I never knew how Southern I sounded until I turned 40. By then I was a successful Southern female baby boomer, a high school principal in South Carolina with a PhD. I was doing workshops around the country on dealing with disruptive students. Once, at a workshop in San Francisco, I introduced myself. A participant then raised her hand and said, “Could you say that all over again? We just love your accent!” How charming thought my sweet Southern self! Fast forward to six months later at the same event in Montreal, Canada where another participant called the consulting firm I worked for complaining about my ignorant Southern accent. We’ll, I”ll be damned.
We Southern female Boomers are definitely an enigma. And we like it that way. An old boyfriend used to talk about the covert power of Southern women. We really are in charge but it’s an unmentionable secret. At the age of 63, I am a pro. I have mastered the art of calling the shots in a covert way. Call it manipulative, call it passive-aggressive- whatever, it works.
This blog is about me and what I have learned from the women I know-daughters, friends, and colleagues who as Southern women have mastered the art of covert power. We have lived and learned and most of all, added to the fun and mystery of life in the South. Here I reveal our secrets. Just don’t tell Bubba.
Please feel free to respond and to disagree. I welcome discussion. We Southern women have been taught how to tell people to go to hell with a smile on our faces and a song in our hearts
Anna T. McFadden, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership at Western Carolina University. A native of South Carolina, she is a former high school English teacher, high school principal, professor and university administrator. Now retired, she lives with her husband and Bengal cat in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
- (2004). McFadden A. & Smith. P. The social construction of educational leadership: Southern Appalachian ceilings. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. New York.
- (2004). McFadden A & Cooper, K. Leave no angry child behind: The ABC’s of anger management for grades k-12. Chapin, SC: Youthlight, Inc.
- (1996). Hicks, A. Speak softly and carry your own gym key: A female high school principal’s guide to survival. Thousand Oaks, California: a joint publication of The National Association of Secondary School Principals and Corwin Press (in second printing)
- Hicks, A. (2000). Scarlett leads the schoolhouse: Does being Southern matter? A study in progress. Advancing Women in Educational Leadership. 3(2)
Special thanks to friends and former colleagues Neil Torda and Christie Osborne who designed this blog.