One of the most recent feminist campaigns to help put girls on the same playing field as boys, led by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, and her non-profit organization LeanIn.org, is drawing up a lot of support, as well as some opposition.
The campaign is called Ban Bossy, and hopes to eliminate the use of the word ‘bossy,’ which is often used to describe girls and women in an unflattering way. It’s true, boys who act bossy aren’t called it, but rather referred to as strong or determined, while girls get stuck with bossy, a word defined as ‘overly authoritative’ and ‘domineering.’
Any campaign designed to empower girls or women is okay by me, but I do think there is a slight problem with Ban Bossy. Without bossy, we’d like to think that girls, like boys, will be described as strong, determined and leaders. Unfortunately, those making the descriptions could choose words much more offensive than bossy, like bitchy.
How about instead of banning bossy, we embrace it? Bossy can be a good thing. It shows that girls want to lead, to be in charge and to make something happen. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
I’m guessing the famous women who have embraced the Ban Bossy campaign including Beyonce, Condoleeza Rice, Jennifer Garner, and Sandberg herself, all include some form of bossy on their personal list of character traits. They’re their own bosses. They didn’t get to the top by letting others take the reins.
We want little girls to raise their hands and speak up, and to feel comfortable doing so as they reach middle school, high school and beyond, just like the Bossy Ban calls for. We want girls to have high self-esteem, a crucial proclamation of self-love that will make their lives work better. We want to encourage girls to become leaders.
So whether we ban bossy or encourage it, I hope we can all agree to do our parts ensuring our girls grow into successful women who are willing to follow their hearts and dreams and to live their lives to the fullest.