RSS
Women’s rights: Should ‘bossy’ be banned?
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez claim that calling girls “bossy” discourages them from being assertive.
 

“Clearly, being called bossy didn’t stop Sheryl Sandberg from succeeding,” said Linda Chavez in WashingtonExaminer.com. So why is the COO of Facebook putting her considerable influence behind the “Ban Bossy” campaign? In launching the campaign with a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez claim that calling girls “bossy” discourages them from being “assertive, confident, and opinionated,” and can leave emotional scars that will make them less likely to seek out leadership roles later in life. But as Sandberg certainly knows, succeeding in a competitive world requires “acquiring a thick skin,” not “living in a protected bubble.” We should teach children to reject people who put them down and to listen to their own inner voices, said Gail Gross in HuffingtonPost.com. Trying to shield them from mean words only encourages girls to think of themselves as “victims” who need to be protected from life’s challenges.

You underestimate the power of words, said Jill Filipovic in TheGuardian.com. When outspoken, assertive girls and women are repeatedly told they are bossy, the message is that no one likes females who speak up for themselves; a “good girl” is quiet and subservient. Obviously, this is a highly “regressive view of what women should be,” and it’s a major reason why women find it so hard to ask for raises or assert themselves in male-dominated workplaces. When girls are taught to be sweet and compliant, said Ruth Ann Dailey in Post-Gazette.com, they grow up into women with “no voice,” who mutely let male bosses or boyfriends push them around. Sandberg deserves praise for taking aim at the “gender stereotypes we’re still foisting on impressionable children and tweens.”

“There is nothing inherently wrong with being bossy,” said Jessica Roy in Time.com.So why tell girls there is, by trying to ban the word? Women should embrace the word “bossy,” and start demanding equal pay and equal standing in this “male-dominated culture.” If Sandberg really wants to impact gender equality, said Keli Goff in TheDailyBeast.com, she should “put her money where her mouth is” by starting a scholarship program for “bossy girls” who have the skills and ambition but not the funds to go to college. Maybe then they will have the confidence, skills, and education “to compete for Sandberg’s job someday.”

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week