TIME Entertainment

Anita Hill Has a Vision for the Future

Anita Poster
Samuel Goldwyn Films

It's been two decades since the nation began to talk about Anita Hill — and she has some thoughts on what we should talk about next

Anita Hill is back in the news — but this time, it’s because of a movie.

Hill, who first rose to national prominence in 1991 when she testified in the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of her former boss Clarence Thomas, alleging that Thomas had sexually harassed her, is now the subject of the documentary Anita (in theaters March 21). The film — by Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock — has won raves at festivals, but the maelstrom of 23 years ago are still a touchy subject for the woman at its center. This week’s issue of TIME takes a look at why Hill decided to participate in the documentary.

The reasons are multifaceted — unsurprisingly, considering the controversial and complicated case that serves as the film’s subject. But one of them is not so difficult to parse: Hill’s testimony brought sexual harassment into the national conversation, and there it remains. People know what sexual harassment is and are willing to talking about it; in 1991, they weren’t. As Hill told TIME, she’s glad to see the work done by modern activists, who are also featured in the film — and though Anita isn’t strictly an advocacy film, it highlights the modern state of sexual harassment.

And that’s why Hill says she has some thoughts about what needs to happen next. Here’s what she said about her vision for the future:

I would like to say that I do have a vision. This really is Freida’s film and I didn’t have any kind of agreement in advance for what she could or could not do, and I didn’t try to design the film for her, because I knew she wouldn’t agree to it, because she’s a consummate professional — but I do have a vision.

It seems to me that we have lived with a generation or so of informing people what their rights are, and giving women and men the skills to come forward, to talk about what goes on, whether it’s sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace or any number of settings. My vision is not just that we can give people to skills to talk about these things and address them when they happen. My vision is that we change the culture so that you don’t go into a workplace assuming that these things will happen, that the culture is changed in a way so that when they do happen it’s a rarity and not the norm. That’s what I’m aiming for.

It’s good for people to know what to do, it’s good for people to have the skills, it’s good for us to raise our voices against it — but it would be better if we could envision a world where it no longer exists.

And that — even though Hill’s still a controversial figure — should be something everyone can get behind.

TIME feminism

Dad: I’m Going to Keep Calling My Daughter Bossy

Bossy Child
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I'm going to teach Penny the difference between being bossy and being a leader. I'm going to teach my son the same thing.

Sometimes there is a word for a behavior or person that it is so accurate that skirting around it to come up with another descriptor is just dishonest. For a lot of us with 5-year-olds — girls or boys — that word is bossy. When my daughter Penny acts bossy, I’m going to let her know it. No matter what Sheryl Sandberg and Beyoncé say, I am not going to Ban Bossy.

Sometimes my daughter transforms from an adorable delegator to a tiny tyrant. It’s not cute, and it is not acceptable.Penny is one of the leaders in her class and the alpha to her little brother’s omega. Most of the time, my wife and I love it. She’s assertive and she knows what she wants. It cracks us up to see how she can convince Simon, who is 2, to do anything. (She is going to get him in so much trouble down the road.) But sometimes, she crosses a line. She goes from assertive to entitled. She transforms from an adorable delegator to a tiny tyrant. It’s not cute, and it is not acceptable.

The issue being raised in the Ban Bossy campaign alleges that if we call girls bossy often enough, they’ll stop being assertive. They’ll shrink from leadership positions and won’t volunteer in class or speak their mind in or out of school. It would be devastating if that happened to my girl, especially if I was one of the causes. If I thought that was a possibility, I would delete the word from my vocabulary today. But I just don’t see it.

I don’t see the gender difference. Maybe it’s because I’m a man. Maybe it’s because my wife and I have pointed out how bossy Simon gets too. I guess neither of us realized before Ban Bossy that other parents have been admiring the little guy’s leadership ability. (Either he is a precocious tyke or, more likely, that is not actually the case.)

The call to ban bossy comes across as arbitrary. It’s catchy and makes a great hashtag, but is bossy used that often to criticize girls and women? Is the word ever used to describe anyone over the age of 11? It’s just so G-rated! If an adult is bossy, there are much better words to call them. (I don’t think they should be banned either.) If a girl can’t be called bossy, should she be called pushy instead? Of course not, because the message is the same. So how many words are we going to need to ban before this campaign comes to an end?

