Last week, a man I know, a disabled man, admonished me, ‘Don’t be bossy’ when I told him to go use the lift because he needed to be quick in line and there were quite a few of us who would need to be using that lift. We had just come out of the a room at the House of Lords from a meeting and I was told that staff was waiting to take us dowm.
I was reminded of the ‘Ban Bossy‘ campaign but I bit back my retort. It wasn’t worth it. I do question myself sometimes because I do often focus on the job at hand and organise even if its not always for me to organise. I suppose if I was a man it is true that I would be more valued as a sort of project manager. Would I be deemed ‘masterful’ and decisive then?
And again when there was a crowd of us in Strasbourg, France for a disabled people’s rally to the European Parliament, it was the last night and I decided to organise an escape from the bigger group to go for a drink/tarte flambe at the tourist spot, Petite France. One of the PA*s of a colleague had a fit and complained about my ‘bossiness’ to his employer because he had a crush on another PA in the wider party and did not want to tear himself away. It didn’t matter that it was me that had organised the whole trip. My colleague did not come so as not to have the confrontation with his PA – he depended on him to get him home after all. We had spent at least 3 days together, we did not have much time left of the trip before we all set out home again – normally I would have left my collegue to tell his PA himself. Normally I do not engage with another person’s PA but I wanted my friend to see more of my favourite city than the conference place and the European Parliament building.
The only other time I was called that was in my kitchen when I was cooking with a French chef and I think I was stir frying and focusing and asked peremptorily for ingredients – I think in such an environment when precision is part of the exercise, I was surprised to be criticised such.
I dont think another woman have ever called me that. Maybe I have a selective memory. But I realise that I have had doubts and stopped myself from venturing opinions or volunteering. Its not just when I am female in a male world but because I am non white in a Caucasian world, or disabled in a non disabled world and I get vibes that I am speaking out of turn at times. Its being the outsider.
Its like realising you’re making tyre tracks on the sand when others leave footprints.
* A PA is a personal assistant or a personal care assistant to assist a disabled person for independent living.