What is wrong with the word “bossy”? I don’t know, but the Girl Scouts, Jennifer Garner, Beyoncé and others have recently taken up a war on the word “bossy”.
When I was a little girl, my parents used to joke that I was either going to be the dictator of a small nation or the CEO of a large company. Yep, you guessed it – I was bossy! But, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was just an independent woman at 4 years old. I would tell my siblings where to go and what to do. I would lead and they would follow.
Being bossy wasn’t a bad thing back then, and it’s still not.
Throughout grade school girls get called all kinds of names, but seriously, what little girl cares about being called “bossy”. I, for one, never cared. I owned it – like a boss.
The words that we should be targeting are the ones that degrade women, their bodies, and cuts to the depths of a woman’s soul. Let’s talk about “chubby”, “ugly”, “stupid”, “weird”, or worse. The older girls get, the worse the name-calling. High school and college is more like – “slut”, “skank”, “ho”. Even pop culture promotes worse words than “bossy”. Words matter, but the least of our problems is the word “bossy”.
We should ban the words that truly degrade women and little girls, and push them to be anxious, stifled, and self-conscious. We should work to honor girls with our words and cherish them, not beat them down with negative words that rumble to their core. Our culture has fostered a generation of insecure women and this is what is holding women back, not the word “bossy”.
In some ways, being called bossy is actually empowering. We want little girls to be strong, independent women, who believe that they can be a light that shines in the world.
Nearly every woman in the #banbossy video said they had been called “bossy” at some stage in their life – and look where they are. They’re all famous. I doubt that being called “bossy” held them back in any way. My parents called me “bossy” and I can tell you from first-hand experience, there hasn’t been a moment that being called “bossy” kept me from aspiring to great things. In fact, it probably helped me.
The ad says “by middle school, girls are less interested in being in leadership than boys”. The problem here is not the word “bossy”… we are the problem.
The ad is right in asserting that we need to encourage girls to lead. We need to encourage young women to become strong leaders and to stand up for what they believe in. We need to raise our girls to be confident young women, who aspire to great things. Sometimes this may even mean being a little “bossy”.
Instead of banning the word “bossy”, we should work to instill courage, confidence and an understanding that every women is beautiful and talented in her own way. This is the way to change the culture. This is the way to encourage young women to be leaders. Not by banning the word “bossy”, but by revitalizing the way that young girls and women see themselves.