To Ban or Not to Ban...

What is so wrong with the word "Bossy"? If you were to ask me a few weeks ago, I would have said nothing. Nothing other than the fact that I know it's not the best quality to have. How many times in my life have I been told not to be bossy? How many times have I said to my girls, "Don't be bossy"? Obviously the days have long past since girls are expected to be seen and not heard. So what is so wrong with bossy?

The idea that three women have the power to ban an actual word in the English language is preposterous. They have no actual power to get you or me or anyone to stop using an actual word. I'm a writers for Pete's sake, do you think I would actual get behind a movement to ban a word? In theory never, but I am all for any push to take the power away from a word. To disarm it so it no longer has the power to discourage or hurt. Bossy shouldn't have the negative connotations that it has always carried, and three woman can actually lead the charge to make that happen. And dare I say be "bossy" while doing it?

This conversation to ban the word bossy isn't a radical feminist idea to take away your rights as a woman or a man. It isn't to shed light on what some might say is the weaker sex. It isn't even a new equal rights movement to give us cause to burn our bras and post the burnings on Instagram. The idea behind the ban is to start the conversation. To change the idea that little girls who have take charge attitudes and CEO like initiatives are not "Bossy", but LEADERS.

I have to say that I was going to ignore this entire conversation all together. It was already cause for controversy. What's the big deal about being bossy? Then I read Sunday's Parade Magazine (the one that comes with the Sunday paper), and I found myself completely engrossed in what may be this generation's greatest conversation on empowerment. Why are girls and young women less likely to fight for leadership roles? Why are we still waiting for a woman President? Why are CEO's still predominately men? I don't have the answers to those questions. I don't think that it's a matter of being shut out, or discrimination. I don't think it's because we aren't setting up our daughters for success at home. But what happens when they leave the house? What is happening in our schools? Are girls being put into leadership roles in class? On the playground? What about in PE? Sure we have the ERA, we have Title IX, but are we, after all these years, continuing to put them into action? If you can't answer that question, and I can't answer that question, then maybe we are asking the wrong people. 

Here are two things that changed my opinion the "Ban Bossy" campaign:

For Educators: Observed dynamics in group work. Girls often complete the work of peers who slack off. If they get used to doing work without credit, they don't learn to push for recognition when they deserve it.

For All Girls: Stop apologizing. Girls ten to introduce opinions with apologies, "I'm not sure if this is right, but..."

Those two pieces were mind blowing for me. How true is this? I can remember never being the facilitator in the group but always doing all the work. And still to this day, I sometimes apologize for opinions in situations that feel outside of my comfort zone. Learned behaviors have a way of becoming bad habits. How do we change this conversation?

I understand if the crusade to ban a word makes you uncomfortable. I'm a writer, I believe in free speech for anyone. But what really makes me sad about the debate is that women are pitting themselves against each other. If you are for the ban then you are down on assertive and ambitious women. If you are against the ban, then you must be against feminism. Banning bossy isn't about taking away freedoms or making a plea for a more PC world. This is a conversation to continue to empower all women, young and old. To take the negative connotations away from a word that goes hand in hand with being ambitious and assertive. Has there ever been anything wrong with being ambitious or assertive? Then why is there something wrong with being bossy? Bossy is only powerful because we give it that power. Take it away it's negative connotations and any girl can go from "bossy" to "the Boss".

This isn't a bra burning moment. This isn't a book burning moment. This isn't a political statement. This is a movement to take a word and change the conversation. It's a chance for women like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Condoleezza Rice, and Girl Scouts CEO, Anna Maria Chavez, to open the conversation to empower girls, and build a culture of leadership for them. Girls like my two young daughters, who may very well one day be the next President of the United States. I'd say the first Woman President of the United States, but I'm sure some assertive woman with excellent management skills will beat them to the punch. Bossy girls are like that.  

I swear and promise on all things bloggy that I searched for a link to the original article.
If you find it will you please leave it in the comments so I can link back to it.
Also if you are at all interested in the Campaign to Ignore or Ban Bossy visit


  1. You really should read Maxed Out. The facts I learned about women and leadership roles was astonishing. I don't agree with banning the word bossy. I think one reason there are not more women in leadership roles is due to the amount of time it takes in those roles. We have the uterus and therefore we have to have the babies. Sitting out of the workplace race even for a small amount of time for one kid will set you back so imagine what having another child could do. It almost is impossible for a mother to work those number of hours and be a mother. The guilt would get to her and she would drop herself out of the rat race to be a mother. Until we change the culture of America and the importance of motherhood and its value in society we aren't going to make progress with getting more women in leadership roles.

  2. This isn't a blog post - this is a newspaper article. You are such a great writer - I know I say this all the time - But dang girl, you use words like magic. You are fierce leader for women here and everywhere. Your daughters will be proud.