opinion

Abby Butler is 17, a budding politician and she's a proud bossy female. Here's why.

In the field of politics, women are discouraged from voicing their opinions and are seen as bossy, loud and overpowering when they make strong decisions. When men do the same, they’re seen as good leaders. There’s a real double standard. But we can change that, writes 17-year-old Abby Butler. 

According to its definition, to be bossy is to be fond of giving people orders.

It is to be domineering, autocratic, dictatorial and oppressive and when I was younger I remember being called bossy a lot.

I distinctly remember running my first meeting for the volunteer group at my primary school and having that adjective spat at me by an older boy.

I was made leader of the group in Year Five, and this particular Year Six boy was clearly unhappy with that particular democratic process.

It may have been that I had decided he would be on the face painting stall at the school fete, but I think it was something much more ingrained that fuelled this discomfort with the situation.

Watch Abby speak to ABC News about her role as Youth Premier of New South Wales.

Video via ABC News

You only have to look as far as your own childhood to recognise where and why this divide occurs.

When I was younger I was told by the world that I could be anything; so as long as it could be dipped in pink glitter and there was a matching Barbie Doll.

Younger boys are taught to dream bigger: to be space explorers and captains of the sea. Grownups tell us that little girls become princesses, not politicians and little boys become builders, not ballerinas.

The patriarchal inequity permeates every inch and every moment of our lives.

It teaches grown men that crying equals weakness and that being in charge is strength. It teaches young boys that little girls seeking leadership are dangerous.

Abby participating in Youth Parliament. Image supplied.

Writing this article I look around me and see a melting pot of the Australian youth of today; motivated, articulate and passionate about creating real change in their local communities and broader.

The disappointing reality, however, is that this trend is not being mirrored in the most critical aspects of our society. From the powerful halls of Parliament House to the boardrooms of big business, the fact is that women are not being proportionately represented.

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At the crux of this underrepresentation is a culture dominated by double standards, where females are seen as bossy, loud and overpowering when making strong decisions, as opposed to men who are seen as strong and exemplifying values of leadership.

This culture is changing, as I saw throughout the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament program, where young men stood up to speak against issues of domestic violence and revenge pornography.

I cannot express how empowering it was to see motions against both of these pertinent issues being passed unanimously within the chamber The YMCA NSW Youth Parliament opened the door for us as young people to raise important issues that impact all of us, regardless of gender.

Of all places, it was on a primary school excursion to Canberra that I first realised I had the potential to eclipse these weird, seemingly stagnant constructs.

Year-Six Abby was sitting on a carpet shaped like Australia right next to a small-scale diorama of Lake Burley Griffin when the tour guide presented a wall of all past Prime Ministers.

From Barton in 1849 to Rudd in then-2010, all twenty-five of our nation’s past leaders were numbered and glared at me as my classmates fidgeted around me.

There was a twenty-sixth box below a question mark. The tour guide turned it slowly to present a mirror. “Will someone in this class be next?” she asked, scanning the room of eleven-year-olds for the nation’s new leader.

My friend beside me grabbed my arm and threw it enthusiastically in the air. The tour guide summoned me to the mirror.

“You could be on this wall someday. In fact, you could probably be the first female on this wall.”

As Amy Poehler said, "To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all." Image via Getty.

Fortunately I wasn’t the first woman on that wall. But my passion does not stop there.

From leading the volunteer group in Year Five to becoming the fifteenth Youth Premier of the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, I have put my heart and soul into advocating for issues I care about and urging others to do the same.

As Amy Poehler said, "To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody's passionate and engaged and ambitious, and doesn't mind leading."

By this definition, I am proud to be a bossy female.

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