Being labeled can be frustrating.

A few years ago, I stumbled across a women focused startup lab in Silicon Valley while browsing online. I was going to be traveling to San Francisco to meet with some entrepreneurs, and was looking to beef up my West Coast trip with some intros to startup incubators. I reached out to the this women incubator, asking to set up a phone meeting with the founder, a strikingly beautiful Japanese American lady in her forties who seemed to really have her act together.

I was introduced to her right hand man on the phone, asked if I might be interested in becoming an advisor to some women there, and a week later, received a call from the director herself.

The conversation went a little different than I expected. I was planning on simply meeting her and asking HER advice on running a startup lab since I was considering doing something like that in Charlotte. But almost immediately after talking to her over video Skype, she dropped the question. “Would you like to move to Silicon Valley and work with us as a women advocate for our brand?”

I spit out my coffee. What??? I was a single mom who lived in across the country, had three kids, and had never run a startup lab. Not to mention I had never even been to Silicon Valley (a travesty, I know).

I think I laughed and said something stupid like, “Uhhh, why me?”

However, I’m going to just rewrite history here and say that something more confident and intelligent came out of my mouth.

“So, what makes you interested in my services?” I asked, intelligently.

She smiled. “Because you’re a young entrepreneur, in your early thirties. You’re still in the rat race, you haven’t retired yet. You aren’t the typical woman, in your late 40s, with an empty nest, just now getting back in the game. You’re young, pretty, sexy (I think she said sexy. Let’s just say she did). And, MOST IMPORTANTLY you’re a WOMAN!”

The word “woman” to this day gets right under my skin and won’t stop pinching me.

You’re a Woman. *Shudder.*

I can handle the word “female.” I mean, I have a vagina, so like, yes, I’m a girl. Of course, my sister is a girl and she doesn’t yet have a vagina, so I’m not saying its a requirement. But for me personally, a vagina, a high voice, boobs, it makes me a girl. Oh, and a lot of female hormones. Which sometimes I hate. But a “woman?” To ME, that’s just an insult.

So why don’t I like being described as a woman?

I think back in the day when Hillary Clinton was becoming a woman, it meant burning bras and being proud to vote and yell profanities and drink beer and fight for rights. And then it turned into being able to wear crop tops and puffy hair and say sexual things in public. Which then turned into a fight to be allowed to be overtly sexual without getting accused of being the reason men were trying to hit on us in bars. And then all these females of course eventually grew up and started wearing pencil skirts, straightening their hair, stumbling around in heels, and acting like sane normal human beings in offices. And they were called “women.” They were sophisticated. Men respected them. Kinda. They were beautiful and classy.

Don’t get me wrong. I like being classy. But something about taming down the girl, putting her in a Clinton pant suit and trying to make her be like a man but calling her a “woman” doesn’t cut it for me.

And when the director said those words, “you’re a woman,” it dawned on me:

I don’t want to be a woman. Hell, I barely want to be female! All I really want is to be a person!

Why can’t girls my age just be people???

She kept talking to me, trying to get me to move out there, and I did go and visit, and heard the sob stories about women who couldn’t get meetings with venture capitalists unless they slept with them, and how women weren’t treated like equals and barely got the money the men got and it was horrible. I felt really bad, I did. But it pissed me off too, because I felt like instead of starting a lab for women to band together and act like a posse of jaded hormones and try to stand up for our rights as women, we needed to just try to be people with boobs. We need to own who we are.

After talking, I called up another lady I know in LA and discussed the issue. She’s in her early 40s. She’s gorgeous, Indian, married to a big TV star, has a bestselling novel and a line of skin care products. She’s amazing. Much cooler than I’ll ever be. But still, she’s the young sexy representative of Generation X, something that I don’t fit.

“We need to stand up for our rights as women!” she said, emphatically, running her hands through her perfect hair as we sat overlooking the pier in Santa Monica.

