Sheryl Sandberg doesn't like a word a lot people and parents use to describe little girls.
In an editorial for The Wall Street Journal, she called it "the other B-word." She says as a kid, she didn't really play with other kids, instead the current chief operating officer of Facebook used to organize their play.
In junior high, Sandberg recounts, a teacher stopped her best friend and told her: "Nobody likes a bossy girl. You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you."
In an interview with All Things Considered, Sandberg says she is launching a public service campaign aimed at getting rid of the word.
"This is a very negative experience for girls, if you look at my childhood, if you look at the childhood of most of the leaders we talked to, they lived through being told they were bossy," Sandberg said. "And it has such a strongly female, and such a strongly negative connotation, that we thought the best way to raise awareness was to say, 'This isn't a word we should use. Let's start encouraging girls to lead.'"
Sandberg, of course, stirred a ton of controversy last spring with her book Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which she called a "sort of a feminist manifesto." In the book, she encouraged women to "lean in" to their careers, embrace ambition and resist the tendency to hold back when they anticipate challenges in their work-life balance.
As our friends at 13.7 explained, she was criticized for being a successful woman with a lot of money giving advice to women who don't have the same resources. Maureen Dowd famously dismissed her as a "PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle boots."
This initiative is in some ways simpler. As Sandberg explains on her website, when a boy asserts himself, society calls him a leader. When a girl does it, she is called bossy.
"Words like bossy send a message: don't speak up or take the lead. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood," the website explains.
Sandberg was asked if this was really still an issue, being that girls are outperfoming boys academically. Sandberg said:
"I actually think that we are conflating issues of academic performance and leadership. And in one area, girls are leading, and in one area, boys are leading. And a lot of people are confusing those. And that's why the research has been so important, because it teases those apart. Where girls are definitely leading is they're outperforming boys academically. We see that. They're getting more of the college degrees; they're out-performing in every school. And I think what's happening, is that teachers, parents, people are more worried about boys and there are a lot of good reasons to be worried about boys. We of course want boys to perform academically. When it comes to leadership, when you look at the numbers for student governments, when you look at the numbers for people running for office, when you look at the data asking middle school kids if they want to lead — it's still really overwhelmingly male."
As for what she would tell teachers, Sandberg said:
"I think a lot of these biases are really not very well understood. And we all have them, myself included. And so I think one of the things you're speaking about really comes up which is that, almost every teacher thinks they're calling on boys and girls evenly. No one's trying to call on boys more. But time and again, blind studies show that we actually are calling on boys more, even though we don't realize it. Most parents think they have equal expectations for their daughters and sons, but when they're observed, the language patterns are found that they're actually encouraging their boys more to lead. So a part of the denial of this, that 'Oh, this isn't a problem, this is the old generation's problem,' is part of what we're trying to speak out against. ... In this case, we suggest that teachers do a little audit of themselves — keep track, you know, throw a little data at their own performance so that they can really see what they're doing."
You can hear more of Sandberg's interview on Monday's edition of All Things Considered. Click here to find your NPR member station.
We'll leave you with a little non-scientific survey. We'll post results Monday evening.
How many times has the average person been greeted with the phrase "long time, no see" after running into an old acquaintance? My guess is plenty. But how and why did such a grammatically awkward phrase become a widely accepted part of American speech?
It turns out there are, at least, two strong possibilities.
The first time "long time, no see" appeared in print was in the 1900 Western "Thirty-One Years on the Plains and in the Mountains, Or, the Last Voice from the Plains An Authentic Record of a Life Time of Hunting, Trapping, Scouting and Indian Fighting in the Far West, by William F. Drannan. That last part of the novel's very long title is relevant here, as it gives a good indication of the kind of story Drannan wanted to tell.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Drannan used the phrase to describe an encounter with a Native American he had previously met, "I knew he had recognized me. When we rode up to him he said: 'Good morning. Long time no see you,' and at the same time presented the gun with breech foremost."
The phrase would be used in a similar way in Jeff W. Hayes' Tales of the Sierras, another Western published in 1900. Once again, the phrase was attributed to an American Indian, "Ugh, you squaw, she no long time see you: you go home mucha quick."
