Bossy (Power of Language in the Workplace)

When reading Bell Hooks’ Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory, I came across the following quote: “Women [spend] a weekend in an expensive workshop that guarantees to teach you how to become assertive (but not aggressive).” Immediately, I remembered a commercial I saw a couple years ago sponsored by Pantene. This commercial compared the language used to describe educated women in positions of power, such as politics or CEOs, with their male counterparts in the same exact job. Not only are women discriminated against in the workplace financially, they are also put at a disadvantage for holding positions of authority by male coworkers and male identification. For so long women have be instilled with notions of proper “femininity” and what it means to be a woman, and to an extent a good housewife. According to Foucault’s repression hypothesis, this innate nature of women is actually institutionalized by the patriarchal society and is a form of oppression. How we describe women and men is very important in the language we use. Due to society’s interpretation of words like “bossy” and “boss,” these words have been engendered and therefore serve as a form of discrimination against women or less masculine men.