Reclaim the B

by julia.hanigsberg | March 13th, 2014

I remember a conversation I once had with one of my teenaged daughters. She said something along the lines of, “I know I’m bossy and sometimes when I’m doing group work I’ve got to tone it down, but I just like things done right.” I feel you sister!

The latest shot across the bow from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In organization is the crie de coeur to ban the word “bossy.” She (rightly) bemoans its sexist use to describe girls and complains that boys with the same behaviour get to be called leaders. She’s enlisted an all star cast of supporters including Condoleezza Rice and Beyonce (among others). Not surprisingly, they put together a great PSA.

Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t stray away from controversy. Her book Lean In and its eponymous foundation garnered its fair share of criticism. I liked the book and much of it rang true for me, something I’ve blogged about before.

But I think the #banbossy movement is a serious misstep. First of all it is trivial. There are lots of big problems women and girls face in North America and around the world. If I were to have Sandberg’s capacity to pull together celebrity clout to influence solving a problem the dangers of “bossy” wouldn’t be on my top 1000 list. Secondly, it suggests girls and women are such tender flowers that being called bossy is enough to torpedo their nascent feminist selves. Being called bossy as a girl doesn’t seem to have held Sandberg back. In fact in the book, I got the feeling she was owning her bossiness.

Maybe it’s just because I AM bossy and it hasn’t held me back much, but I’m simply not fussed about bossy. In fact, I don’t mind being called bossy.

Or as I wish Beyonce had said, “I’m bossy AND I’m the boss.”


Photo by K.Romero

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