Women are constantly criticized for being too emotional. Can we be allowed to be as messy, as all over the place, as inconsistent and as mediocre as men? Do we have to always be patient, special, nurturing, adaptable? –Amy Poehler
I promise you; this isn’t a man-bashing post. Not totally, anyway.
Action Mary is a communications agency. Words matter to us. And now, more than ever, as we are barraged with presidential malapropisms, text conversations, emoticons, and endless tropes and memes, words should matter to all of us.
Over the course of my career, I’ve oft found myself belaboring over a single word in a long-form post. I’ve written and rewritten (and garbaged) more brand statements that I can remember. I’ve pained over tense, deliberated superlatives, and body slammed punctuation.
But that’s just my writing.
If you want to talk with me, be forewarned.
I don’t hold back in everyday communications. I shoot from the hip and I have good aim. I don’t always choose my words carefully and I am known to make statements laced with emotion and opinion rather than political correctness or sensitivity. I am one to “call them as I see them,” as they say. I’m emotional and sometimes belligerent.
But I’m not alone. An outspoken woman in business isn’t a rarity anymore. I thank our feminist leaders before us for starting a revolution and turning the tide so that many of us can speak our minds as we wish. Yet how we are perceived when we do speak up is another story altogether.
A woman who disagrees without explanation is a “bitch.” A woman who speaks too loudly and too strongly is “too much.” A woman who doesn’t apologize is an angry man-hater. A woman who puts in long hours and makes sacrifices for her career is a cold shrew. The descriptors go on and on and on and most of them share the same degradation.
So what can be done? In a world where words matter and freedom of the woman’s voice is imperative, how do we speak our truth and have our words hold the same water as the men the speak alongside us?
By speaking up. By finding a passion that doesn’t allow for you to stay quiet. Women at all levels in (and out of) business need to speak up more. Don’t wait to be asked what you think. Offer up your ideas. Don’t let your male colleague mansplain or interrupt you. You know what you’re talking about.
The path to success is not the one forged by anyone; it’s the one we create for ourselves. We can only be allowed to communicate like our male counterparts by not asking permission from them to do so. Those days are over.
At Action Mary, we work hard every day to help our clients speak up in their own voice whether that’s emotional, outspoken, unexpected or irreverent. We aren’t here to henpeck (though our use of language is indeed impeccable), we’re here to amplify what it is they’re passionate about in their own words.
As for you, stay curious. Stay in front, hold your ground. But remember, words still matter. Even if they’re fueled by power instead of precision. Even if they’re messy.