I’m not saying words don’t matter. They do. I’m not saying that women and girls aren’t demeaned by certain words. They are. But my daughter can, at times, be bossy! And that is not a good thing, regardless of gender.

Penny can’t be a leader if no one will follow her. And no one will follow her if she keeps bossing them around. At a certain point, her friends and even her brother will get sick of it. At a certain point, she will become a bully. As caring and loving parents, my wife and I don’t want to let that happen.

I have seen glimpses of Penny’s potential bullying behavior, and it ain’t pretty. Sometimes it’s overt, like when she literally pushes Simon into doing things. Other times it’s more subtle. For example, one of her friends constantly gets in trouble for saying “boobies” and acting inappropriately around her mother. Penny thinks the whole thing is hilarious (both girls do, really), so she eggs her friend on. It leads to a lot of giggles, but her friend inevitably gets a stern talking to and occasionally has to leave the playdate early.

Being a leader means caring for and empathizing with those you are leading. Being bossy, being a bully, is easier because you only have yourself to think about. In fact, you don’t really have to think at all. You just act for your own immediate self-gratification. As a child, this behavior is understandable, but it is not something that deserves encouragement.

I want my daughter to become the wonderful person that she already is in so many ways. I don’t think I could keep her from growing into a strong woman if I tried. My wife and I want her to speak up and assert herself. We also want her to be respectful and listen to others. She can get so loud, focused and determined that she refuses to consider anyone else’s feelings or opinions. She starts issuing edicts to everyone around her. If it were my son behaving this way, would I pat him on the back and tell him, “Job well done”? No. I would say, “Dude, you’re being bossy. Let’s calm down a little and figure this out together.”

The Ban Bossy campaign got a conversation going, which is awesome … and a little ironic. We need to communicate more, not less. I’m not going to ban the word, but I will think about it whenever I use it. I’m not going to stop calling my daughter bossy. I’m going to teach Penny the difference between being bossy and being a leader. I’m going to teach my son the same thing. If my wife and I have done our job right, Penny will already be showing him the difference.

Lesser blogs at Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter (@amateuridiot).

TIME feminism

How Women Are Reshaping the Defense Industry

Rep Kay Granger (R-TEX)
Chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger, R-Tex., listens as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., before the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Feb. 29, 2012. Mary F. Calve—MCT/Getty Images

The defense industry is facing unprecedented challenges, with the help of a new group of women leaders.

Women currently hold a little over four percent of the Fortune 500 CEO positions. However, in the defense industry, women are at the helm of 50 percent of the largest firms. Although women are hardly new to the industry, they are moving rapidly into the top jobs, and in the process melting away the defense industry’s male-dominated image.

As the vice chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, a subcommittee I have served on for eight years, and the chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, which I have been at the helm of for the last six years, I have witnessed the transition, and seen the challenges, firsthand as more women serve as leaders within the defense community.

The defense industry is facing unprecedented challenges. Yet, with the help of a new group of women leaders, solutions to the defense industry’s challenges are being advanced, and in the process the future of our national security is being shaped and secured.

For years, Della Williams, a constituent of mine, was one of just a handful of women defense industry executives. She started the company Williams R.D.M., formerly known as Williams Pyro, in 1963. Williams R.D.M is a defense contracting firm with more than 100 employees. While she has overseen tremendous growth of her company, establishing a positive name for her business did not prove to be an obstacle-free endeavor for Williams. She founded her company at a time when women’s roles in the workforce were only beginning to change, and she dealt with her share of gender-related challenges early on.

Back then, and even today, women in the workforce often feel they are not listened to. Instead of letting this serve as an obstacle, women have turned it into a strength by becoming better listeners themselves and in the process stronger leaders. This trait becomes very important when you have management-union issues, for instance. It also leads to more win-win decisions and less ego driven results.

Fifty years ago, most engineers were men, and when they picked up the phone to call Williams Pyro, they expected to speak with a male counterpart on the other end. When they heard Della Williams’ voice on the line, many of them were skeptical of whether she could help them. To the skeptics, Williams would say, “Try me.” If she couldn’t help them, they were no worse off than before they called — but that was rarely the case.

