Banning Bossy

Hello, World.

This week I wrote an article for my school newspaper about the #BANBOSSY movement, and I had fun writing it so I wanted to share!
There are many terms used to label young girls and grown women, but some of less popular terms include, aggressive, intense, ambitious, competitive, and bossy. Any woman who is driven and knows exactly what she wants has probably been called any of these terms, and though they aren’t necessarily negative qualities, too many people attach a negative connotation to them. When young girls are playing and usually take the leadership role or come up with new ideas, they are labeled “bossy,” as if their actions are incorrect. Women in the workforce know that if they need something done, and begin delegating tasks, suddenly the word “bossy” begins to circulate in the office when speaking about them.

I’ve had many nicknames in my lifetime, and one of the most popular from my childhood was “Miss Bossy Pants.” I never intended to push people around or tell them what to do, but I have the tendency to be particular, and pay attention to detail. The fact that being driven is equated to being “pushy” is rather frustrating as a young woman who’s life plan currently involves finishing my bachelor’s degree, continuing to law school, and eventually holding a partner position at a law firm. Why should women feel like if they go after what they want they are being too aggressive? If we consider the other side of this coin, we see men who are told everyday to be aggressive and succeed through whatever means necessary. Ironically, it is typically men who label women as ‘bossy,’ but I think that’s just a degrading mechanism to avoid admitting the men are just intimidated by women’s power and abilities.

A movement to ban bossy is making waves, and many female celebrities are on board including Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner, and Sheryl Sandberg. Last year, Sandberg, who works as the COO of Facebook, published the book Lean In: Women, Work, and Will to Lead, addressing some of the hardships about being a successful woman. The interesting thing about a ban bossy movement is that some people think it’s silly, while others think it is empowering. Why is such a small word so important you may be asking yourself? Because like all words in any language, it is the connotations words carry that cause difficulty for the people the words are attached to. Therefore, since bossy seems to imply an unlikable quality, it shouldn’t be used to label women who are, in the words of Beyoncé, not bossy, but simply the boss.

We are well into the 21st century, and I think it’s time to accept that women are becoming more and more successful, they are CEOs, and they are world-altering leaders. While some women do feel that being called bossy is not degrading, and are virtually unbothered by the label, others find it harsh and untrue. I know that I am passionate, I am aggressive, and I am competitive, but I don’t think any of those things hinder my success so long as I remain respectful. Bossy wouldn’t be such a problem if it didn’t carry such a negative connotation. In the past, words have been banned because they were deemed offensive, so why not ban bossy? Start using descriptors like passionate, successful, or driven to describe women, and not bossy or aggressive to describe women. Women are leaders, they are bosses, and they are hardworking, but they are not ‘bossy.’ Just remember that if you’re going to call a woman bossy, she may take that to mean she intimidates you, which says more about your character than her leadership style. Join the movement, #banbossy.


Callie Leigh

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