While Drannan's book was the first time this exact phrase appears in print, the exact origins of "long time, no see" are the subject of ongoing debate among linguists and historians.
The second widely accepted etymological explanation is that the phrase is a loan translation* from the Mandarin Chinese phrase "h?oj?u b˙jiÓn", which means exactly "long time, no see."
Eric Patridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British traces the term to the early 1900s, but says it has Asian origins and was brought back to England by members of the British Navy, who picked it up through the pidgin English used by the Chinese people they encountered.
There is a separate account that lends weight to this latter theory except that it involves members of the U.S. Navy. An excruciating letter published in Our Navy, the Standard Publication of the U.S. Navy, Volume 13 includes the following:
"Then Ah Sam, ancient Chinese tailor, familiarly known as 'Cocky,' after taking one good look at the lieutenant said, 'Ah, Lidah, you belong my velly good flend. Long time no see you handsome facee.'"
As the Applied Applied Linguistics blog points out in the debate over whether "long time no see" has Native American or Chinese origins. "The earliest written usages are all native English speakers 'reporting' the speech of non-native speakers, from about 1840-1915. ... The literature of that era is rife with stylized English attributed to non-native speakers — can we trust it?"
As the 20th century progressed, "long time no see" began to evolve from a phrase in broken English to a standard way to greet an old acquaintance. By 1920, the phrase makes it into Good Housekeeping magazine. The novelist Raymond Chandler used it in more than one of his books. In Farewell, My Lovely, Moose Malloy drolly tells his ex-girlfriend Velma, "Hiya, babe. Long time no see." And in 1949, the poet Ogden Nash published his poem "Long Time No See, Bye Now" in The New Yorker. The poem introduces us to Mr. Latour, "an illiterate boor" who "calls poor people poor instead of underprivileged."
Today, the phrase "long time no see" is so widespread as a greeting that there's nothing to indicate the term's origins, be they Native American, Mandarin Chinese or Arabic (some argue the phrase should be traced to ??? ???? ??? ?? ???, lam naraka mundhu muddah, which is Arabic for "very long time no see").
Given its ubiquitous usage in books, conversations, movies, songs and television programs, the phrase is now widely identified with American culture. So much so that it was included in Ya Gotta Know It!: A Conversational Approach to American Slang for the ESL Classroom. Long time, no see has gone from pidgin English to entrenched, American English slang in little over a century.
*Editor's Note: For those, like me, who are new to the term "loan translation, the Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines the term as "a compound, derivative, or phrase that is introduced into a language through translation of the constituents of a term in another language (as superman from German ▄bermensch)."
In 1966, psychedelic drug advocate and former Harvard professor Timothy Leary appeared on the Merv Griffin Show.
"I'm in the unfortunate situation of being about 20 years ahead of my time," Leary said. When asked how many times he'd taken LSD, he answered 311. The audience gasped.
Leary was fired for experimenting with psychedelics on undergraduates, and before long, LSD was classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it had "no known medical use." Research on the medical uses of LSD and other psychedelics came to a halt.
Today, psychedelic drug research is coming back, and scientists are picking up where Leary and other researchers left off, conducting experiments on therapeutic uses of these drugs. But the research still faces stigma, and funding is hard to get.
Renewing The Research
Stanislav Grof was one of the leading researchers on the therapeutic applications of LSD in the 1950s and '60s. He studied the effect of hallucinogens on mental disorders, including addiction.
Grof says LSD seemed to accelerate treatment of mental illness exponentially.
"It was quite extraordinary," Grof tells NPR's Arun Rath. "This was a tremendous deepening and acceleration of the psychotherapeutic process, and compared with the therapy in general, which mostly focuses on suppression of symptoms, here we had something that could actually get to the core of the problems."
But the pervasive image of LSD was that it was not an acceptable treatment.
The Schedule 1 classification of LSD and other hallucinogenic substances in 1970 was a huge blow to research, and projects ground to a halt. Grof abandoned his experiments on alcoholism.
