Well you may have heard by now that there is a movement (complete with star-studded Internet Video and all) to “ban” the word bossy. Hmmmm. Really? OK, there are several things about this that make me cringe. First reaction is that it reminded me of one of those bad ideas reminiscent of a forced collaborative project by a bunch of low performers desperate to gain visibility within their organization – or something to come out of one of the “Celebrity Apprentice” challenges. Nonetheless, it is all over the Innerwebs:
I get the feeling “bossy” was not the word they originally wanted to ban (or at least I hope.) I wasn’t aware that the term “bossy” was always meant to be derogatory. Of course, I’m a guy so I will accept that ignorance. However, as the father of two daughters, I would much prefer my girls to be “bossy” or even “bitchy” for that matter, if that is what it takes for them to earn respect in spite of their achievements. What I don’t want is to call further attention to this trait as being always negative because as someone who works in corporate America who has had female managers, I can tell you that I would much rather work for the “bossy” boss or even “bitchy,” or “cold” boss then the “hippie” manager or the one who “mothers” her staff and pretends we are all her children.
It’s not the word “bossy” that is bad. It is the attitude and context behind it. When I have actually heard this style of critique of a female, the word “bossy” is followed by the word “bitch.” The latter being the derogatory phrase. We love to work small to big. We always want to go for the low hanging fruit. That is what makes most of us mediocre. We don’t want to solve real problems so we create pointless campaigns. We do have bigger problems to solve. We even have more important issues to address with our daughters. How about helping our daughters by encouraging STEM education and interests beyond reality TV and “escape-my-parents-by-baby-makin?” How about we educate women to stop being mean to each other? How about we teach the pretty and popular girls not to be so cruel to the plain, frumpy, mousy, and chubby girls they will one day be working for – and perhaps – learn a few lessons from them (focusing on education and career.) How about teaching them that if they insist on going through that bad-boy phase, at least use birth control so you won’t be trapped with him for the next several decades.
So with all of that being said:
1.) Banning a word does nothing to address or change the negative feelings and attitudes behind it.
2.) If you are going to ban a word, at least ban the right word.
3.) Do we actually think that the word “bossy” is on par with other words for which we have understood unwritten rules removing them from the mainstream lexicon? (i.e. the N-word or the F-word, or now the R-word.)
Of course, as I am finishing this up, we have several other articles that are also ridculing this.
The more I think about it, the more I believe this was a grand idea by Cheryl Sandberg to follow up her successful book. But isn’t she attacking the very trait that propelled her to massive success. If she’s trying to change the culture from within, she should have stuck with her original idea (I believe) which is to ban the word “bitch” instead of listen to her HR people who warned her it might be too harsh.