Lots of conversation at the moment for a push to stop calling girls bossy. Beyoncé, the Scouts, everyone throwing their weight behind it. It’s a conversation I’ve had with my cousin Kylie actually. Her daughter, very similar to my niece Arleigh, is bossy. As in articulate, asks for what she wants and will continue to shove you in the right direction until she gets it. The girls, the next generation are a lot like the one that came before them.
Kylie and I, we own our bossy. We are bossy. Every ambitious, strong, demanding, direct part of us.
Bossy isn’t a dirty word to me. I am proud to be called bossy. Bossy, I always assumed, was being ‘boss like’. And I’m okay with that. I AM the boss. You should remember that when you attempt to get in my way and especially when I am in a position of leadership. I have the mug to prove it.
Don’t think I have my head in the sand there are certainly people who use bossy in a way to diminish women and girls. To make them feel that asking for what they want is a bad thing. That demanding excellence from those around them makes them unlikable and hard.
There will always be those people who will do their best to diminish women in that way. I would love to think that one day there is a balance in the community that it is no longer something to chuckle about when a girl says she wants to be Prime Minister or a boy says he wants to be a midwife. But until then, what we can do is reframe the language we use. Reframe what we consider to be male or female specific traits or roles.
: “I would tell my 10-year-old self not to be afraid to step up and say what you think. Do not be afraid to express your opinion. ”Do not be afraid to suggest things. Do not be afraid to lead.”
Yes Jane Lynch, yes. I say raise a girl who doesn’t care if she is called bossy. Raise a girl who owns the character traits associated with bossy as vital and important for someone wishing to be a leader. Someone who will, can and does lead. Words only have power to detract from you as a person if you allow them.
I certainly hope that by calling the young, strong girls around me bossy and likening it to the qualities that I myself possess that they will never associate bossy with a bad thing. I hope they associate it with me and are okay with that. Okay and empowered even. Okay and successful because of it. Beyoncé perhaps said it best when she said “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss”. And that is something to aspire to.
So enter the conversation folks, should we ban bossy or attempt to reframe the context it is used in or something somewhere in the middle?
And you better answer me, because I said so. Haha.
See the TED talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that started the movement here.