Forget Banning Bossy. Be A Boss Instead.

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First, Sheryl Sandberg asked women to lean in, and I’m all for that. Now, she’s asking people to ban the word bossy from their vocabulary, and I just can’t get behind it.

First of all, there’s not enough research to confirm that the word bossy is indeed correlated to discouraging young girls from becoming leaders. In fact, the campaign cites only one Girl Scouts survey. Is that really enough information to justify a campaign to ban a word? Aren’t there more IMPORTANT issues to bring awareness to? Isn’t there a better way to go about all this?

Second of all, the word has both positive and negative connotations. Is it actually bein used the way Sheryl Sandberg thinks? I, myself, cannot recall a time when I was called “bossy.” And even if I was, the fact that I can’t recall the situation points to the not-so-adverse effects the word actually had on me. If anything, I would take the word bossy as a compliment.

I’ve never even heard the word used to solely describe girls or women in power in negative way. I am aware that women in power are often viewed negatively, whereas men are praised. However, prior to the Ban Bossy campaign, I didn’t even realize the word had deleterious effects on girls and/or women. But is it truly causing these detrimental effects?

And therein lies the problem, the campaign is creating awareness and reinforcing the fact that bossy is used to negatively describe girls or women in leadership roles. The campaign has the opposite effect of what it is trying to accomplish by bringing the stereotype to the front of the mind.

Now, people will be hyper aware of it. While this will stop some people from using the word, it will make those who were previously unaware very aware of it. Reinforcing the “bossy” stereotype instead of offering a solution is the problem with the campaign. Banning bossy doesn’t solve the problem of women getting paid 77 cents to the dollar that men make. Banning bossy doesn’t give women equal rights or access to leadership positions. Banning bossy doesn’t stop society from telling women what they can or can’t do with their body. Banning bossy pales in comparison to all the women’s rights issues out there. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.

According to this Kansas City Star article, Maura Ciammetti, a 26-year-old woman who works for a small tech company in Philadelphia, felt that instead of banning the word, what “if we taught girls how to deal with their peers calling them names?” Additionally, Julia Angelen Joy, a 42-year-old Girl Scout troop leader, who works in public relations and marketing proposed this rallying cry, “How about Ban Bossy, support kindness.” The emphasis here would be on attempting to create equality through positivity, which makes more sense than the campaign itself.

Fundamentally, the campaign is trying to do something positive, but it’s going about female empowerment the wrong way. Empowering women means changing attitudes, and that starts as early as birth. We should foster gender equality throughout early childhood development by not reinforcing gender stereotypes. After all, who said blue is for boys and pink is for girls?

How about Ban Bossy by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act? This amendment ensures that women receive equal pay to their male counterparts. Where is Sheryl Sandberg and the Ban Bossy campaign now while lawmakers are pushing to pass this amendment on the Equal Pay Act? What does Sandberg have to say about this? And why doesn’t she put her voice and power behind this movement? Equal pay is an actionable solution to creating equality between men and women in the workplace. It’s not the end all, be all, but it is a step in the right direction. Ban Bossy, however, is just a bandaid for a problem that’s existed for centuries.

About Ashley Vaughn

Ashley is a brand and content strategist with a conscious. Fashion, beauty and contemporary social problems are her preferred topics of conversation. She has a penchant for sarcasm, coffee and fresh baked goods. Whether you want to talk copy or cupcakes, you can find her on Twitter. See All of Ashley's Posts

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