A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman We've been looking for someone who can write like this. Can it be that she was right under our noses all along?
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – It has come to my attention that this magazine is searching for a female columnist, a woman in business who can write about her world, every two weeks, with perspicacity and verve. FORTUNE's editors have gone so far as to use the phrase "a female Stanley Bing" to describe what the columnist's voice might ideally be. After considerable soul-searching, I'd like to apply for the job. It's my humble conviction that I possess all the qualities this magazine is looking for in an applicant, except, perhaps, for the obvious one. Is that sole criterion enough to outweigh all others? I think not!

Let's look at my qualifications:

I'm nervous about the way people perceive me. This is a notorious female characteristic, except in women who don't possess it, and those women tend to be perceived as masculine.

I'm touchy about my weight. I have been my whole life. I never get to eat a candy bar because it would immediately add two inches to my waistline. Other kids with naturally puny physiques could scarf down a whole bag of Ruffles while I was staring at my allotted pouch of Melba toast. I've known levels of self-denial that would shame a supermodel. I believe this uneasy relationship with food will set me up for a genuinely female perspective on a wide range of social issues.

I drink a lot of white wine. So do most women I know.

I worry about what to wear every day and always try to look my best. Actually, I'd be a lot more comfortable in an old pair of stretch pants and a paint-speckled T-shirt, but every day I pour myself into a carefully selected outfit that makes me look attractive--though certainly not tarted up in any way. I'm particularly interested in neckwear and select my tie with the care a woman would devote to choosing just the right scarf to go with her power pinstripes. I have those too.

I'm afraid of men. They're big. They're sweaty. They laugh too loud and show their teeth. I've always hated locker rooms where they snap wet towels at each other and laugh at geeky, lumpy kids like me. I feel like an alien visitor on a golf course and around most sporting goods. I know the feeling of being on the outs with manly, smelly men--and yet wanting to be liked by them too. I also know the thrill of pounding them into anchovy paste now that my business card is bigger and stronger than theirs. Take that, boys!

I don't much trust women, either. Why should I? They're just as ambitious, vain, and potentially lethal as men are. In some ways many of them are worse, because they have a longer way to go and even more up against them. You can't be too careful around them is what I'm saying.

I love gossip. I adore standing around the Xerox machine kibitzing with the rest of the girls about who's in, who's out, who's boffing whom, and so forth.

I can be incredibly mean when I have to be. I begin each day with the taste of gunmetal in my mouth. Anybody who gets in my way before I put my executive face on had better watch out. I'm capable of equal unkindness to both sexes, with a possible bias toward inflicting the most difficulty on my own. You need this kind of attitude to do a column for a magazine like this one.

I hide my resentment behind a patina of civilization. People like us can't just go mouthing off and telling others what we think whenever we want to. We have to couch our unacceptable feelings behind a mask of--well, whatever is called for. I smile when I have to. I look thoughtful when I must. I appear judicious when called to give my considered opinion, even when I have none. I am certainly as insincere as any woman out there.

In fact, I have a completely fake persona! I've already invented one fictitious personality--not counting the one I use at the office every day. Why can't I invent a second? And why can't that second be of a different gender? I know people who do it on the Internet all the time, and they tell me it's a lot of fun.

I view myself as an oppressed minority. There is, after all, only one of me. The Man never gave me a leg up. I had to fight for every scrap and morsel I ever got. But I don't care. It made me tough. It made me ornery. It made me view every downtrodden individual as my brother or sister. We shall not be moved!

I can convert my anger into humor, and even pathos, when necessary. Like all oppressed minorities, I have learned to transform my antisocial feelings and thoughts into ones more acceptable to Charley. I have also been forced to siphon my natural abilities into a line of work that is unthreatening to mainstream society. Unable to play ball or dance like other entertainers who have risen out of their milieux, I have turned to the task of making people laugh and/or cry. That kind of transference will be invaluable when I have to write this column from a woman's point of view.

I can do the job. Can any other woman out there say the same? I've been doing it, year after year after year. I've learned to heave my load against the blank wall of fate, calm and secure in the knowledge that everything will work out fine--days after the final deadline has come and gone! I can write in airports, on trains, in the living room at three in the morning, churning out words the way a caterpillar spits out his pupa. You name the space--I'll fill it! Can you say the same?

I don't want anybody else to have it! Give it to me! All right, I admit it. I'm jealous of other people's talents and achievements! I want it all--and I want it now! Is that so bad? Don't hate me because I'm competitive!

That's about it. I realize this will not be a popular move with genderists of all stripes. It's this kind of thinking, I believe, that unjustly excluded me from this very magazine's recent list of the Most Powerful Women in Business. That really stung me. Why shouldn't I have been there? I'm very powerful. My position is superior to that of many of the women who made it onto the list. All right--I'm not a woman, that much is obvious, but aside from that, I would have made that list. Instead, I didn't. Don't think that didn't set my jaw for the next battle.

And here it is. I have all the attributes necessary for success in this venture. I think I've proven that. Every applicant has one flaw or other that management is required to overlook, right? Is mine more fundamental than anyone else's?

I hope you--and the management of this magazine--will consider my proposal with the seriousness it deserves.

Thank you.

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real fortune 500 company he'd rather not name.