02/21/2014 01:27 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2014

Stop Calling Assertive Women B*tches

Sarah Fader

My daughter is 3 years old. She's scared of absolutely nothing and no one. She's wild, free, daring and a fire cracker. I love her spirit.

I see her. I truly see who she is at this young age. She's a force to be reckoned with. She's a strong little girl. One day, she will grow up to be a strong young woman. I can't wait to see that evolution take place.

Right now, however, her strength is interpreted various ways by society. Often, people will refer to my daughter as "bossy," "demanding," "wild" or worse -- "a brat."

I'll tell you what my daughter is, she's assertive. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid (even at the young age of 3) to get it. That's a skill to be proud of. That's a quality that needs to be nurtured and honed. This aspect of her personality should not be dulled, it should be harnessed and used for good.

My girl is a born leader. When people come up to me on the street and remark that my child is "wild," I often come back at them and say, "That's OK, one day she's going to be the CEO of a large corporation. You just watch."

This view of powerful women being "bossy" starts at a young age. When I was a little girl, I believed the way to get others to like me was to be nice. I shouldn't be confrontational. I certainly should avoid hurting other people's feelings. Additionally, it would be wrong to express anger, because that would make me look "crazy" or "wild." The brainwashing from society starts young.

As an adult woman, whenever I've had the guts to express myself or stand up for what I believe in, I've blatantly been called "crazy" or a "bitch" or other pejorative terms for merely confidently expressing my opinion. Assertiveness is an asset. Assertive women are often mistaken for being "bossy bitches."

When a man asserts himself, society calls him a go-getter. People are impressed when a man stands up for himself or achieves his goals because we have been conditioned to believe that it is acceptable for men to be assertive. Women, on the other hand, are supposed to smile and be nice.

If a woman displays outward assertiveness, she is called "a bitch." Assertive women are not bitches. We're powerful, we're strong, we've got something to say and we're not afraid to say it.

The next time someone calls you a bitch, remember that what they're really saying to you is "I am intimidated by the fact that you have a strong opinion and I'm not sure how to handle your confidence."

Back to my little daughter. I will continue to encourage her to be vocal about her opinions. I will tell her that her voice matters. I will encourage her to speak up, even when it seems like nobody is listening. Her voice is strong and it needs to be heard.

Stop calling assertive women bitches, and start calling them brave. Start referring to them as go-getters. Most importantly, hear what they have to say.