by guest blogger Maya Rodale, author of smart and sassy romance novels
With all due respect to my idols, Sheryl, Beyoncé, and the other women of the #BanBossy campaign, I most certainly will not ban bossy. In fact, you can call me bossy flossy, the boss lady, or whatever variation of the B-word you want. In fact, I insist on it. Does that make me bossy? I hope so.
According to the Ban Bossy website and star-studded video, words like pushy, stubborn, and bossy are the reason girls become less interested in leadership by the time they reach middle school. There are probably a variety of reasons for this. But the proposed solution is to simply ban the word bossy. And then what—ban the words pushy, stubborn, bitch, and any other words deemed offensive? The effect of that is silencing the ability to communicate—while the angsty feelings at the root of the problem remain.
Fact: No matter what’s in your pants or up your skirt, something will hurt your feelings—and that’s good! It’s one of the ways we learn how to treat others. You will be called names or be described with words you don’t like—and it’s an opportunity to engage with that person to find out why or a chance to reclaim the word and its meaning. You will encounter stereotypes, both in your favor and against you. You’ll be judged, get a bad grade, have your heart broken, and scrape your knee. It’s called life. Deal with it.
Learning to navigate all those tricky situations and using them as a way to fortify yourself rather than as an excuse to drop out is how you grow up to be a boss. Being a boss is hard. People will call you worse things than bossy—they will do so publicly—and you can’t do anything about it. You will have to deal with everyone’s feelings about everything. You will have to make so many decisions your head will hurt at the end of the day. To get the job done, you will need to be stubborn (or tenacious), pushy (or assertive), or even bossy. If you can’t handle being called bossy, then you have some work to do before you’re ready to be a boss.
Instead of banning the word, let’s teach leadership skills to kids and reward instances of leadership when we see it. Let’s also acknowledge that not everyone can be or even wants to be the alpha dog, and that’s okay.
Sheryl and her crew are right about one thing: Words do matter. The attitudes we attached to them are real and powerful. But the meanings and connotations of words also evolve over time. Banning one is a temporary solution at best. If you really want to change the perceptions attached to the words, you have to use them in a new way, loud and proud. So #CallMeBossy.
What do you think of the word bossy?
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest book is The Wicked Wallflower. Visit her online at mayarodale.com, or say hello to @mayarodale on Twitter.