Should We Ban Bossy?

Should We Ban Bossy?

[Reposted from my article “Diva Chat: Should We Ban Bossy?” by Janine Savage on Write Divas.]


divachatRecently 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.

If you’d like to read what my business partners thought of the Ban Bossy campaign, you can read the rest of the article “Diva Chat: Should We Ban Bossy?” on the Write Divas website.

What do you think of the move to “Ban Bossy”? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If you decide to blog about it, include a link. I welcome all opinions on this topic.


2 comments on “Should We Ban Bossy?

  1. I agree largely with this post. I think where the campaign failed was that it focused too much on the word so that the underlying message it was trying to get across became lost somehow. Rather than ban the word we just need to spend more time and money on education from a young age so that women and men alike are encouraged to go for that promotion if they believe they have the skillset to do the job.

    • I agree. If real change is to happen, it needs to be through education and helping our children overcome the labels and learn not to label others as well. Thanks for your comments!

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