Be the boss

While ÔBan Bossy' becomes popular, real problem gets lost

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The Spectrum

Apparently, calling a girl bossy is a bad thing.

While many girls may be nodding their heads and clicking the "share" button as they indulge in Sherry Sandberg's trending video "Ban Bossy," it's making me shake my head.

The one-minute clip has been circulating social media in an attempt to ban the word "bossy" from the playground. Through her organization "Lean In," and partnered with Girl Scouts of USA, Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, wants to eradicate the "bossy" stigma that makes girls and women hesitate when striving for a leadership position.

According to the "Ban Bossy" website, "When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a 'leader.' Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded 'bossy.'" Consequently, girls are shying away from leadership because of this stigma.

I agree that bullying and stereotyping should be condemned in any shape or form. And do I agree that girls should be given the same opportunities for success as men? Of course.

But bossy is bossy. It's not gender specific. It's not even a character trait that falls as a consequence of power. It's an ugly trait that instills the idea of dominance.

Shouldn't we be telling boys not to be bossy, too? If we were putting more effort into formulating a template of the defining aspects of quality leadership, then the word bossy would be eradicated altogether.

The video concludes with the statement, "I'm not bossy. I'm the boss."

Exactly. This is the message that matters. Any sort of demeaning treatment from someone in a dominant position of power is unacceptable and hinders anyone from expressing themselves with full confidence.

Who decided that bossy wasn't gender neutral anymore? If anything, "Ban Bossy" is making the term synonymous with women. It suggests that powerful women are labeled as bossy, and powerful men are labeled as leaders.

Really? Because I can think of handfuls of women in history who were powerful - Cleopatra, Marie Curie, Golda Meir, Rosa Parks, Aretha Franklin (she's got R-E-S-P-E-C-T by the bucket load) - and the term "bossy" never crossed my mind. They were leaders in their fields.

In my day-to-day life, I am confronted with women who exude the qualities of a leader. From my colleagues who surround me to the professors who teach me - they are leaders. They take their strengths and their powers, and they strive for a team-developed, strong outcome. They walk around with their heads held high and a string of accomplishments filling the path behind them, but they never misuse their power.

And this goes for the men who obtain positions of authority who surround me in everyday life. They're non-egotistical, they lead by example and they delegate brilliantly - they are also leaders.

Sandberg has rightly noted that she doesn't want to see a parallel between "bossy" and "leader," but that message is buried underneath an overbearing feminist crusade.

Banning a word isn't going to solve any problems. It's just vilifying and generalizing while enlarging the void that girls are trying to jump over.

email: megan.weal@ubspectrum.com