Is Bossy The New B-word?

Ban Bossy

The B-word: all of us have been on the giving and receiving end of it. The chapter president won’t allow you to go to formal. The recruitment chair says you’re all worse than the Kindergarteners she student teaches. Your big orders you stay away from the bad boy type you always end up with in bed. The house chair tells you to clean up your act (and your room) or you’ll have to live on the street next semester. You get called to Standards AGAIN. Sometimes, you just want to say, “Can you stop being so BOSSY?”

Okay, so in reality we haven’t used this word since, like, the third grade, but it has the same connotation as the bolder, more grown-up version. We typically use it to describe a girl who is pushy or controlling, and it can be equated to the well-known male counterpart of “being a dick.” Lately, though, this word has received more and more attention. A partnership between Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, and Girl Scouts USA started a campaign to ban the word bossy.

“But sometimes the fear of being called ‘bossy’—a word that carries a stigma, especially for women who first had it hurled at them as girls—can keep ambitious women from taking the next step in their careers.”

Sandberg first gained momentum in the feminist community after releasing her book “Lean In,” which encourages women to ask for what they deserve, close the gender gap, and stop drawing back from a career in order to start a family. The idea of banning the new B-word came from personal childhood stories of being called bossy.

“’We too were called bossy as girls. Decades later, the word still stings, and we remember the sentiments it evoked: Keep your voice down. Don’t raise your hand. Don’t take the lead. If you do, people won’t like you,’ Sandberg and her co-founder Rachel Thomas write in a post on LinkedIn.”

But before we all go jumping on the “Ban Bossy” bandwagon, can we just take a look at what the word really means?

boss•y, adj.
1. fond of giving people orders; domineering.
synonyms: overbearing, imperious, high-handed, authoritarian, dictatorial

Now, compare that definition to Forbes’ list of the top 10 leadership skills: honesty, ability to delegate, communication, a sense of humor, confidence, commitment, a positive attitude, creativity, intuition, and ability to inspire.

Hmm, that’s funny. I don’t see any connection between the words “bossy” and “leadership” at all–probably because there isn’t one. Eliminating the newly proclaimed B-word from children’s dictionaries isn’t going to solve the problem of gender equality. In fact, some girls deserve being called bossy. If a girl is being a bitch, sometimes the best thing to do is let her know she’s being a bitch. Honesty is the best policy, right? Try eliminating pushy and controlling attitudes and replacing them with mature, positive, and proactive mindsets, and now we’re talking. We don’t necessarily need to take away from our vocabularies, but we do need to add to them. Let’s teach girls to be persuasive, not pushy. Let’s show them how to delegate, not dictate. Let’s create women of confidence, not cockiness. Let’s encourage girls to energize, not enervate. Let’s demonstrate what it means to be a badass chick, not a bossy bitch.

Beyonce said it herself during the campaign: “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”

[via The Huffington Post]

Image via Ban Bossy

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premed donna

Who said you can't be smart and funny? When I'm not writing for TSM, you can find me studying into oblivion, downing a bottle of chardonnay, and/or sobbing for reasons I have yet to understand. All hate fan mail can be sent to

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