Mike Kueber's Blog

February 21, 2014

Bitches and a-holes and Facebook

Filed under: Culture,Media,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 2:58 pm
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A female friend Patrice recently posted on her Facebook wall a witticism from Sheryl Sandberg – “I want every little girl who is told she is bossy to be told she has leadership skills.”  Sandberg is Facebook’s COO and recently authored a book titled “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”  Sensing an opportunity to refute some misguided feminism, I commented as follows:

  • I actually think there is a difference between being bossy and showing leadership skills.”

My friend responded, “As a male, you wouldn’t understand.”  And one of her female friends Carol piled on – “It is merely referring to empowerment, and I like it.”

Two guys came to my defense.  First my brother Kelly said, “It’s over my head, too; like being bossy is a good thing.”  And Aneta friend Eddie added – “I have a 6 year old granddaughter that is real bossy, she tells me do it now, don’t wait.  I tell her she will make somebody a good wife one day.  From now on I will tell her she has leadership skills.

I thought I applied the coup de grace to Carol as follows:

  • Empowered to boss others around?  Some people claim this issue is sexist because boys/men are taught to feel perfectly fine when they impose their will on others.  I disagree, at least as applied to growing up in ND.  Yes, bossy women are sometimes labeled as a b—-, but there is a term for bossy men, too, and it is a–hole.  Both are arrogant and self-centered and disliked.”

My friend Patrice decided I needed enlightening – “Mike Kueber, let me enlighten you. Often, when women lead, others denigrate her by calling her bossy. As in, ‘Why should I listen to that bossy bitch?’ Well, maybe because she IS your boss, or is in a position of leadership. As I said, you are the wrong gender to understand this. A woman can be a leader without being called names. Or so we hope.”

Brother Kelly – “Well maybe they are bossy!”

Patrice – “Go watch your Mad Men reruns.”

Patrice’s sister Denise joins the fray – “Michael and Kelly – get a life.”

I couldn’t let Patrice’s Mad Men reference go without whacking it out of the park (I thought):

  • Patrice, I just finished binge-viewing Mad Men on Netflix.  If your personal philosophy is informed by a TV show about Madison Avenue advertising people in the early 60s, that explains a lot.  Most reasonable people would agree that the sexual and racial views depicted in that show no longer exist.  Getting back to your original post, it does not refer to a woman who is your boss or in a leadership position (and I agree your concerns are valid there).  Rather, it refers to a little girl who is bossy.  We can agree to disagree whether that is a trait that should be encouraged in the little girl.”

Patrice decided to close her case by circling back to an argument she has used before when we debated abortion:

  • As I said originally, Mike Kueber, as a male, you can’t possibly understand. The end. No hard feelings.”

Refusing to give Patrice the last word, I responded amicably:

  • Incidentally, they say that parenting (and spending) decisions are at the root of most marital breakups. These are things that most of us feel pretty passionate about. Not only am I a male, but I never had the opportunity to parent a girl.”

Carol also rejoined the fray by taking a conciliatory stance:

  • Michael…as I said way back there…I agree…not necessarily to teaching our little girls to be bossy, but teach them to be strong….some may interpret it to be bossy, others may say it is merely a form of strength…That was all that I meant by my comment…everyone has an opinion and that is mine! I have a daughter…she is a strong woman…which I am very proud of!”

I responded:

  • Carol Bland, we agree completely. Coincidentally, I’m just starting on a book titled “Compelling People, the hidden qualities that make us influential.” According to the book jacket, the exceedingly rare combination that makes us influential is “strength (the root of respect) and warmth (the root of affection).” It sounds like your daughter is on the right path.”

Another female friend from Aneta, Elsie, joined to take a humorous tack, much like Eddie, except from a female perspective:

  • A team effort is a lot of people doing what I say.  My motto.  Oh and did I tell you, my girls call me ‘Bossy Elsie’? How else will things get done the way I want it done?”

I responded, “Elsie Sandeen Davidson, seems like you have captured that elusive mix of strength and warmth. Incidentally, my aforementioned book defines strength as the capacity to make things happen with abilities and force of will. Warmth is the sense that a person shares our feelings, interests, and view of the world.”

Gotta love Facebook chats, but I wonder why Patrice said “no hard feelings.”  That should go without saying.

 

9/26/14 update – a few months ago, without fanfare, Patrice “unfriended” Kelly and me from her Facebook.  For good measure, her sister, who was not a friend of mine, “unfriended” Kelly, too.

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6 Comments »

  1. Patrice’s entire argument was little more than a genetic fallacy (“as a male you wouldn’t understand”). You should have called her out on that.

    Comment by Null — February 21, 2014 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

  2. Every time I saw that graphic, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief.

    I don’t care to who or how you apply it, the word ‘bossy’ and the implied behavior(s) are generally perceived as negative. There are many fine leadership characteristics to be grown, learned and earned, that isn’t a frame I would wish to work with or from.

    Comment by bobbevard — February 21, 2014 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  3. BTW~”you can’t possibly understand” is a fine rhetorical position to take when you don’t have a clear or strong position or when you wish to close out a conversation using PC nonsense.
    The exception to that may be when you are in a place of grief that I have never been to.

    Comment by bobbevard — February 21, 2014 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

    • Bob, I need to hook you up with Patrice. As I recall, she grew up in Ada, MN before moving to my part of ND at the start of high school. She recently retired from a job in government.

      Comment by Mike Kueber — February 21, 2014 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

  4. […] the hell did Denise Whitman come from? You may not recall, but as I blogged previously, Denise’s sister got into a heated discussion on Facebook with Kelly and me over bossy […]

    Pingback by Abortion rears its ugly head on Facebook | Mike Kueber's Blog — October 9, 2014 @ 12:50 am | Reply


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