Like most executives, earning a good reputation and rapport with customers and other industry leaders didn’t come without Williams spending a lot of time at work. Unfortunately for her, as a woman, the idea of balancing work and family would inevitably come up. She felt a duty to her employees, their families and her customers, so there were many nights when Williams remained at work instead of going home. She was so devoted to the success of Williams Pyro that she even returned to work four days after having her third child during the full-scale development of Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

Similarly to Williams, Marillyn Hewson, who now serves as the chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, has shown herself to be an exceptional leader in the industry. Her employment at Lockheed began in the early 1980s, and she has since served in 18 different leadership positions. She claims she climbed the ladder at Lockheed because of her self-reliance, which she learned from her family growing up. Her father died when she was nine, and her mother was left to raise five children as a single mother. This tragedy taught her not only self-reliance, but to be responsible for her own personal successes or failures.

In November 2012, Hewson became Lockheed’s CEO because the corporate leadership and the board of directors recognized her talent, and because she was known for never holding back when given an opportunity.

When she took over the top job, the Joint Strike Fighter program was uncertain, and even the smallest mistakes made were amplified by the media. The Joint Strike Fighter is unique in the world, but has had continuing problems with the Pentagon. There was a real lack of partnering that changed almost immediately when Marilyn took over. The conversation changed as did the attitude. Decisions were made that had been delayed for months.

Women tend to be problem solvers by nature. In many cases, that trait becomes more important than having a particular title, their name on the door or the highest salary, but this can also work to their detriment and make it take longer to reach the top.

To combat problems with the Joint Strike Fighter program, Hewson appointed Lorraine Martin as the program’s general manager in April 2013. As a result of Hewson and Martin’s work, criticism of the program has been significantly reduced. These women achieved this outcome by bringing authenticity to the table and rebuilding the program’s credibility. Rather than tucking away the company’s previous errors, they acknowledged them. They supported contract incentives that now hold Lockheed accountable and pushed the company to make the aircraft for less money.

At General Dynamics, Phebe Novakovic earned a similar reputation for authenticity within her first weeks as CEO. When the company’s $2 billion loss first hit the news on January 23, 2013, General Dynamics’ stock price fell by more than five percent within a span of a few hours. Rather than whitewashing the situation, Novakovic spoke candidly about the problems at hand and emphasized measures that were going to be taken to fix them. Her honesty caught the attention of Wall Street, and it responded. By the end of the day, General Dynamics’ stock rose 50 cents higher than the previous day.

Through using their instincts of honesty and authenticity, these women made it to the top of their industry — even when they were sometimes the only women in the room. Linda Hudson, CEO of B.A.E., also understands the feeling of being alone in a room full of men. As the first female CEO of a major defense company, she has played a critical role in changing a culture that has traditionally been closed to women. Although the market was starting to sour when Hudson took over at B.A.E. in October 2009, Hudson successfully reversed the negative opinions that were out there. She streamlined the company, better integrated the two dozen businesses that B.A.E. had cobbled together through acquisitions, and cut costs as the market demanded.

Hudson, Williams, Hewson, Novakovic and other women leaders in the defense industry are meeting and exceeding demands for better management during this time of fiscal restraint. They are proving that one’s gender doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do with the opportunities given to you. In the process, they are shaping the world.

Congresswoman Kay Granger represents the 12th District of Texas. She is the Chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations.

TIME feminism

I Order You to Read the 6 Best Things Written About Banning Bossy

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg, billionaire and chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., pauses during a panel session on day four of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2014. Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Everyone's talking about banning 'bossy,' but here are the smartest takes we found

It’s been a good week for LeanIn.org’s Ban Bossy campaign — not only did Sheryl Sandberg get Beyonce to do her bidding, she also managed to get #BanBossy trending on Facebook and Twitter.

In the spirit of bossiness, we’re telling you to read the six best things written about Ban Bossy this week. Do it. Now.

From TIME:

Don’t Ban Bossy: Ban Bossiness by James Poniewozik

I Don’t Give a $*%& If You Call Me Bossy by Jessica Roy

From around the web:

The Problem With Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Ban Bossy’ Campaign by Ann Friedman, New York Magazine

Don’t ‘Ban Bossy,’ Sheryl Sandberg: Tell Us What to Do Next by Alexandra Petri, Washington Post

Even If ‘Bossy’ Could Be Banned, There Are Far Better Ways to Boost a Girl’s Self Esteem by Hadley Freeman

The Problem Isn’t the Word ‘Bossy’– It’s Leaders Who Abuse Their Power by Noah Berlatsky

I want the report on my desk in an hour.

