Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has a line in her book that states “I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills.” As you have probably heard by now, her Lean In organization and the Girl Scouts of America have teamed up with various celebrities and some other well-known female figures to urge us to ban the use of the word bossy. As part of their “public service” campaign they have released a short ad featuring these women lecturing us about how they were called bossy and other names as children and therefore we should “ban bossy.” The “Ban Bossy – I’m Not Bossy. I’m the Boss” video has gone viral while stirring up some controversy along the way. It has now been viewed over 2,250,000 times on Youtube.
Playing a prominent role in this campaign is the pop star diva Beyonce. It would appear that the Girl Scouts believe that Beyonce is an appropriate role model for impressionable young girls and someone who should be emulated and looked up too. That is disappointing, and the fact that they cooperating with her on any level should raise more than a few eyebrows. Any objective observer would be hard pressed to not point out that Beyonce apparently believes that empowering women not only calls for the banning of certain words but also the constant sexual objectification of females and dressing up like a stripper at every opportunity. Whoring yourself out just because “sex sells” is hardly edifying to the female gender and is worthy of condemnation. Yet here she is, front and center, in the Ban Bossy ad campaign sponsored by an organization supposedly charged with the mission of building the character, self-esteem, and self-respect of young girls.
For the Girl Scouts and Lean In to showcase her as a spokesman in their campaign is pathetic at best. One of the last people we should be encouraging our daughters to pattern their lives, thoughts, actions, and attitudes after is her. Yet our little Feminist friends apparently have no problem with that. Influencing millions of little girls to sexualize themselves at a very young age is far more damaging than calling someone bossy, and recruiting a spokesperson who is married to a man who routinely calls women “bitches and hoes” just smacks of idiocy and hypocrisy on every level. Conveying the message that a girl has to portray herself as a shameless sexual plaything to gain fame, success, and attention is far more detrimental to the female gender in general, and to entire upcoming generations of young women, than one ten-year old girl telling another to quit being bossy on the playground. And we wonder why vast numbers of young women have self-esteem, eating disorders, and body image issues in our culture.
In the Ban Bossy video Beyonce tells us that “Girls are less interested in leadership than boys,” while Lynch adds, “And that’s because they worry about being called bossy.”
Really, that’s why? Are you really telling me that the fear of being called bossy has somehow stymied generations of women? How come I’m not buying that? And so what if a somewhat smaller percentage of “girls are less interested in leadership than boys.” Is that the end of the world? Are we really to believe that there must be some sort of contest and competition between the genders when it comes to the percentages of each in perceived leadership positions? Or is this really perhaps just another attempt to fuel the fires of conflict and tension between them by those who don’t really care much for the male gender to begin with? These are questions worth pondering.
Is it so far-fetched to fathom that maybe males and females aren’t actually exactly the same and perhaps, just perhaps, it is just a natural trait for a majority of both sexes to see males as leaders more often than females? And if so, is that really such an inherently awful idea? We are not born as ‘clean slates’ but already have a vast network of natural inclinations and predispositions already inside of us as we enter the world. That is not to say that culture and society doesn’t play a significant part in who we are and what we become, but to dismiss basic genetic factors and behavioral traits when it comes to gender is both foolish and naive. It’s probably not patriarchy and misogyny they should be complaining about here, but basic biology. Perhaps we should spend less time fighting against it and more time learning to understand it.
So what is the definition of this particular word “bossy” that is so bad that has caused such a stir and must be banned from our collective vocabulary? Below are a couple of different definitions that a quick internet search was kind enough to provide me with.
adjective: bossy; comparative adjective: bossier; superlative adjective: bossiest
.fond of giving people orders; domineering.
given to ordering people about; overly authoritative; domineering.
1880–85, Americanism; boss1 + -y1
Synonyms: highhanded, officious, dictational; overbearing, abrasive.
