Well, Beyonce continues to live up to her nickname. Queen Bee speaks and everybody listens.
Lately, my newsfeed has been buzzing with posts about “Ban Bossy,” a campaign started by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and backed by Bee herself. According to the campaign’s website, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’” This type of language, according to Sheryl Sandberg, discourages girls from seeking leadership roles, and “Ban Bossy” aims to address this issue by cutting the word ‘bossy’ right out of our vocabulary.
I’m sorry (not sorry) Beyonce, but I cannot support that.
First of all, I think it’s ridiculous to discuss banning specific words from our vocabulary. The word ‘bossy’ exists for a reason and, contrary to what “Ban Bossy” supporters believe, it can be used to describe both sexes. Take this boy for example:
This video, like the “Ban Bossy” campaign, went viral this week as well. It was picked up by The Huffington Post and TODAY and it made me want to punt my laptop off of my roof. This, my friends, is what bossy looks like. This little shit is not standing up to his mother in a respectful way. He isn’t being some type of leader. He’s being a smackable little punk. Even schoolchildren understand that.
Kids don’t call each other bossy because they raise their hands in class. They call each other bossy because they bark out orders on the playground. So, Beyonce, why don’t we focus a little less on taking away the word ‘bossy’, and a little more on teaching children the difference between being ‘bossy’ and being a ‘leader’. Being a leader requires both confidence and cooperation. Being bossy requires pretentiousness and a disregard for others. Example: George Washington was a leader. Children that tell you what to do and say without a please or thank you are being bossy. Let’s encourage little girls (and boys) to stop acting like little divas and start being respectful organizers and role models.
The second part of the “Ban Bossy” campaign that irks me is the idea that girls should be taught that they’re at some disadvantage in society simply because of their gender. Placing emphasis on the external factors that influence a girl’s success may be more detrimental to that girl’s ambition and morale than the word ‘bossy’ itself. Campaigns like “Ban Bossy” encourage girls to shift their locus of control from internal to external factors. The more that girls are told their chances at achieving success are affected by other’s presumptions of girl’s abilities and personal attributes, the more they will deemphasize internal factors affecting success. Rather than telling young girls that they are at some sort of disadvantage because society feels they are bossy or inept at certain subjects, why don’t we encourage them to believe in their leadership potential, realize that they have control over their own acheivements, and maintain high expectations for themselves? Oh man, that may actually cause girls to take action rather than sitting around waiting for society to change!
I understand what LeanIn.Org is attempting to do here, but I’m not sure we should all be jumping on the “Ban Bossy” bandwagon. Let’s keep bossy around for a while and stop teaching little girls that society is systematically holding them down. Go forth and lead, ladies! Your vagina is irrelevant. Stay strong, be kind, and keep on truckin.