And in case you missed it, here’s the Ban Bossy video that everyone missed while we were watching the Beyonce one. Watch it.

TIME Music

Jennifer Lopez’s Music Video for “I Luh Ya PaPi” Objectifies Men — And Maybe Women, Too

The just-debuted clip makes its point — sort of

Yesterday, when Jennifer Lopez premiered the video for her new single “I Luh Ya PaPi,” she introduced more than a clip of singing and dancing. In an intro scene, the video concept is up for debate; Lopez vetoes proposals to film at a carnival or a zoo, especially after it’s noted that if she were a guy, the conversation would be about yachts and half-naked girls. “Why do men always objectify the women in every single video?” asks one of her friends. “Why can’t we for once objectify the men?”

Then, things get weird.

What follows seems at first to be a fantasy of the video the women propose: a run-down of music-video tropes — and past J. Lo incarnations — with the genders reversed, all set to the super-catchy track. She walks through a mansion morning-after scene strewn with underwear-clad men, is waited on by speedo-wearing pool boys, watches shirtless dudes wash her car and dances on a yacht full of sunbathing hunks. The camera lingers on their abs, and one car-washing guy even (hilariously) scrubs his crotch with a soapy sponge. That’s pretty much what music videos full of half-naked girls look like, and it deftly underlines the point about ladies wanting to have fun (of the looking at sexy people variety) too.

But pause the video around 3:55.

What’s weird is that during the verse contributed by rapper French Montana, all the tropes Lopez set out to mock come right back. The part where he stands there (fully dressed, unlike the speedo dudes) while Lopez struts around him in short shorts is one thing; it’s her video, she’s choosing what to wear, she’s supporting the featured artist on her track, and presumably she wants to look sexy — so that’s how she does it. It’s a little bit of a strange choice considering the video’s theme, but, sure. The thing that really stands out is that there are also two backup dancers who act as decorative objects for his appearance. They don’t play characters, they don’t really show off any particular dance skills, you can barely see their faces — it’s pretty much a textbook case of the “video vixen” objectification that’s derided in the video’s intro.

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that an artist has tried to satirize the video status quo and not gone all the way. In November, Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” video went in a parallel direction and was roundly criticized for — in her detractors’ view — making a point about objectifying women by inadvertently objectifying people of color. Lopez’s video is more fun and less biting, but they’re pretty similar situations: in both cases, good intentions were obvious, but the artist didn’t go quite far enough.

In Lopez’s case at least, a video that doesn’t have any women objectified would be the result of seeing her idea through — but she could even go a step beyond that. If she and her girlfriends are upset enough about women being objectified in music videos to make a whole video skewering that tradition, why respond by objectifying other people? Yes, objectifying men does make a satirical point — and that car wash scene is pretty funny, because car wash scenes are always funny — but not objectifying anyone would be a more sophisticated solution to the problem they identify. Still, Lopez is a pro at music videos, so perhaps she’s identified something about the state of that industry that explains why she didn’t take it to that logical conclusion. For now, if “I Luh Ya PaPi” is any indication, even the almost-equality she references is destined to remain a fantasy.

TIME feminism

How a Bunch of C-Words Got Into the Oxford English Dictionary

Dictionary
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This week's new additions to the historical catalog, including several that crudely refer to female genitalia and actually date back more than 800 years, highlight the power of old words

Note: If you don’t like to read the c-word, you should probably stop reading.

On the rare occasion that people think of lexicographers, they don’t usually imagine those scholars sitting around attempting to define the foulest words in the language. Yet that is part of the job, as one can see in the latest batch of additions to the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, which contains cunted, cunting, cuntish and cunty.

Part of the reason those words were made part of the historical catalog on Thursday is that they are more than foul things one is taught to never say in front of Grandma. They are firecrackers packed with gender and history—even if they just seem like vulgar derivatives of a vulgar word. Here is a bit of the backstory.

cunty (n.): adj. despicable; highly unpleasant; extremely annoying.

The word cunt, which more literally refers to female genitals, dates back to the 1200s. In the Middle Ages, English speakers were less squeamish about obscene language because they had much less privacy and therefore less shame about things like sex and body parts. So the c-word probably wouldn’t have raised too many Black Death-plagued eyebrows. It was even used in surnames at the time, like Clawecuncte.