In the spirit of consensus, we should all agree that being bossy is not synonymous with true leadership and that it really shouldn’t be. And that being ambitious is not the same as being bossy, stubborn, or pushy either as is implied in the ad campaign. No one really and truly likes a bossy person, whether they are a woman or a man. One gets the distinct feeling that some of the women involved in this feminist push to remind us that we shouldn’t dare criticize a woman no matter how she speaks or acts may have actually deserved to be labeled bossy in the first place. Perhaps they were called bossy for a reason.
There are numerous and far more offensive terms for those suffering from attitudinal problems when it comes to their interactions with other people, and bossy is probably one of the least objectionable of them. Several unprintable ones easily spring to mind. Some are gender specific and some not. And all are far more hurtful and theoretically damaging than bossy. Where are the campaigns against them?
When was the last time you actually heard someone use the word bossy anyway? The more you study this supposed crisis of “bossy labeling” the shallower it sounds.
In a world full of truly serious problems one is hard pressed to believe that somewhere out there one elementary age girl is so devastatingly damaging another ornery elementary age girl’s psyche by calling her bossy that we now need to have a national campaign complete with ads, websites, pledges, celebrity endorsements, and the whole rigamarole that goes along with something like this. All so we can ban a word of dubious guilt and reputation. One has the feeling that some people have far too much time on their hands and that their priorities are in all the wrong places.
Tell the women of the Middle East or North Africa about the pressing need to ban the word bossy and they’ll tell you some interesting stories about rampant female circumcisions, beatings, and honor killings that will make your skin crawl. The trivial nit-picking of Western Feminists that do little more than drive additional wedges between the genders and make mountains out of mole hills is just baffling at times. Do they really have nothing better to do with their time or money?
I decided to do a bit of field research on the subject. I interviewed my own extremely outgoing, charismatic, and full of life, ten-year-old daughter over breakfast. Without telling her why or what I was up to, I asked her if anybody ever called anyone else bossy at her school. She said, “no, not really.” She then became fairly animated and excitedly said, “But there are some girls who should be called bossy. They are always trying to tell everyone else what to do.”
The fact is that the word bossy is a term that we use to describe what is often very boorish behavior and even borderline bullying. Labeling actions and making the attempt to curtail certain raw behaviors among children is in fact a civilizing notion and one that is often, but not always, rightly used to help modify unattractive behavior. It is how we self-police in a civilized society and it helps us to smooth the rough edges off of each other as we can learn to get along and interact in acceptable ways. I have had the opportunity to observe and even work for some bossy women (and men) on occasion. While they may have inspired fear and apprehension with their actions and way of handling themselves, their overall demeanor did not inspire respect or loyalty from their employees. It was not true leadership. My daughter was right; bossiness is not attractive in any form whether it is on the playground or in the workplace.
I, admittedly, have little patience with the modern-day Feminist movement in general and the fact that they have infiltrated and hijacked the Girl Scouts of America to continue to promote their twisted views of gender and society is irksome. I’m tired of the Thought Police and their manufactured outrages of the week. And as far as Beyonce goes, I have three daughters of my own and they deserve better than what this sick and gutter-licking popular culture has to offer.
Let us also not forget that the Left is always trying to ban something, whether they are large sodas or guns or a word they don’t particularly like. It’s always all about controlling the thoughts and actions of others through force, intimidation, or guilt.
In the end it really comes down to this. If you don’t really want to be called bossy, then don’t be bossy. If you are acting bossy then don’t complain when others call you out on it. Otherwise, you just come off looking kind of silly and maybe a bit bossy as well. Always take responsibility for your own behavior and conduct yourself properly at all times with self-restraint, wisdom, and discernment before running about trying to modify the behaviors of others. Just remember, you aren’t the boss of me.
David Huntwork is a conservative activist, blogger, and columnist and the proud father of three daughters. The son, grandson, and great-grandson of Ministers of the Gospel he brings a unique blended background of theology and ideology to the great debates of the day. He believes that Faith, Family, and Freedom is the formula for success and the key to a good life and a healthy nation. David blogs at TheConservativeCitizen.com. You can contact him at Davehuntwork@juno.com.