Should We Ban Bossy?
Recently Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg did something that makes little sense to me. She called for a ban on the word bossy. She claims that this word is used to belittle girls and women; therefore, the offending word must be banned in the name of feminism.
When I first heard about this, I was confused. What did the word bossy ever do to anybody? It seems odd to place the blame on a word instead of the people using the word. There are many words that change meaning depending on the use. And these can be used positively or negatively.
I’ve never really pondered the word bossy before and asking us to ban it seems like a big waste of my time. There’s nothing wrong with being bossy. I’ve been called bossy and plenty of other words to my face, and I’m sure more times behind my back than I know about. But I don’t care. In fact, I’m sure most people who have been called bossy aren’t about to let a label bring them down. And I say people because let’s get real, being called bossy is not exclusive to females. Males are called bossy just as often, and it’s not just men using the word. So when someone tries to put a negative spin on a word like bossy in the name of feminism, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and makes feminism take a step back. Bossy is an empowering word. It’s root is boss. But vilifying words does absolutely nothing to further feminism, or anti-bullying, or any other cause. All it does is use heavy-handed techniques to shift the blame from those who label to the label itself.
So we all stop using the word bossy. What’s next? Shall we ban the word aggressive, zealot, persistent, tenacious? Instead of throwing money and countless hours to banning a five-letter word because someone decided it’s now a four-letter word, shouldn’t we be devoting those resources to raise the self-esteem of girls and boys so that when a label is placed on them, they are strong enough to rise above the perceived negativity?
I, for one, don’t mind being called bossy. Why? Because I am. I’m also a know-it-all. I even earned the nickname of “the Growler” in one of my first jobs after graduating from college. Was I horrified by these labels? Not in the least. I don’t derive my self-esteem from what others think of me. It comes from within because I know who I am, what I can do, where I’m going, and how to get there. I don’t want special treatment because I’m a woman, and I’ve never considered that being a woman put me at a disadvantage. Ever.
So call me bossy. I, for one, will take it as a compliment.
I asked my fellow Divas to weigh in on this issue as well. Here’s what they had to say about Sandberg’s call to ban bossy.
The banning of a word is ridiculous. To me, it’s the same as banning books. Books doesn’t harm people; words don’t necessarily harm people. People harm people. Attempting to create a movement to ban bossy, a word so-called “feminists” think is degrading, is ten steps back for the feminist movement that paved the way for what women have achieved today.
Banning bossy is discrediting what every woman tries so hard to accomplish—equality. Let me explain why. Being bossy is not lying down and be pushed around. Being bossy is a woman who knows what she wants and gets it. Being bossy is women’s power over any man. Being bossy is not fighting against a label but stepping beyond it and working even harder than the guy next to you. If anything, being bossy is a trigger for woman to hold their head high and be proud, not feel beaten down.
People that think it’s degrading and sexist are only fueling more woman and girls to feel victimized rather than empowering them.
Write Divas is a business built, run, and made a success by women. We are all partners and all bosses. I take pride in being labeled bossy; it lets me know that I’m doing something right. If that threatens any man, so be it. At least I know I’m standing for me and women around me.
So I read the article, but I’m still not quite sure why they’re trying to ban the use of a word in the name of feminism. What’s wrong with bossy? I’m bossy all the time. It’s part of my nature. Some people—notice I didn’t say women, I said people—are hard-wired to lead. Some are not. But shouldn’t we encourage our children, girl or boy, to take charge?
I don’t understand the emphasis on a word. It’s a word. There are worse words to focus on. I thought it was interesting that bossy is defined as: inclined to domineer. If I stop and think about the meaning of the word as it exists in my household, I wouldn’t have defined it in those terms, but rather something like “inclined to take charge without granted authority.” Maybe there’s a negative connotation associated with the term that I’m missing.
Either way, it’s still just a word. And rather than focus on the word, why not teach our children how to be strong and independent so a word doesn’t affect them? Or give them a larger vocabulary bag to reach into so they can find a substitute if bossy doesn’t fit the bill?
When I heard about the campaign to ban the word “bossy,” I sighed. I’ve had a love affair with words for most of my life, and I cannot stand
this type of frivolous word banning. And what drives this proposed ban? Fear that this word might discourage girls from taking up leadership roles?
A word, word, as innocuous as bossy is going to hold them back? Hmm… Time for a reality check. If you aspire to a leadership role, you’ll need to be capable of facing discouragement, unfair treatment, blackballing, failure, slander, etc. and turning it into the motivation needed to succeed. The truth is overcoming people’s cruel words is just the first step on a long and very rocky road to success. And what’s more, it’s necessary.
When is it that feminism morphed from a crusade to give women equal status with their male counterparts and freedom from sexual harassment into a demand for special treatment? And I think that’s what offends me most about all of this. Such a mandate implies that as women we’re somehow lesser and need to have allowances made for us so we can be a success. Thank you, but no.
I don’t see words as roadblocks, and I never have.
Call me bossy. I’ll own it because that’s what I am—a boss—and I have been for a long time. Call me names. Tell me I can’t do something because I’m a girl. I’ll tread your words, insults, and prejudice under my feet and plant the flag of my success on top of it all.
Perhaps instead of banning words, we should put our efforts into inculcating our daughters with the traits they will need to be true leaders: courage, class, intelligence, authority, diligence, wisdom, stubbornness, and self-confidence.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel a strong need to buy a T-shirt with a big, glittery BOSSY embossed on the front because I’m taking back this word. I’m turning the negative connotation into something positive. And I hope you will as well.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the move to “Ban Bossy”? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you decide to blog about it, include a link. We welcome all opinions on this topic. 🙂