their feelings, these suicide rates wouldn’t be nearly as drastic. And, if we try not to be so tough on men, the rights of women will improve by default. As Emma says, “if men don’t have to be aggressive to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive” (Youtube 2014). Thus, I leave it to you, my fellow classmates, to think before you tease one of your male friends for being too “soft” or “girly.” Remember that though they might not seem like it, guys have emotions too and should be allowed to express them just as much as girls.