Own Bossy

By Megan McDougall

So I know I'm a little late on my commentary game, and for that, I apologize. Hate to use the busy card 'cause we're all busy, but BUSY CARD. Between behind-the-scenes at S&TF, a final semester load, work, and being silly with V, I've grossly neglected my writing duties. Nevertheless, I'm baaaack! 

I'm sure you have all heard something about the Ban Bossy campaign. A slew of stars including my godmother Beyoncé, Jane Lynch, and Condoleezza Rice have backed the effort to stop the use of the word "bossy" in order to combat the negative effects it has on young girls and their leadership aspirations. The campaign touts that "between elementary and high school, girls' self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys'". They corollate the derogatory use of the word "bossy" and other similar put-downs as the cause for this drastic inadequacy between girls' and boys' levels of confidence. Hold up. No. Let's take a further look. Perhaps, is creating a campaign that focuses on changing the discourse around powerful girls in order to protect their feelings, a little trite? They argue that men are called 'leaders' and women, 'bossy'. I disagree. Leader is a noun. Bossy is an adjective. I hate to be such a stickler for linguistics, but someone has to be. You simply can't make a comparative claim if you aren't going to stay on the same grammatical axis. Now in some respects, I understand that I may be letting the semantics get in the way of the deeper message. However, I don't like the deeper message. 

Through banning a word, or creating a campaign surrounding it, you absolutely give it more power. Bossy is now elevated to a taboo, and it's use can become even more problematic. But what if we didn't ban bossy, and instead reveled in it? Are we maybe sending a message to young girls that we don't think they can handle negative criticism? That because we are girls, we are too emotionally weak to continue on a path of leadership because some asshole on the playground called them bossy? I have to think that we are, because this campaign isn't Ban Bossy for everyone. It is Ban Bossy for girls. Girls who cry when we get our hair pulled, or when we get called a name. If we want to build young girls up and prepare them for competitive environments and difficult situations, we are going to have to support and encourage them to just not give a fuck. Encourage them to be respectful but not to be scared to make the tough decisions that may get them called bossy. Maybe if Suzie sucks at foursquare, Molly might have to make the cut and let Ellen on the team. Sorry, not sorry. We want to strive for compassion and for empathy, but also teach our girls that it's okay to make those tough calls. Social politics start the minute your child is exposed to others. We should be teaching our girls diplomacy, not sensitivity to the noise that just doesn't matter. It's not the message, it's the delivery. Being a leader means you have to be a boss, and when acting as a boss, you are BOSS-Y. When our girls get called bossy, instead of coddling them and saying "oh it's okay, little girl, you can still be a leader!" maybe we should ask them, "were you?". Perhaps teaching our girls to reroute, and overcome might be a more effective campaign as there are always going to be people trying to bring you down. Being called bossy is the constant, let's try and change our reactive variables. Alright, this cynic is done. The Ban Bossy campaign, in essence, isn't all bad. But it's bad enough to take some time to reflect and question the way we form the discourse around powerful and decisive women, regardless of age. And please don't forget: you don't have to love me, you don't even have to like me, but you will respect me. You know why? CAUSE I'M A BOSS. 

This song still bangs, don't even play my foxes.

-megan