Bossy Without The Y

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“…yeah but most female bosses are bitches.”

A statement from my roommate’s boyfriend that resulted in a lot of emotion, sarcastic comments and a solid minute and a half of me and my roommate looking at each other wide-eyed going, “Ooooooooooh.”

He backed up his claim using some science jargon about how biologically men are inclined to lead because of their testosterone to which I responded with some snarky remark about how women can’t possibly be leaders because we’re too busy shedding our uterine lining and bleeding from our vaginas every month or something like that. Which to me, the bleeding from the vagina defense is always a good one when men refer to things women can’t or shouldn’t do.

Granted, he is a smart guy so his science explanation is probably true but I refused to look up these facts because I am a stubborn human being. However, I was confused how this backed up his statement that most female bosses are bitches. That was the moment I hopped on board the Ban Bossy campaign train.

When men are in charge they’re the boss but when women are in charge they’re bossy. This double-standard is exactly what the Ban Bossy campaign addresses while promoting leadership in young women. The Girl Scouts of the USA has partnered with LeanIn.org “to develop tips and activities to encourage all girls to lead.”  Big names such as Beyonce and Condoleezza Rice backed the campaign to spread the word about banning the word. Cosmo offers a great article on the topic stating that various powerful women were described using words such as crazy, too tough, bossy, stubborn, unapproachable, and brusque whereas men of the same positions and sometimes qualifications were described as audacious, determined, confident and out-spoken. This double-standard between men and women bosses discourages young girls from stepping up into positions of leadership for fear of not being liked.

In a piece on Forbes.com written by Tina Wells, founder and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, she suggests instead of starting a campaign against the word “bossy” why not teach our girls to shrug it off? I understand that it’s not realistic to expect something like this to end gender inequalities and stereotyping as well as the benefits of having thick skin, but have you ever tried to convince a women she is beautiful who has been made to feel her whole life as if she isn’t? It’s not easy to do. The things we are taught, way we are perceived and words used to describe us at a young age affect the way we see ourselves, our opportunities and the world around us as we get older. Yeah, it sucks, and having the ability to shrug off every hurtful word somebody says to you would be ideal, but it’s not realistic either. Doesn’t it make more sense to eliminate the ways in which we are being hurt than finding ways to block it out? Agreed, we give words power, but if we can change the way people view women in these leadership roles why wouldn’t we go that route rather than trying to teach 7 year-old girls the concept of sticks-and-stones?

The sole purpose of this campaign isn’t to end the use of a word. What good would that do? It’s about encouraging and inspiring young girls to develop their leadership skills. It’s about respecting woman in positions of power without assuming they’re bossy, bitches or have done anything other than earn where they’re at in their career. It’s about picturing “the boss” as somebody other than a man. It’s about progression.

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