I am bossy. There, I said it. Bossy from birth, as a matter of fact. I come from a long line of bossy women, all beloved by their men, their families, and their communities for all they accomplished. So when I heard that my beloved Girl Scouts had hooked up with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, to ban the word “bossy” I was confused. Sheryl Sandberg, her eyes glistening from the painful memory, said that she was labeled as bossy as a little girl and how hurtful that was to her.
Hurtful? You are the chief operating officer of a multi-billion dollar company and the best selling author of the alpha-business-female bible, Lean In. Hurtful? We should tattoo all little girls with the word “bossy” if that’s the end result.
With all your clout Sheryl, the best you can come up with is to tell everyone to ban a word from their vocabulary? There’s some bossy irony, right there. I’m a writer so I think every word has its place, no matter how vile. I’m not one for censoring any word. Limiting one’s vocabulary is a no-go in my world.
You could use your considerable clout to make progress on real issues affecting women today. May I suggest the gender wage gap, domestic violence, science and math education for girls, the attacks on the food stamp program, or women’s health care? Surely it is far more damaging to tell a little girl that she’s not getting a hot lunch at school because of program cuts than to call her bossy.
In fact, it was in the Girl Scouts that I was encouraged to be bossy. I was taught to dream big, formulate plans, lead others to implement them, overcome obstacles through persuasion and determination, and succeed like only a truly confident, bossy girl can. I will forever love the Girl Scouts for that lesson.
I think the Girl Scouts should start handing out Bossy badges. Bossy has passion, leadership, and drive. Bossy makes the world a better place. Case in point: Ms. Sheryl Sandberg. Let’s not pull that bossy ladder up behind you Sheryl, just because you’ve achieved your success.
I must explain a truth to you, little ones. Bossy is what you’re called before puberty. After puberty, you’re going to be called bitchy. So what? Bitch isn’t an insult, either. To quote Tina Fey, “You know what? Bitches get stuff done.” “Bossy” and “bitchy” are just two words that are often synonymous with “strong leader.” It’s what weak, lazy people say when confronted with passionate vision and competence in girls.
Sheryl Sandberg, if you want to gather your A-list friends to campaign as America’s word police go right ahead but you’re undermining your own project. By telling everyone to stop using the word “bossy,” you’re emphasizing the message to little girls that being “bossy” is somehow bad instead of badass. You’re not helping. I’m bossy and proud of it.