Today, things are obviously different. In her boldly titled book, Inga Muscio opens by saying that the c-word is “arguably the most powerful negative word in the American English language …. [and] refers almost exclusively to women.” She’s wrong about the latter; the word, especially when used in the United Kingdom, often refers to men or is a gender-neutral slur. But most people would probably agree that calling someone “cunty” is one of the ruder things you could do at the American dinner table.

Love it or hate it, that gives the word and its derivatives a lot of power, which is part of the reason that some feminists have tried to reclaim it as a symbol of “the innate power of the sex organ it names,” as author Betty Dodson wrote. She finds it preferable to its generally inoffensive cousin, vagina, because that word is derived from the Latin term for sheath or scabbard, suggesting that a lady is nothing more than a holder for the all-important sword.

TIME Entertainment

Behind Bestie: What We Learn About Gender From New Dictionary Additions

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A.L. Christensen / Getty Images / Flickr Open

A dictionary update is just a list of words. It's also a testament to who English-speakers are and how we see ourselves

This week, the Oxford English Dictionary made the most exciting announcement a dictionary can: new words had been weighed, measured and added to the historical catalog.

On the surface, it might seem like just a list of new entries and sub-entries. But words that have been around long enough to get into the OED pack more context than meets the eye. And some in this addition have an obvious theme: women. You know, those people who craft language and use language in powerful ways, even when they don’t know it.

Here are three new word entries in the OED and a few things they can teach us about how culture and language collide.

bestie (n.): a person’s best friend; a very close friend.

It would be unsurprising to hear a teenage girl use this cutesy word to describe her very best friend in the whole wide world. What might be surprising is what a profound effect that young women have on the English language. “There is increasingly more recognition for the role that young women play in creating and disseminating slang,” says Katherine Martin, Oxford’s head of U.S. dictionaries. “Women are huge innovators.” Even if those innovations are ending statements like they’re, like, questions.

“It’s generally pretty well known that if you identify a sound change in progress, then young people will be leading old people,” Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times for an article about the vocal fry, or creaky voice. “And women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average.” That is perhaps why a study published in December showed that more California men are just now starting to use “uptalk,” that mock-able Valley Girl style.

heroine-worship (v.): to admire (a woman one views as a heroine) intensely, excessively, or uncritically.

The first thing this entry probably reminds you of is hero worship, a term that has been in the OED since 1857. “One thing you see a lot when we’re revising is the addition of the female version of something we already have the male version of,” says Martin. It also goes both ways, like when a term such as love god is added after love goddess.

The heroine/hero pair, Martin says, is one of many in which women can fall into either category and men can only fall into one: “A hero can be a woman, whereas a heroine can’t be a man, and that’s a really common thing.” Like actor/actress, there is a male form that is viewed as fairly gender neutral and a feminized form. The interesting part comes when people decide which one to use—and why they make that decision, like a female who rejects actress because she feels actor makes her sound like a more serious thespian.

“It’s a late 21st century phenomenon to think that anything that is gender-restricted to women is somehow lesser and so, then, to oppose that. That’s where this preference for gender-neutral terminology comes from,” Martin says. “But if we dislike the feminized terms, does that mean that in some way we are buying into the concept that the feminine is less-than?” With that in mind, a woman might prefer to be worshipped as a heroine than a hero, viewing it a word through which she can proudly own being a woman.

dead white male (n.): a dead Caucasian male writer, philosopher, etc., whose pre-eminence, esp. in academic study, is challenged as disproportionate to his cultural significance, and attributed to a historical bias towards his gender and ethnic group.

The argument inherent in this dismissive term is that there has been too much focus on the things dead white men have done or said or written, especially in academia. If one felt that Herman Melville’s genius was overblown, for instance, one might refer to Moby Dick as “a big fat book by a dead white male about a big fat white sea mammal.”

“It fits into the 1970s to the present awareness of gender issues and a critique of how we use language and what we study,” says Martin; its a word that “identifies the fact that, historically, the work of white European males has been privileged over the work of other people.” The really notable detail about this entry, she says, is that the editors decided to include it. Niche ideas discussed by a few people have no place in the dictionary: “When things go in the OED, it tends to be because they’ve been around for so long that it’s now a concept we’ve actually adopted widely.”

