XXXO: Why ballsy women struggle to be accepted in business & life


I remember M.I.A from my university days when her first album, Arular, dropped. She came to my first university and did a set which is know almost 5+ years ago. I just knew that I was going to be hearing about her again because she had the X Factor from the moment she stepped on the stage. I have followed her career on and off since Arular and Kala, which is my favourite album of hers. Now her appearance on the US Superbowl and her new video have inspired a lot of harsh criticism – she is 36, I am sure she can handle it – but it made me think, why are societies across the world frightened of a woman who speaks her mind?

‘You want me to be somebody who I’m really not’

In her song XXXO from her third album, /\/\ /\ Y /\, she sings about how someone wants her to be someone she is really not. This really applies to women who are ballsy, aggressive and are fortified in life, and especially in business. I think society expects women not to be aggressive and going to get what they want. When a man goes out there and closes on a deal, he is a killer, a wolf, handling business. If a woman tries to show the same kind of concentrated aggression in business, (some) people get intimidated by this.

I don’t think women in business should try and be like men – we should just use the focus required to succeed in the same way without worrying about gender labels. We are separate and equal: the analysis advantages women have can be used in business to qualify leads for cold calling and writing proposals to increase sales. In developing countries though such as Tanzania, I believe people do not take businesswomen seriously when it comes to closing deals. This sounds like a massive generalisation but it is one that I think is true, most male business owners here want to close deals with men – imagine a focused woman turning up to a deal signing – it’s like someone has crashed the party – and this is the impression that I get in my trials & tribulations to be taken seriously here.

Excess Sex Oh: A case study

The other day, I was at a family wedding event and Laura, my friend from London and I were waiting in the car park. I was joking around and messing with her. A military guard came over and tried to assert his brand of masculinity on me barking orders at us to leave the car park immediately, that he could see we were having a ”party” in the car park (we were standing joking + laughing). He was incredibly rude and authoritative in such an inappropriate way – we are civilians, this was not the army barracks and it was a wedding event. I let him know in no uncertain terms that he could not speak to me like that and if he wanted to get his point across, he did not have to be rude because I was not going to accept that.

It put me in a foul mood but then it reminded me of the consistent bullying that occurs against women here by some men. If you show a hint of strength or aggression in standing up for yourself, you are going to be put in your place whether you like it or not, that is the impression I got from others. This is why I think M.I.A’s song XXXO makes total sense to me – women are accepted for sex and whether that is in excess terms, that’s great but once you are seen as someone who is going to stand up for themselves, the male-oriented society of Tanzania wants to remind me that I am not as important.

‘If you like what you see, you can download install’

Ultimately, going out there and getting what you want is the only way to build a successful life where you call the shots. Since I have been living in Tanzania now for almost 2 years, I always think every day about how I want to be the one who is controlling my own life. M.I.A chants that you can download/install if you like what you see in her electro-pop track: this applies to women who are trying to do their own thing. If people like what you symbolises, they can download what you are about, if clients like the products and services you are offering, they are paying to install them into their business. If your family does not support what you are about or the society at large does not want you to be the woman you are, tell them you love them with XOXO.

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4 thoughts on “XXXO: Why ballsy women struggle to be accepted in business & life

  1. Hey, hey, aulelia! I have to send a HUGE apology for taking so long to get over here. It’s been a very busy world, this life of mine. I’ve got two blogs running (the other is a project status blog for editors and such) and one of them, Words From A Wicked Woman”, had stage fright so badly the first post didn’t show up! I ended up going in and tweaking (no, not THAT kind of tweaking) some options and soothing her nerves. I was awake nearly 48 hours getting her up and running. Now that she’s OK, I’m on the hunt for readers.

    While I was doing that, I wondered if my old friend, you, was still around. Lo and behold, I find you on charcoal-ink. Then, I looked at what you’re covering and the new areas I’m going to cover and thought to myself, “Uh oh! Aulelia’s going to kick my butt on this one.” It’s true! While I’m still going to remain more political, I’m adding coverage of more lifestyle areas–like fashion. In fact, that’s going to be my first REAL post. Then, I thought, “Well, Aulelia’s covering fashion from a different perspective. Maybe the thing to do is team up and we can discuss issues back and forth as we kind of wanted to do before.” How does that sound to you?

    Back to YOUR blog now. I liked the article on M.I.A. The same sentiments are here too, though probably not as strongly. I’m sure you remember when now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a candidate for the Democratic Party’s top spot on the ticket. Although I had issues with her for other reasons, the conservative press put her through hell in a way no one would have dared put one of the men. The poor woman broke out in tears one day because she was exhausted and the subject matter hit a nerve (I have forgotten what it was). The press went on a feeding frenzy and, in the end, it helped cost her a chance at the presidency. Ironically, Clinton has really shined as secretary of state. She’s one of the best we’ve ever had. Girlfriend’s Spanx are made of kevlar, baby!

    There is only one other woman I’d like to see in Clinton’s spot and that’s U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. I think Rice would have had Foggy Bottom sewn up but for the deal Obama made with Clinton to get her the hell out of the race. Truthfully, I was extremely disappointed that Rice didn’t get the job. Her credentials are far and above those of Clinton’s. In addition, Rice is the first black woman to hold the U.S.’s permanent seat at the U.N. I don’t know what it’s like in Africa, though I see this more and more frequently on European shows, she’s married to a white Canadian journalist who work(ed) at ABC News as a producer of This Week with George Stephanapolis. There’s a photo of Rice with her family here. She is an amazing woman who is where she is because she’s good and not because she’s a token or married white. Now she is one ballsy dame. Just look at all the coverage she’s gotten in the last couple of days over the U.N. Security Council vote on Syria.

    • Many thanks for your comment and well done for being back. I think essentially my article was about how difficult it is to be taken seriously and I think this applies to a wide range of women especially if you have opinions! This is why I mentioned M.I.A because she really speaks to me as a woman

  2. Great insight, and yes I totally concur, women have a much harder task on their hands when trying to juggle assertiveness whilst retaining their femininity.

    I just read a quote from another WordPress blog this morning which said “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula the failure, which is: Try to please everybody – Herbert Swope”. http://care4curls.com/2012/02/10/the-secret-of-success/

    So when just need to be what they feel they want/need to be. Let our outcomes be the judge.

    • Many thanks for your comment – and I think what you said about assertiveness is spot on. It is hard to get the balance just right because I don’t believe in this idea that women have to be like men either.

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