Rachel Bloom, creator of Golden-Globe-winning “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” has given us musical numbers on how to give good parent and realizing you’re the villain in your own story. And now in partnership with Vanity Fair, she’s also tackling the anxiety of being a #ladyboss in a new music video. Through the laughs about Bloom wondering “how much boob is too much boob” to expose to your co-workers, she is also making pointed social commentary about the common tightrope for young female bosses: wanting to be respected while also wanting to be liked.
I want you to do what I want /
But let me say it in a nice way /
All right, I shouldn’t care if you think I’m nice /
Do you think I’m a b—-? Well, I don’t give a s—
But if I do give a s—, is that internalized misogyny?/
Truths in the laughs
Bloom is playing up anxiety that research has shown is well-justified. Harvard Business Review research says that female bosses are penalized by their employees if they don’t demonstrate traditionally feminine skills like “empathy, support, sensitivity, and self-disclosure.”
The rub is that male bosses aren’t seen any worse if they don’t show these empathetic qualities.
But for women, it matters.
Bloom’s song also tackles female-to-female dynamics in the workplace. After Bloom asks a coworker what her problem is, and Taylor admits she thinks “your success means my failure.” There’s a persistent “Queen Bee” myth — thoroughly debunked — that women are inherently catty and won’t support one another.
Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg break down the myth in their New York Times column. They found that when a woman became a CEO, women below in her rank would have a better chance of joining senior management.
Studies show that women worry about how they’re perceived in male-dominated office settings, with reason. Perceptions of behavior are very different for men and women.
As Grant and Sandberg noted: When female executives promoted diversity in the workplace, they received lower performance ratings because they were seen as trying to game the system.
Yet when a male executive would do the same push for diversity, he was rewarded for it with higher performance ratings.
That’s why Grant and Sandberg found that when women fear “that their group isn’t valued, some members [will] distance themselves from their own kind.”
But in this song, there’s a happy ending. After hashing out their differences through song, Bloom and Taylor come to an understanding.
Overall, “#Ladyboss” is a hilariously true look into the mind of being a young female boss who wants to please others while accomplishing her own goals.
But there is a limit to wanting to be liked: no matter what doubts Bloom admits she has about leading a team in her power ballad, she does not want to hear her colleague Derrick’s “useful thoughts” about this.