I clinked glasses with her. Damn straight. Women rule the world! Women are smarter than men! Women are fucking awesome!

But I couldn’t bare to say to her that it still bugged me: I didn’t want to be a woman.

Every so often I’ve wondered if there’s something wrong with me, not wanting to be considered a woman.

I’ve read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, loved it, and burned with feminine rage the whole time. My fiancé at the time even felt a little nervous around me while I was furiously highlighting paragraphs and giving him the stink eye as if he had singlehandedly destroyed the chances for women to succeed in the business world. But afterwards, I still felt a little misplaced. I don’t quite fit Sheryl’s vision for women in the workforce. She’s older than I am, she’s not a Gen Y tech girl, and she probably rocks the pencil skirt.

I still couldn’t figure it out.

And on top of all this, as I watched my transgender sister fighting to look and be treated like a girl, my constant silent question was always “WHY????” Why would anyone voluntarily give up their right to be an attractive white male and decide to be a woman? Now, granted, she’s not a business person. She’ll never run a company and she doesn’t want to rule the world like I do. In fact, in some ways, she probably wants to be treated the ways I hate (like having people give her hugs instead of shaking her hand, and holding the door, and saying sweet things).

But gosh, there are SO many disadvantages to being a girl. We have to wear makeup. We get judged if our hair isn’t perfect. We have to wear clothes that match our body type. We have to update our wardrobe regularly. We have to work out. We get ignored in meetings. If we cry, we’re PMS-ing, if we yell, we’re PMS-ing, if we’re annoyed, we’re PMS-ing. It’s always our freakin periods. Nearly everything is about our periods. And what’s left over is all about looking pretty and trying not to be a bitch.

She decided to transition right around the time that I was being told by women like the ones I’ve mentioned that I was to be a voice for younger entrepreneur women. And I was struggling with even wanting to be one.

But, I’m happy to say that this is not about me transitioning to be a man. Instead this is about owning that I’m a woman, or, rather, a female. I probably won’t ever own that I’m a woman. In fact, if I could burn that word next to Hillary’s bra, I would be tickled pink. Or blue, or whatever.

For the first half of my business life (and granted, it’s only been twelve years, because, well, I’m only 32), I tried to fit in. And then one day, shortly after all the “you can be a woman leader” convos, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and said, “Fuck it, I’m gonna just be a GIRL” and no one seemed to care.

I still got business.

I even stopped trying to wear pencil skirts. I stopped trying to act like the perfect single girl who had a nice stable boyfriend and never just had “fun.” I stopped pulling my hair back. I stopped saying “f – it” when everyone else was using the real word. I stopped holding back.

I stopped trying to be a woman, and started being a female person.

And I STILL got business.


So, let’s see what am I?

I’m an ambitious alpha leader and now I own that I’m the Marilyn Monroe figure and fashion, and I totally rock that early 90s blond curly mop hair style. And sometimes I wear Taylor Swift type shorts and heels to business meetings. Except when my knees are covered in bruises from rock climbing. Let’s not scare anyone, shall we?

So, no, I’m not a woman: I’m a female entrepreneur. I have a strong girl voice and I have a vagina. But I also have a pretty rockin’ brain. I use that brain, I use that voice, and I sometimes use the other part too.

I’m here to tell you that you can totally succeed in business without just being a “woman.” In the future, I will share more about how to rock being a girl. How to use your brain, your voice, and your vagina.

And dudes, my hope for you is that you learn to treat the girls around you like people. My favorite business colleague is a guy who never treated me like a girl. He just treated me like a person. We met, we had lunch every few months, we talked about work, we talked crap about people, we make jokes about everything from assholes we’ve been in business with, to my sometimes cocky behavior to his way of being completely undiplomatic. But he treats me like a PERSON, and its the reason I say yes every time he suggests having lunch.

So guys, be like my friend. Treat us like people.

And girls, own who you are. Be a girl. But do it the cool way. Rock it.