I am not on board with the whole “let’s never use exclamation marks again” train, and I still sometimes say “empowerment” although I know I shouldn’t because it means someone gave women power versus we just took that sh*t.
But here’s one I think we should all scrub from our vocabulary: High maintenance. This occurred to me recently when I was hanging out with a super successful lawyer friend of mine, who works 18-hour days, is an amazing manager to all the women and new parents on her team, is working in a part of law that makes people’s lives better, travels constantly for work, and is temporarily doing two jobs at her company to be a “team player.”
She said she no longer wanted to apologize for her requirements for an apartment: That it needed to have its own gym, that she needed a doorman to receive packages, that she had to have laundry in the unit, and a bunch of other things that she basically requires as a single woman to be able to function with such little personal time, so much travel, and such high expectations. But as she was saying that she described these request as “high maintenance.”
“I never want to hear you say that word again,” I said. “You worked your way through college and law school, you have worked your way up in this job, you are constantly striving and taking pressure off your team no matter how many more hours it adds to your day, and you are an amazing friend. Not only have you worked your ass off to be able to afford those things; you need the convenience of laundry, of someone to get your packages, of being able to work out without leaving the building. That’s not high maintenance, it’s self care.”
“High maintenance” is a way to neg accomplished and ambitious women for having standards. We may not control men saying it about us, but let’s stop saying it about ourselves.