That is to say, the very fact of its inclusion in the OED means a lot of people believe—or have at least discussed the possibility—that dead white men get too much attention. Such is the power of a dictionary update, on its face just a mostly boring list of 900 words.

(Speaking of updates and things that are not boring, one particularly female–and typically vulgar–word referring to a woman’s anatomy got a little more space in this year’s dictionary when variations of the C-word were added. Here’s a brief history of that particular term.)

TIME ban bossy

Don’t Ban ‘Bossy': Ban Bossiness

Getty Images

We need to fight double standards, but not by encouraging everyone to act like the most obnoxious men.

I’m the father of two boys, which means I’ve had plenty of exposure to the world of other boys. Most of them are delightful. Some are… a challenge. They push. They cut in line. They hog the ball. They know the answer, ooh, teacher, call on them, over here, over here! They want to play the game this way, because it’s the right way. They specifically requested that the peanut butter go on top of the jelly, not the jelly on top of the peanut butter because, ugh, God, disgusting!

They are, in other words, bossy boys. They may become leaders and found companies for which someday I will work and later be downsized. They may be profiled in magazines and be admired for their “executive leadership skills.” But they are also a royal pain in the ass, and I’d rather live in a world that encourages their behavior as little as possible.

Which is why the Ban Bossy campaign, from Lean In and the Girl Scouts, struck a chord with me — but only to a point. As Lean In’s Sheryl Sandberg says, correctly, the problem with the term “bossy” is that we apply it more often to girls, while boys with the same traits are considered “assertive” and “aggressive.” Her solution: stop calling your daughters bossy.

Here’s another idea: Start calling your sons bossy.

The double standard Sandberg identifies is absolutely real. But why is the solution to encourage aggressive, domineering behavior in women, rather than discouraging it in men? I know plenty of obnoxious, bossy men. And maybe society does applaud them. But I don’t want to be around them, I don’t want to work with them, and I certainly don’t want to work for them. Who likes “assertive, strong, dominant leaders”? Other assertive, strong, dominant leaders. That is, pushy jerks.

It’s fantastic that people are examining double standards at home, in the workplace, in relationships. But in every case, we seem only to be able to resolve them on the terms that are most friendly to corporations and shareholders, easiest on the bottom line, least threatening to, well, bosses.

Work-life balance, for instance, is a real problem that holds back women’s careers. So could we address it with more maternity and paternity leave, shorter hours, more telecommuting, more mommy- daddy-tracking with less punitive consequences? Nope! Not in the budget! Instead, we get an offer of greater equality, but only equality that replicates the crappiest behavior of stereotypical men, that idealizes the goal of having everyone be type-A workaholic drones.

So, problem: Working moms are guilt-tripped for spending more time on the job and less time at home. Solution: Everyone should get to spend more time on the job! Problem: Women are shamed for being bossy, and men are praised for it. Solution: Everyone should be proud of being bossy! Problem: Women are defined in terms of their home lives and men in terms of their work lives. Solution: Let’s define everyone in terms of their work lives! Yay, us!

As a man, obviously, I haven’t been on the women’s end of these double standards, and they hurt women far more than they do men. But they also benefit a specific type of man — the human steamroller, the guy who sees his kids maybe on weekends — who we shouldn’t be trying to emulate. The stereotypes that say that a woman who is ambitious at work is a bitch are the same stereotypes that say a man who lets his job take a backseat to his family is a wuss.

By all means, if you feel the urge to call a girl bossy, think about where it comes from, whether it’s merited, whether you’d say the same thing to her brother in the same situation. But if you don’t want to live in a world of, by, and for the bossy, ask yourself why you’re not calling her brother bossy — and whether maybe you should.

And if he doesn’t like it, he can spread his damn peanut butter and jelly himself. He’s not the boss of you.

TIME feminism

11 Ways To Avoid Sounding Like a Sexist Jerk–Even If You’re a Woman

How Not To Sound Sexist (Even If You're A Woman)
Illustration by Leah Goren for TIME

Sheryl Sandberg wants to ban the word bossy, but that's just the tip of the demeaning language iceberg

Whatever your opinion of the campaign by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In foundation to ban the word bossy — which, for the record, I advised on — one thing is indisputable: the power of words is stark.

Call a little girl “bossy” and she starts to avoid leadership roles because she’s afraid of being seen as unlikeable. People are already wary of assertive women at work, but call a woman “aggressive” out loud and they will probably like her less. Call a female politician a ballbuster enough times, and people may actually be less likely to vote for her. Words tell us something about the way our culture perceives women in power, and whether we believe they’re supposed to be there.

