I am liberal. This is unsurprising to those who know me. I am a hard-core, intensely left-wing liberal. I strongly believe in equality for all, in a true separation of the state and the various mythologies, in big taxes for government works and education, not for bombs and armies. I think that any person should be able to marry any person they choose. I believe that sex is a word for chromosomal description and gender is a self or societally defined construct. I believe that life begins when life can live outside the womb. I believe that the death penalty is archaic, and that guns should be abolished. I equate the b-word with the n-word, and in my heart I know that women, when compared to men, are as a whole smarter, more rational and psychologically stronger than men. I believe that affirmative action should still be on the books and be applied to women and the LGBTQ community as well.
That's just a general idea on where I stand, so you'll know that when I say this, it comes from a place where political correctness is welcome: Sheryl Sandberg's "Ban Bossy" campaign is utterly ridiculous.
When I first heard about the campaign, I honestly thought I was hearing a SNL skit. I chuckled a bit. At least until I realized that someone was taking it seriously. Banning a word? Ok, there are a couple I'd like to get rid of. The infamous "n" word. The "r" work. I could do without the word that started out as meaning "female dog" as well. But … "bossy"?
You want to ban the goddamned motherfucking word BOSSY? This is where you are spending your time and energy. On a word that is used to describe women as well as men? Oh – I get the difference – I do. It's a little more derogatory towards women, yes. That's true. But it's not like a man is being called "Mister Sir Immaculate Emperor" when he's called bossy, either. Bossy is a playground word, one used in teasing. It can cause hurt feelings. It can cause tears. But it can also be an actual descriptor. A bossy person is not necessarily a person who is a leader.
I've had more than my fair share of competent, intelligent and driven supervisors who were excellent leaders, none of whom would fit the description of "Bossy." I've a couple who were ok and managed to get things done, but did so by being bossy. They ordered people around in a way that was grating, unendearing, and trite. They were not looking out for the well-being of their subordinates or their company – only for themselves. They shouted, whined and cajoled.
In short, they were, as noted before, Bossy.
This is a campaign that should have been a non-starter to begin with. As it has picked up steam in the media, it should have taken a different tack. It should have embraced the word. This is one of the rare cases where a population can embrace a word and use it from source of power instead of whining about how you don't like to be called that particular thing. What this campaign has done was given all the little bullies new ammo to use in their relentless teasing. "Look at Heather, she's so bossy, when she cries her tears are glossy…"
Boom. There goes the dynamite.
I applaud Ms. Sandberg, if it was her attempt to give thugs another way of thuggin'. Her campaign is a pretty good way of going about doing just that. If her intent was to empower girls and women everywhere, then, again, she should have taken on the mantle, proclaim that she's bossy and that it's ok. Right now, however, I am just seething at this attempt at yet another ban-i-fication attempt. I've never called anyone bossy before, but I think I'll start. Everyone from now on will be either Bossy or Wussy (another term I haven't used, but hey, let's go all in). Doesn't matter to me, you can choose.
Ms. Sandberg, I know you won't read this. I know very few folks will. But if, by some chance this comes across your screen please change your mind about "Ban Bossy." Change it to something like "BAM! Bossy! And so are you!" Make bossy a term of pride, make it so that people will flock to it as a descriptor. Trying to force a change like this down everyone's throat and whining about this relatively innocuous word makes you seem, well, bossy – and not in the good way.
Make that change. embrace your inner Bossytude. Smile wink and nod then say "Yeah, I'm bossy." embrace it.
Like a Boss.