Through the "Just Say No" campaigns of the 1980s, no researchers were willing to jump through all the hoops necessary to study stigmatized drugs.
But by the '90s, attitudes began to change, and there was a flurry of studies on psychedelic drugs.
By the 2000s, there was a small but growing research community picking up where Grof and others had left off. One area that showed promise was using hallucinogens to ease anxiety and depression in patients with cancer, like Erica Rex.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 2 in 2009," Rex says. "Even if people are happy to spout statistics at you about your chances of survival, that's not what happens in emotional or human terms. I went through the treatment and then there are some drugs that have terrible side effects."
Those side effects can also include depression, which Rex experienced. She says she became obsessed with the possibility of her death, and it was crippling. Then Rex found out she might qualify for a study on the experimental drug psilocybin, an active compound in psychedelic mushrooms.
To be determined eligible for the study, she took a series of lab tests, spent days at the hospital and then went through very intense psychological workup with some probing questions.
"It's like having five years of therapy or psychoanalysis stuffed into three days. It was exhausting," she says.
But at the end of it all, she was approved for the study. She was given two doses of the hallucinogen in two separate sessions, with trained guides sitting with her as the drugs — taken in the form of a small, purple pill — took effect.
The session began in a windowless room, with Rex wearing an eyeshade and headphones to listen to music. She experienced moments of laughter, memories of the past and emotional highs and lows. But it was not, Rex says, like a dream.
"People want it to be described as a dream, but it's not, it is actual," she says. "It is all entirely real."
Once the session was over, Rex says she spent time writing up everything that she remembered. And in the end, she says, it helped her depression.
"I'm much better," she says. "I am able to plan; I don't sit around obsessing about what the future may hold nearly as much."
A Word Of Caution
As much as much as Rex says the psychedelic experience helped her, some authorities say there are significant questions about the safety and efficacy of such treatment. Glen Hanson, a senior adviser for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says there "still needs to be an asterisk next to it."
"I don't think it's a brand new antidepressant," Hanson says. He says the main problem with hallucinogens is the lack of predictability and that they affect people in wildly different ways. Hanson says hallucinogens scramble the brain's chemistry, so if someone's brain chemistry is "already abnormal, where are you going to end up with this person?"
All those questions Rex answered before her experiment were intended to address that concern, weeding out people who might have issues. But Hanson says questions like that aren't foolproof.
Even Charles Grob of the University of California, Los Angeles — one of the few researchers actually studying medical uses of psychedelic drugs — agrees there are reasons to be cautious. He says researchers have demonstrated safety in the lab, but the real risks are in the outside world, in recreational settings.
Outside laboratory settings, he says, "naive individuals who really don't know what they're getting into take it under adverse conditions [and] often mix it with alcohol or other drugs. That's where you have the serious potential for adverse outcome."
Along with facing a tougher approval process, psychedelic drug research doesn't attract much funding, Grob says. He says national funding sources, like the National Institutes of Health, are not receptive at all. All of his support up to this point has come from private sources, which he says is difficult in a tough economy.
"Hopefully that will change and hopefully in the near future there may be some opportunity to see some progress in that arena," he says.
Despite these challenges, Grob is pressing on and has been approved to begin a new study on the drug MDMA to address social anxiety in adults on the autism spectrum. He says the country needs to recognize that the '60s are over and that Timothy Leary is gone and no longer on the stage.
"I believe we are on the threshold of some very exciting discoveries," he says, "that the health field can only benefit from."
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it a priority to eliminate corruption within the Chinese Communist Party.
"The [Communist Party] desperately wants the appearance of cracking down hard on corruption because they understand that rampant corruption is threatening the party's legitimacy," says Associated Press reporter Gillian Wong.
In a story published Sunday, Wong uncovers how that crackdown on corruption has led to another problem: abuse and torture of party officials.
"The way [the party] goes about investigating corruption tends to be so opaque — within the party, controlled entirely by the party — that it allows for these types of abuse to occur," she says.
The investigations are carried out under the government's secretive detention and disciplinary system called shuanggui.
