Ban Bossy, Stop Bossing Me Around

The newest thing that’s pissing me off is the Ban Bossy campaign. This is the most I’ve rolled my eyes all week, and that’s saying something. The campaign was recently started by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts, and it urges us all to eradicate the word BOSSY from our vocabularies. Why you ask? Because according to them, “bossy” is a word associated with powerful women and “leader” is a word associated with powerful men. Besides the fact that I beg to differ, this whole project is irritating.


Ok look. First of all, we’re not going to ban the word “bossy.” We’re not going to ban any words, because this is not Communist China and even Facebook and the Girl Scouts can’t tell me otherwise. I definitely think that the word can mean a lot of things. You can be bossy, and tell everyone what to do, and everyone will think you’re an asshole. Or you can be a BOSS and people will be like “Damn! She has her shit together, what a boss!” But Ban Bossy doesn’t care about the other kind of bossiness. They have Beyonce, Jane Lynch, and Jennifer Garner backing them up on this. That girls don’t have as much ambition because they’re afraid of having too much control and being labeled bossy. But those two things don’t always go hand in hand.

Um hello…Kelis is bossy. She told us herself. And look, no one’s pissed at her. She brought all the boys to the yard, and no one had any f***ing complaints. Now everyone’s pissed off and starting a campaign that, let’s be real, will lead to nothing. Even Miss Piggy—yes the Muppet— told the Daily Beast “[Bossy] is not something that I ever have a problem with…I just let people know that I know karate. And then they just do what I want.” So even a goddam puppet isn’t down with this campaign. This is not a tangible fight people. Fighting for more Girl Scout cookies in my neighborhood is a tangible fight. But the fight to ban bossy? Sorry, no.

I don’t even get it, like what do you guys want from us? To hashtag #BANBOSSY and start a revolution? To get women so riled up that they all of a sudden all want to run for office? Or start a nationwide fight club? Or finally feel inspired to let their leadership skills shine, because they were too timid to before? This is ridiculous. Women know how to be leaders, look around you everywhere. Every single one of my female friends is a leader, and none of them are bossy and no one has labeled them as such. Stop making girls out to being these useless individuals who need a hashtag to feel empowered. “10 tips to help girls flex their leadership muscles”? I mean this is great in terms of inspiring little girls that might be shy, but why are we instilling this false connection between bossiness and leadership at all? We’re just not giving our girls enough credit.


It’s as if they think all of us girls are sitting in the corner knitting and speaking with our inside voices. Bossy doesn’t equate with leadership. There are quiet leaders. There are leaders who aren’t always in the spotlight. It’s possible to lead and be liked and admired. And it’s possible to lead without ordering people around. There is something very flawed with the Ban Bossy ethos and maybe, instead of eradicating a word, we should eradicate the idea that bossiness and leadership are on equal footing. Maybe we should stop blaming a word for the way we raise our girls to view ambition, power, and career advancement. Maybe, Ban Bossy, should stop bossing US around and let girls be the leaders or bosses that they want to be.

Rula Al-Nasrawi is a Columbia Graduate whose writing has appeared in ViceThe Atlantic, and other online publications. Her first language is valley girl. Californian bred, NYC residing. @RulaOfTheWorld

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