Posted by: PharaohKatt | 03-05-2011

Step One: Be Bossy

I have been quiet on this blog for a while, and in the blogosphere in general. This is not be because I have nothing to say — believe me, I’ll never run out of things to say! — but because my time has been filled with being a Convenor for Swancon 2012: Doom Con.

You see, last weekend was Swancon, a Western Australian SF convention (it was also the NatCon, the Australian convention). I wasn’t running this convention, thank goodness, but I was planning my Launch, which took place on Sunday. I thought I was learning a lot about leadership while planning the launch but it has since become clear to me that I have a long way to go.

The problem is that I have been socialised to be kind and nice and not make waves. This is a problem I think a lot of women in leadership positions have. Alisa Krasnostein (this years Convenor) summed it up well in one of her Galactic Suburbia podcasts (episode 29 about 47 mins in): “It is bad for a woman to be bossy”.

“Bossy” is a gendered insult; it is only ever women who get slapped with this phrase. If she is taking charge, taking control, being in command, she is seen as bossy (and as a bitch, but thats a different discussion). I realise, even now that I’m aware of it, that I keep toning down what I want to say. I keep umming and aahing and humming and hahing and generally trying not to be seen as too forceful.

Because I am afraid of this label. I am afraid of being seen as bossy. And even after realising this, I still sent emails off with that fear in the back of my mind.

But I want to change that. I want to just do things without worrying about what people will think of me.

I made this icon for Alisa, but right now I need it, too.
[Image Description: Angelica Pickles from Rugrats on a white background.
Top, in black, straight writing: “Dare to be”
Bottom, in hot-pink curly writing: “Bossy”]



  1. I have to disagree with your statement that bossy is a gendered insult. I have myself been called bossy when I was a child and I know of many other occasions of men and boys being called bossy.

    I think rather than saying bossy which is a word of negative connotations you’d be better to say assertive. When I think of the word bossy, I think of unflexibility and orders being passed out. If you are assertive with what you are trying to achieve and embrace flexibility you make people your collaborators rather than subordinates. Everyone loves helping out on their own terms, very few people like being forced to.

    I agree with your overall intent though. You need to be assertive to achieve things. No one ever achieved anything great by not rocking the boat a little.


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