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Not Much to Say About Women Speaking Up

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There’s a post by Staci Zaretsky up at Lawyerist asking why Women Lawyers Are Silencing Themselves Staci concludes that irrespective of what most women do, she’d rather be labeled a bitch than be silent. Jessie Kornberg, the executive director of Ms. JD also suggests that women are caught between a rock and a hard place: if they speak assertively, they come across as unattractively aggressive, but if they’re reticent, others take credit for their ideas.

I’m posting on this topic because Lawyerist’s editor, Aaron Street asked for my perspective on this topic. But I don’t have much to say. I’ve always expressed my views without reservation – in law school, at law firm meetings and on listserves. Even though I have a big mouth and I’m a frequent complainer, I’ve never been labeled a bitch. Blowhard, big-mouth, crackpot, know-it-all, show-off pest and (on a PTA listserve) a fool – yes, but never a bitch.

Women are ready to talk – the question is, whether anyone is ready to listen. I’ve noticed that many of the speakers on the law talk circuit — particularly paid ones and the keynoters, are men — though I know that’s changing, and has inured to my benefit . I also don’t know whether it’s sexism that keeps women off panels, or if it’s because many women have less travel flexibility because of family situations. After all, even in the most equitable of households, our partners are very rarely our partners, a point made by Sheryl Sandberg in this TED Talk.

As I said, I can talk my head off. But this is one topic where I don’t have the words to express an intelligent opinion or more importantly, the distance to share perspective. Because right now, I’m still living these issues myself.

Do you have any insights or opinions on this topic. Male or female – speak up!

  • Staci Zaretsky

    Carolyn, I’m honored that you’re commenting on what I’ve written!

    I’ve actually been called a bitch a few times, but not because I act like one. I just think it’s the first nasty term that comes to mind, at least for people in my age bracket, when commenting on a woman who speaks her mind.

    In real life, although I do like to talk a lot, I think that I’m polite and kind to a fault. It really bothers me when I do get called a bitch, because to be frank, I’m not one.

  • Carolyn Elefant


    I never thought for a second that you act in any way that might characterize you as a bitch. But even though it’s false, it shouldn’t bother you (just like being called a fool doesn’t bother me either) – since it shows that you’re getting under someone’s skin, which means that you have power.

    BTW, love teh topic of your blog. Really neat niche.

  • Staci Zaretsky

    Thanks! I hope to be able to write some more after I take these pesky bar exams!

  • Really?

    Please really?? Who are you kidding. C’mon you definitely deserve the BITCH title as unfortunately that’s exactly how you’ve behaved. Instead of created real progress for woman and the law, you opted to act unethically, with total reckless disregard for truth, objectivity and the people you harm.

    Get over yourself bitch.

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