So, in an attempt to save you — writers, speakers, humans, journalists — from falling into the gender bias trap unintentionally, we’ve put together this handy guide:

Don’t Call Girls Bossy. Or Grown Women Aggressive.

Seriously, don’t do it. And while you’re at it, don’t call them pushy, angry, brusque, ballbusters, bitchy, careerist, cold, calculating — you get the point. Also: shrill and strident, both of which imply high-pitched and screechy women a la your mother, finger pointed, scolding you to clean your room. Bossy is the subject of the new Sandberg campaign, but it’s something linguists have written about for decades. The reality is that these words are rooted in stereotype, and they are only applied to women. Think about it: girls are bossy, boys have “leadership qualities.” Women are deemed aggressive, while men are simply decisive (or just, um, bosses). From Ruth Bader Ginsburg (called “a bitch” by her law school classmates) to the “ball-busting” Hillary Clinton, historians will tell you: women in power have long been punished for exhibiting qualities of assertiveness, because it veers from the “feminine” mold. And yet, isn’t it precisely those assertive qualities that will help women get ahead? If you wouldn’t call a dude these words, don’t say ‘em of a lady.

Please Avoid the ‘Crazy Woman’ Trope. And While We’re At It: She’s Not ‘Moody,’ ‘Hysterical,’ or ‘Emotional’ Either.

Female hysteria was once the catch-all diagnosis for a woman with problems, and it didn’t disappear entirely from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders until 1980. But the trope of the crazy, emotional, moody, hysterical, PMS-ing, crazy woman — or worse, the crazy, emotional, hysterical romantic stalker — remains in full force. Crazy is the catch-all putdown for any woman you don’t like/makes you uncomfortable/doesn’t fit the mold. (Or as Tina Fey said in her book Bossypants, “the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to f*ck her any more.”) The problem with being a woman is that it’s impossible to avoid this label. So what even is crazy? A woman who expresses opinions? A woman who speaks too loud, or out of turn? Am I crazy if I yell? Am I crazy if I like a guy? Am I crazy if I act like a leader? Whatever it is, it usually doesn’t refer to any kind of real life mental illness. So keep the crazy label in check.

Women! Not Girls! Except in the Case of Girls. Or ladies. Wait, Damn…

Right, it’s a confusing place out there for what to call a grown female person. My girlfriends are “girls,” sometimes I mention having a conversation with a “chick,” there’s a resurgence of “lady,” sometimes I even call girls (oh wait I just did it) “babes.” But if you are a professional writer or journalist or interviewer or anybody else speaking publicly about women and not talking about the HBO series and not ruminating on the use of the word – or, you know, are addressing a woman on the air – please try to call us women. My mom would be super happy, thx.

‘Blond,’ ‘Perky,’ And Other Cutesy Descriptors.

What not to call women in power in print: Petite. Ladylike. Blond. Blue-eyed. Perky. Or perhaps having a “soft, girlie voice,” as was a recent description-of-choice by NPR’s Morning Edition, in a piece about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s legislation to change the way the military views sexual assault. If these adjectives don’t tell us something a subject beyond identifying her as a woman, it’s safe to assume they are sexist filler. Journalists, this one’s for you: Come up with something better.

Avoid Describing the Sound of My Feminine Voice. Also, the Tone of It.

Women naturally have higher-pitched voices than men. Do we need to point it out? There’s no male equivalent of “shrill” or “screechy.” And I don’t believe there’s one for “nasal-car honk” tone either. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid descriptors like “whiny,” “nagging” or “complaining” to refer to women. Unless of course you’d use them to refer to a man too.

Leave Looks Out Of It.

That means Hillary Clinton’s cleavage, her cankles, her haircuts, pants suits, or the color of her blouse — all irrelevant to whether she’s going to make a good president! I also don’t need to know about Huma Abedin’s “rich, glowing hair,” Elena Kagan’s “drab D.C. clothes” or that Janet Yellin wore the same outfit twice (she’s the motherf–king head of the Fed). Here’s what the Washington Post’s internal stylebook says about references to personal appearance in print: that they “should generally be omitted unless clearly relevant to the story.” In case that wasn’t clear, a few specifics. TV hosts: Probably a bad idea to comment on how hot a woman is on air. Interviewers: Let’s avoid asking badass ladies in various fields about their looks, diets or favorite fashion designers. (And for more on this topic, check out Lindy West’s great piece over at Jezebel on how to write about female politicians.)

