Surely We’re Better Than Banning “Bossy”?


Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg

On Friday, we highlighted yet another instance of the wussification of little boys in America, where brandishing your own index finger in the shape of a gun is now punishable with suspension by the purveyors of “zero tolerance”. However, in today’s era of “fairness”, it’s important not to leave the girls out in the cold. Fortunately, there’s news making the rounds that makes enveloping them into the Nanny State fold an easy matter to attend to.

The Nanny State’s target this time isn’t the wholly imaginary arsenal of school yard boys, what with their fingers of mass destruction or bow and arrows that are in reality 1% pencil and 99% mental creativity. No, this time it’s a word. A simple word, and not even an outwardly emotional one either. But apparently, it’s usage in the schoolhouse or playground has grown to such pervasive proportions and hurt so many feelings that it must be stricken from the lexicon and eighty-six’ed like all those index fingers.

We must ban “bossy”! From ABC News:

[Sheryl] Sandberg — the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the best-selling book “Lean In” — is spearheading the launch of a campaign today to ban the word “bossy,” arguing the negative put-down stops girls from pursuing leadership roles.

“We know that by middle school, more boys than girls want to lead,” Sandberg said, “and if you ask girls why they don’t want to lead, whether it’s the school project all the way on to running for office, they don’t want to be called bossy, and they don’t want to be disliked.”

She goes on to relate a story from her own past whereby a former teacher of hers pulled a friend aside called Sandberg “bossy” in ninth grade:

“‘You shouldn’t be friends with Sheryl. She’s bossy.’ And that hurt.”

So on, and so forth. The title of the linked article is “Sheryl Sandberg Launches ‘Ban Bossy’ Campaign to Empower Girls to Lead”. She says that she extols the view that leadership “is the expectation that you can use your voice for good”. I may be new to the “empowerment” party after all, but since when did using their voice to squelch someone else’s become the mark of a leader? When did it become necessary to insulate girls from criticism, earned or unearned? Why would mentors to girls impart the idea that it’s easier to shutter dissent rather than confront it? As if banning a kid from using “bossy” is going to render moot the underlying basis of why they took “offense” to the “bossy” girl in the first place.

Rather than inculcating girls and women with a sense of inner worth, or otherwise telling them to pay no heed to such superficial utterances by those of the Thin Skin Brigade who apparently can’t hack assertiveness (which is how I would properly define “bossy”), the “Ban Bossy” campaign and others like it instead set into concrete the mindset that it’s a legitimate response to be victimized or bothered by such insipid comments. That the proper retort to such juvenile mudslinging isn’t to parry the “offending” remark with pointed witticisms, or simply ignoring it and carrying on, but rather to ban the other person’s speech. Sandberg is the COO of arguably the most successful social media site in history, and if her own experience of being called “bossy” has held her back in any respect, it’s difficult to see how. Why should we set other girls apart or treat them differently?

She hasn’t seemed to wallow in the supposed victimization of being called “bossy” since her childhood. Instead, she’s kicked butt on her way up the corporate ladder until she was a billionaire with a corner office. Through her successes, she’s proved to her former teacher the difference between “bossy” and ambitious. Her teacher’s comment didn’t limit her. If anything, it could be argued that it emboldened her.

Be motivated. Don’t abuse people, but take no prisoners. If someone has an issue with such assertiveness, who cares? That’s their problem. That person is likely destined to be the employee rather than the employer anywayso why define your own bold style by someone else’s reaction to it? Be so confident (but not arrogant) in yourself that such criticisms roll off your back like water off a duck. Look at Sarah Palin. She endures far worse vitriol and toxicity than “bossy” could ever cover. Think she gives a rip about any of it? Hardly. She just doubles down and charges ahead. Those people don’t matter. They’ll figure out soon enough that you were right all along.

If such an idea worked for Sandberg and Palin, surely the same can be taught to the other girls of America, right? All without resorting to the ridiculous machinations of the Nanny State which itself, contrary to Sandberg’s intentions, creates only victims and mindless drones instead of strong women who become Facebook executives or members of Congress?


About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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