Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s quest to give girls more confidence and help them gain leadership skills is a noble one, and I applaud her for the effort. I fully support any intelligent campaign that empowers young girls to strive for their best. However, when I read that she and her female power team plan to achieve this goal by asking the public to ban the word ‘bossy’ and sign an online petition agreeing not to use it, they lost me.
Sandberg believes that many young girls (and grown women) are afraid to voice their opinions because they fear the label bossy. Has bossy become a word associated only with the female population like the other ‘B’ word? Does this ban mean words like pushy, overbearing, and forceful are next on the chopping block?
When was the last time you heard the word bossy used, anyway? I don’t frequent school yards, where it’s often used according to Sandberg, nor do I have daughters. However, I was once one of those awkward girls who lacked confidence (sometimes I still do), yet I find it difficult to believe using the word is that common, or banning it would make a difference.
A ban isn’t likely to empower young girls to overcome their fear, but teaching them to face adversity and continue to pursue their goals should someone call them a negative name, may help them succeed.
The campaign encourages everyone to sign the pledge at banbossy.com. I’m not sure if only those who use the word and agree to stop should sign, or if all signatures are welcome. I think I’ll let this one pass.