A Note On Shoes.

Unless they spark a full-on feminist shoe movement, shoes are not relevant.

Two Women Running Against Each Other, Or Disagreeing, or Remotely in the Same Competitive Industry, Does Not Equal a ‘Catfight.’

Why are female politicians in a race, or women in an office, or friends, or sisters, are described as catty or bitchy, constantly on the verge of a catfight, while men are seen as worthy rivals? Perhaps Urban Dictionary explains our media obsession with “catfights” best: “the male fantasy of two women ripping each other’s clothes off.” Recent media “catfights” include Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric. Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg. None of which were actual catfights, but managed to inject sexual undertones and generally devalue these women’s accomplishments. Research has shown that the “catfight” stereotype actually carries over into the workplace — giving women a bad reputation and leading to long-term implications.

Please Stop Asking If Women Can ‘Have It All.’

When in doubt, read this column, from the public editor of the New York Times, published last month amid outrage over a magazine cover titled, “Can Wendy Davis Have It All?” “Despite its well-intentioned efforts,” the Times ombudsman wrote, “this piece managed to trip over a double standard with its detailed examination of Ms. Davis’s biography, including her role in raising her two daughters.” And while we’re at it, let’s stop asking how women manage to “do it all.” Tina Fey declared this “the rudest question you can ask a woman.” Because the answer is simple. She’s doing it the same way a dude would, except that he doesn’t have to answer questions about it.

Avoid Gratuitous Gender Qualifiers. (And Don’t Put Baby in a Parenthesis.)

Female comedian, female director, female journalist… journalists covering “women’s issues” (why not just “issues”)? These modifiers are the linguistic version of a parenthetical or insignificant aside — which is exactly how late night comedy host Chelsea Handler was referred to in a recent article in the New York Times. In a rebuttal, Huffington Post, Handler declared: “I don’t want to be singled-out and lauded merely because I am successful ‘for a woman … The success of any woman should never be qualified by her gender.” When we can remove the “female” part of these phrases — because it is assumed that a female can, um, be these things — then our work here will be done.

On Husbands and Marital Status or Being a Mom.

We’re talking about pointing out that a woman is “unmarried” or even that she’s a “mother of two.” As Allyson Jule, the author of “A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender,” puts it: “These representations of women trivialize their lives and place an extra level of personal judgment on them.”

Finally, When In Doubt, Take the Quiz!

Consider it the Bechdel Test for language.

STEP ONE: Reverse the gender of the subject of the article/paper/sentence.

STEP TWO: See if it sounds funny.

STEP THREE: If it does, see the tips above.

(And to get an idea of the incredibly sexist things some female pioneers have been called, check out ‘Bossy Women:’ 16 Leaders Who’ve Overcome That Label and Much, Much Worse.)

TIME Entertainment

Twilight Sends Girls a Bad Message Says Divergent Star Shailene Woodley

"Divergent" Chicago Screening
Actress Shailene Woodley poses for photos on the red carpet for the "Divergent" screening at Kerasotes Showplace ICON on March 4, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois Raymond Boyd—Getty Images

Bella shouldn't give up everything for a guy, the actress says

Teen ‘It’ girl of the moment Shailene Woodley is no fan of Twilight.

The 22-year-old star of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the critically-acclaimed film, The Descendants, is on the precipice of teen fiction superstardom: she has the lead role in Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, both based on popular young adult novels and both due out this year.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Woodley criticized the uber-popular YA series, Twilight. Though many have praised the book for its emphasis on love rather than sex—the couple famously waits until marriage to consumate the relationship—Woodley thinks the relationship sends a bad message. The young star calls out the series for glorifying Bella’s decision to give up everything for a guy:

Twilight, I’m sorry, is about a very unhealthy, toxic relationship. [The protagonist Bella] falls in love with this guy and the second he leaves her, her life is over and she’s going to kill herself! What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve.”

The upcoming Divergent, which has been compared to The Hunger Games in the girl power discussion, focuses on a young girl on her journey to overthrow a totalitarian regime. Keep the empowered heroines coming!

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