Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm A Bossy Ass Bitch.




"Hey, I'm going to set up my station here. Is this a good spot for you to run me a lunch box for power?"

I didn't think much of the wardrobe girl's request, actually appreciating the thoughtful nature of her question. After all, how many times have we cursed other departments for setting up exactly where we don't have easy access to a distro box?

My colleagues, however, had other opinions.

"Sure, we'll run you something right now," replied Juicer 1. Then to us, he says, "Why doesn't she just say she needs a lunch box there? Why did she ask us if it's okay? If she wants one there, she should just tell us."

"Yeah. It's like that article I showed you the other day," Juicer 2 chimes in. "About how women don't ask for what they want?" He then turns to me. "We read this article the other day about how this one company paid their male employees more than their females. When confronted about it, the guy said that after all his years running the company, not one woman ever came in to his office and asked for a raise. But the men would, and that's why they'd get paid more. Women have a tendency to not ask for what they want in the work place. I think they need to be more assertive. Don't you agree, A.J.?"

I stood there for a moment, grateful for colleagues who read articles on inequalities in the workplace and trying to create a dialogue about it instead of hiding under a rock, and at the same time, shocked at how naive and over simplified their solution was.

"Yes, I think overall, there is an issue with women not asking for what they want at work," I started, "but I think if Ms. Wardrobe had just said, 'I need a lunch box here,' you would've probably thought she was a bitch."

Juicer 1 slowly nodded his head in contemplative thought. "Yeah. That's a good point. I hate to admit it, but I that's probably what I'd do." Juicer 2 didn't say anything.




Moments like that echo in my head a lot these days. Over the past several months, I've had a few opportunities to step up in my department. In other words, I've been given the chance to lead instead of follow. And let me tell you, it's been fun. I love being able to run things my way and I absolutely enjoy the perks of being the boss, even if it's only for a short while.

However, as those opportunities arise, I've noticed more and more that critics of my work tend to fall in to two camps: those that think I'm a great leader, and those who think I'm bossy.

Let me preface this by saying that my superiors (and often their bosses as well) think I do a fabulous job. Everyone I've stepped up for wouldn't hesitate to hire me again. I'm proud of the work I do and the results I get, and in the end, that's all that should really matter and fuck the rest, right?*

So why does this bother me so much?

Because there shouldn't be such a distinction between the two ways I'm described. I approach every job the same way and treat my crews the same. So realistically, I should be considered either bossy or a good leader. And yes, while one could argue that the two terms aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, in this case they are since "bossy" is always used in a negative way while "good leader" is always meant as a compliment.

This leads me to wonder if I'm seen as bossy because I'm actually bossy (in every negative sense of the word) or if I'm "bossy" because that's how they describe assertive women? If it's the former, how did I go from being bossy to a good leader (and vise-versa) when I'm doing the same thing on every job and if it's the latter, well shit, where do I go from here?






I've run into issues like this before and when brought up, most men see it as making it a feminist issue when it isn't one and "sometimes a bossy bitch is just a bossy bitch." So how do we address a problem when those who perpetuate it don't realize they're perpetuating it?

Am I a bitch? Am I a good leader? Am I bossy? Or am I just an assertive woman?

Do the latter two mean the same thing?




*In theory. I'm not even going to get in to the fact how rumors circulating around about me being a bossy bitch will affect my future job prospects.

4 comments :

Michael Taylor said...

Given that the Wardrobe woman was just setting up -- and apparently ready to move if this was not a good spot for you to run power to her station -- her request was beyond considerate. I've never had Wardrobe or Hair/Makeup ask me that -- they just ask for power, and I run it. As a juicer, that's part of my job, assuming the gaffer doesn't need me on set at the moment -- in that case, it's the BB's job.

As for the bossy vs. good leader thing -- women really are stuck between a rock and the proverbial hard place there, for all the reasons you list. It's a fine line to walk… but the female BB on my last show walked it well. She never had to raise her voice or get "bitchy" -- if anything, it was the opposite. She was very quiet and matter-of-fact, delineating what had to be done and who was to do it. It probably helped that her crew wasn't a bunch of macho neanderthals, but she set the tone and we fell into step. She was great -- I'd work for her again in a heartbeat.

My previous show's final two seasons had a female BB, and although her style was very different, the results were pretty much the same -- she never had to yell, and we always followed her lead. We had a very experienced crew, so she wasn't afraid to ask for ideas from time to time -- we'd chip in, then she'd make the call. No fuss, no muss, no sidelong glances or muttering about what a bitch she was, because she wasn't.

All told, I've done six seasons working under three female BBs, and although each had a very different approach to the job, they were all really good. No bitches -- just good leaders.

i wouldn't worry about it too much. Just do your job right, be fair, thoughtful, and strong, and don't yell unless it's a life-threatening situation. The good crew people will notice and respect you for it -- and the bad ones? To hell with them... and don't hire any of those fools on the next show.

A.J. said...

Michael - Sometimes, (and by that, I mean often) those fools are unavoidable. I'd have no problems if I can hand pick my crew, but my crews are often inherited and guess which A-holes do I get the most criticism from? Yup, the "untouchables"/the ones I can't get rid of.

It sounds like you had a very good BB on your last show. And it sounds like she had a very good crew to boot.

Michael Taylor said...

Ah yes, the "untouchables" -- with their unearned, undeserved, and utterly infuriating sense of entitlement. There's not much you can do about those clowns, unfortunately, other than endure their presence. And that sucks...

JD said...

I might have questioned if Wardrobe really need a lunchbox to call her own. How many steamers and irons are you going to run? You're going to get a Woodhead, if you insist on a lunchbox, I'm going to make you share it.....

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