It’s Women’s History Month, and with the requisite celebration of pioneers and leaders, also comes discussion on what we should do to empower young women.
And also much talk about what we shouldn't do.
Lean In, a nonprofit founded by Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, recently teamed with the Girl Scouts of the USA for #BanBossy, a social-media campaign to end the use of the B-word:
“When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a ‘leader.' Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.' Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up,” the campaign manifesto reads.
Sandberg, whose book Lean In advised women to mentor one another and encourage leadership roles, took to the podium at the 2013 BlogHer conference to discuss negative connotations surrounding the word in question:
“Next time you're about to call your daughter bossy? Take a deep breath and praise her leadership skills instead.”
I get the sentiment, but instead of censoring the word, why not own it? Why not challenge the notion that being considered bossy is a bad thing?
While the word has many negative synonyms—tyrannical, overpowering and ironhanded, just to name a few—it's also just another term for assertive, confident and commanding. It's just another way to describe someone unafraid to voice her opinion, take a stand and take action.
It's just another way to describe a leader.
The problem isn't the word, the problem is people who view confident, assertive and commanding girls (and women) as little more than pushy, irksome or annoying.
To be bossy means to be like a boss. And when it comes to young girls, that's a very powerful thing.