Like slut, “self-promotional” is a charge levied against women for the purpose of silencing, shaming and shutting them down. It refers less to unseemly behavior and more to an idea that whether the offender is too aggressive, too self-confident or simply too unique, she is a woman who has stepped out of the can-can line and seems to be enjoying herself and her continuing success too much.
How frequently are men:
Called aggressively self-promotional in a negative way?
Seen as a problem for making it known within the workplace that they are seeking promotion, an increase in pay, an increase in responsibility — and making sure their superiors can easily track their accomplishments as a path to getting there?
Encouraged to “lean back” and not worry so much about how to get from the present to the goal, however improbable, because it will all work out? Encouraged to gain more experience before taking risks that will help them grow?
The answer is, they’re not. Certainly nowhere near as much as women. Examine your personal life. Look at the proportion of Congress (less than one in five elected representatives are women). Take a business example and consider the aggressively self-promotional Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, and how he is commonly portrayed as charismatic and chasing the dream.
Bluntly, self-promotion is part of chasing the dream. You are much more likely to achieve success and get what you want if you make it known to yourself and others what your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow looks like, and how far along the beam you’ve traveled so far. Without shame and with pride.
I’ve found that women who first come to my attention with a “self-promotional” whisper coiling around their reputations tend to be women I love. How exciting to have dreams. How wonderful to go for it. How silly to claim that a woman should sit down, shut up and take whatever bits are tossed at her. If you’re doing something cool, we should all be so lucky to hear about it and share in your success. And if you’re calling another woman self-promotional as a slur, kindly shut up.