Ban Bossy: When bad ideas happen to smart people

Jeff Macke

Ban Bossy: When bad ideas happen to smart people

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Ban Bossy: When bad ideas happen to smart people

Ban Bossy: When bad ideas happen to smart people
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Girl Scouts lead the way to 'Ban Bossy'

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Girl Scouts lead the way to 'Ban Bossy'

Danielle Hughes is bossy.

She’s also the CEO and founder of Divine Capital Markets, an Institutional Broker Dealer providing research and investment banking services to families, institutions and corporations. Divine is a WBENC certified "Woman-Owned" firm particularly focused on the needs of women-led business.

Hughes is among many smart, successful women who find the Ban Bossy campaign a misguided waste of energy. In the attached video Hughes takes issue with the notion that the term “bossy” negatively impacts girls more than boys. If anything she thinks being called bossy contributed to her success. “I believe it helped me get over myself and find another way to communicate.”

The fundamental flaw in the campaign to eliminate “bossy” runs deeper than the false assertion that the word impacts girls more than boys. Ban Bossy’s underlying problem is that the premise is wrong. “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’”

Kids who assert themselves inappropriately are called brats. Children are leaders if others follow them and bossy if they push other kids around inappropriately. Nothing about any of these terms is gender specific. Bossy is a gender-neutral adjective. In contrast the world is stubbornly aware of gender despite the best-misguided efforts of the “Free to Be You and Me” generation.

“I think that women have a different way of managing people,” says Hughes, “Girls and boys have a different way of managing and they have to learn their way.”

Bossy is a playground word. Having a debate over its use is beneath discussion among grown ups. That being the case Hughes has a suggestion for kids who get their feelings dented by words. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me. That’s what I teach my kids.”

There isn't a pro-Bossy resistance group to stand in Sheryl Sandberg's way. The male power structure seldom uses the word. If Bossy is regarded as sexist it will quickly disappear from acceptable lexicon and never be heard in polite company again.

All of which misses the point. There's a word that starts with B, is aimed exclusively at women and is tossed around freely among males clinging to what's left of their power monopoly. This 'B word' should be abolished post-haste and be considered as unacceptable as other social pejorative anachronisms.

Before we get too societally thrilled about eliminating 'bossy,' we should ask why there isn't a corporate boss with courage to start a debate over the real sexist B-word.

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