My 30 second caffeine gulping this morning coincided with Good Morning America’s preview of a new campaign to end the word “bossy.” Female celebrities and politicians and businesswomen flashed across the screen and the GMA anchor teased the segment that would land somewhere between my explanation of the necessity of toothpaste and why two socks are always better than one.
I kept thinking about this new campaign because there had to be more to the story and since more to the story would likely air while I was sandwiched in the kindergarten drop-off line, I had to resort to Google after I got home.
The CliffNotes version for people living under the same rock as myself is this: Huge forces have joined together to stop the use of the word bossy because it’s condescending to girls everywhere. We should teach them to be leaders and not stop them from being the boss.
I get this. I do. Women and men should be treated equal in leadership roles. We should be paid the same, in salary and respect.
But do we need a campaign for this? Do millions of dollars need to be spent on a website and a social media campaign and celebrity endorsements?
I can think of so many words that should be banned. I’m sorry but bossy just isn’t one of them. I get that it has an annoying connotation and it’s generally used in relation to girls not boys but really can we pick one of the ten gazillion other causes out there and divide the celebrities and money among them?
Let’s end the trafficking of girls and decrease their suicide rate and pour even more effort into stopping them from being harassed at school and home and work. We don’t need a new campaign. We don’t need to shine a light on something else that is cracking. We need to fix what is already broken.
My girls might be bosses some day or they might not. They might need to work on being part of a team more so than how to lead one. They might head into job interviews without a thought that they could be discriminated against because they are female. I hope they do.
Somehow, I don’t think we will look back at a shift in how women are treated and thank Beyonce or that day in history when we banned the word bossy. Just like every other cause that doesn’t demand a massive media undertaking, this one will fade away but the money spent will already be gone.
And the causes that truly need it will still be waiting in the wings. Maybe we start with basic human rights first like food and shelter and safety. Then we can work on the truly offensive and demeaning words that are entrenched in our society. If those needs are met and those words are banned then we can worry about who’s bossing around who and if we can remove the word from my kindergartener’s vocabulary.
My suggestions might sound bossy and you can even tell me that. I won’t be offended.
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Great to read your piece on Sandberg’s latest Ban Bossy campaign. It’s fun to read through the different perspectives on the BonBon Break website. I agree with you in many ways, we don’t need this new, simplified and sophomoric campaign. We need to teach girls and boys what REAL leadership skills are (I think we often teach girls to be bossy as a way to get ahead). There are major other campaigns that are working and need more of our attention as you mention. Happy to be connected to your work!
Amen. All really valid, important points.
Also, what will I say instead “stop being bossy” Or “Stop bossing your brother around?” I don’t think my saying that will stop anyone from taking on a leadership role at some point. But, it might bring a little peace into the house once in a while.
Susan Maccarelli says
So true! I had seen the ban the bossy posts but had not read one yet until this one. I can’t believe that celebs are actually getting behind this. Weird. It will be a thing of the past in 2 weeks.
Meredith - The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears says
Exactly. People are so hyper-sensitive about everything these days that we are literally CREATING issues that wouldn’t otherwise exist. It is exhausting. And expensive. This is great.
Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 says
I was confused when I heard about it. I never thought of “bossy” as sexist. I’ve called my son out for being bossy plenty of times. There’s a definite difference between being a leader and being bossy, and it’s not whether you sit or stand to pee.
Oh, I whole heartedly agree. Sometimes I think that people genderize things for the sheer sensationalism of it. Have I called my oldest child bossy? You bet I have! And guess what? He’s a boy. And I would say the same thing to a girl. I want my kids (gender neutral) to learn good leadership skills, but I also want them to play nice with others. We can have both.
Kathy at kissing the frog says
It’s exhausting constantly trying to figure out what words we can and can’t say or what terms have been changed and deemed acceptable. The contradicting messages are confusing, too. If we want certain words not to be used, then why are we still using them in t.v. shows and music and movies? Why are we still portraying characters like this? I agree – I think the money and effort and star power need to go to more important causes.
Yes! Agreed! I love your take on this. I kept wondering, What’s the big deal. Teach our kids how to lead appropriately and don’t make a big deal out THIS word.
Amy - Funny Is Family says
This is the perfect, tempered, reasonable reaction to a “meh” issue. I have nothing to add. You said it all.