Shuanggui is an "extra-legal form of detention, in that it operates entirely outside the scrutiny or oversight of police or courts," Wong explains.
According to her AP report, "Experts estimate at least several thousand people are secretly detained every year for weeks or months under an internal system that is separate from state justice."
Wong broke the story of a local official named Zhou Wangyen, who says he was tortured by the Communist Party. She first read his account on a Chinese lawyer's blog, and later convinced him to tell her what happened.
Zhou was a director of the land resources bureau, parceling out land for developers. In China, that position is a hotbed of corruption. Wong says it's very common for developers to bribe officials like Zhou — that's what first led authorities to him. But Zhou says he was innocent.
One morning in July 2012, he was rounded up by three men from the local party's discipline inspection commission.
"If he were arrested formally, that would have almost been a better fate for him," Wong says.
The investigators took him to a hotel where he was accused of accepting 100,000 yuan ($16,000) in bribes. They wanted him to admit it.
"They made him stand, and they surrounded him with men on four sides and just kept pushing him back and forth between them, letting him rest for only an hour a night," Wong says. "And this went on for a whole week."
Wong reports that this was just the beginning. Zhou was moved to another hotel and deprived of sleep. Eventually he was moved to the party's detention center. That's where he encountered the worst abuse.
"He found himself beaten. He was only allowed one bowl of rice a day," Wong says. "They pressed his face into water in the sink until he thought he was drowning."
The torment lasted for months. Wong says. At one point, his femur was broken in three places.
"It's one of the strongest bones in your body, and he was 47 at the time and relatively fit. He's not a frail man," she says.
The AP obtained medical records that verified his injuries.
Zhou eventually caved. Though he still maintains his innocence, Zhou signed a confession saying he'd accepted $6,600 in bribes and resigned.
When he was finally released in January 2013, he found that his options for recourse were limited.
"Police were unable to investigate this case because, basically, party matters fall outside the purview of police," Wong says.
His complaints to higher-ups in the party have so far gone unanswered. The officials that the AP reached "denied that any form of torture had taken place," Wong says. "But, after we made those calls, officials called Zhou warning him against talking to the foreign media about what happened."
Wong says it's hard to know whether Zhou's in danger now.
Boy, Snow, Bird reimagines the traditional Snow White fairy tale. Helen Oyeyemi's new novel explores beauty, envy and identity in New England in the 1950s — race and skin color shape the characters' experiences.
The wicked stepmother in this story is named Boy; the fair beauty is Snow. The birth of Snow's half-sister, Bird, reveals a long-buried family secret. Throughout the book, characters are haunted by a sense that things are not as they appear in their relationships and in the outside world.
"It's very much a story about various kinds of blindness and how they come upon us through things that have happened in our lives," Oyeyemi tells NPR's Arun Rath.
On setting the book in New England
Reading the fairy tale, the way that it's so explicit that Snow White's beauty is tied into the whiteness of her skin, there seemed a very clear connection to me with the '50s and '60s in America when there was very much a debate over the rights of a human being based on the color of their skin.
So it was very interesting to me to place this very white-seeming girl in the middle of that historical context.
On the concept of "passing" as white
It meant a boost in the social standing. It meant this curious thing where in order to be yourself and to have people leave you alone, you need to pretend to be someone else.
There's a scene in the book where [one of the characters] is talking about her love of opera and just being in the opera house and how she was quiet sure that if people knew she was black they would look at her differently and wonder what she was doing there and what she was trying to be — when really she just loved opera.
It was a very sad thing that somebody could feel that they would have to go that far just to be able to enjoy the simple things that they like.
On playing off of fairy tales
I think that they're the purest form of story that you can get. They sort of strip down human behavior to the absolute basics. So with Snow White you have this story about envy and what the consequences of those are. And I suppose that when I'm reading a fairy tale I find it easier to rescue the characters than with other stories.
And I wanted to rescue the wicked stepmother. I felt that, especially in Snow White, I think that the evil queen finds it sort of a hassle to be such a villain. It seems a bit much for her, and so I kind of wanted to lift that load a little bit.