Certain words incite strong emotion. Lately, that word comes to us via the Ban Bossy campaign, which has sparked debate about the word, its definition and whether or not it’s a good idea for girls to take on such a label.

As we reported yesterday, the Ban Bossy campaign was recently launched by Girl Scouts USA and Lean In. The idea is that the word “bossy” holds girls back. Instead of being labeled bossy, these organizations say that girls should be called leaders. Many prominent public figures have come forward and told their stories about being called bossy as a girl and how they have used their leadership skills successfully.

But many disagree with this idea, some going so far as to call it “PC trash” and the campaign itself a “joke.”

Another simply says, “Sheryl Sandberg could have done better.”

Ban Bossy grew out of a statement by Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In: “I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills.”

At the time, Shannan Younger of Families in the Loop wrote a piece in response, noting bossiness connotes rudeness and a disregard for others:

“I think it’s wrong,” she writes. “Or that at least it needs a follow-up: ‘And you need to refine those skills if you really want to be a leader. You need to listen in order to give the right directives.'”
Many agree with her point.
One Facebook commenter writes: “”I have a “bossy” daughter. …We are teaching her how to use it in a positive way.”

But there’s also the issue of misusing the word ‘bossy’ to describe leadership skills and assertiveness, rather than rude disregard. Regardless of the word and differing opinions, we see some commonality emerge. Girls can be strong. Girls can be leaders. Isn’t that something we can all rally around?

Perhaps this Facebook commenter says it best:

“I think we should try our best to teach our kids, boys and girls alike, to be kind. They can be assertive and stand proud in their beliefs, all while being respectful of other people. No matter what we teach our kids anyway, they are their own entity and develop their own characteristics and personalities, but we can give them a fighting chance by just teaching them to be nice.”


Image credit: Rolands Lakis / CC BY 2.0

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