There has been a lot of “bossy” talk in the media this week. Sheryl Sandberg would like to have the word banned from use.
As an opposer of censorship, I don’t support encouraging the banning of words, but as I writer, I see her point. Words are powerful — the pen mightier than the sword and all that — which is perhaps why we shouldn’t throw around the term “ban” either, but that’s the topic of another post. Interesting how the word bossy can have two implied meanings. From the Ban Bossy website:
When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.
The site goes on to say that girls are more likely to be interrupted in class than boys, perhaps leading to a precipitous drop in self esteem. Between elementary school and high school a girl’s self esteem is 3.5 times lower than a boy’s.
When I was a senior in high school (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), my physics teacher sat all the girls in the back of the classroom and only directed questions to the boys. If a girl did try to answer, the boys simply talked over her, loudly, until she stopped talking. We girls learned quickly to keep our mouths shut, lest we be labeled pushy or arrogant.
The bossy stigma continues into adulthood. Bossy has a much different connotation when used for a woman than for a man. The definition of bossy in the Oxford American Dictionary uses this example of the word in a sentence: She was headlong, bossy, scared of nobody, and full of vinegar. And: We’re hiding from his bossy sister. It’s also very interesting to think that anyone who is “fond of giving orders or domineering” is considered bossy, but when applied to a girl on a playground it takes on negative overtones in our minds. Not so for boys. And when that girl grows up she’ll be called a b**ch, while her male counterpart will be called assertive and confident.
It’s amazing to me that this is still such an issue in 2014. So, this being women’s history month, let’s take a moment to celebrate some “bossy” women. Last year, photographer Jaime Moore was looking for new ideas for her daughter’s birthday photos. She came across a lot of princesses. Jaime decided to go a different route.
It started me thinking about all the REAL women for my daughter to know about and look up to, REAL women who, without ever meeting Emma, have changed her life for the better…I wanted her to know the value of these amazing women who had gone against everything so she can now have everything.
Jaime chose five women in honor of Emma’s fifth birthday. “Let’s set aside the Barbie dolls and the Disney Princesses for just a moment, and let’s show our girls the REAL women they can be.”
You can see the entire “NOT Just a Girl” series on Jaime’s site, (including my personal hero Jane Goodall!) but here’s a peek. How awesome is this? Brings tears to my eyes.
As a side note, Jaime has plans to expand the NOT Just a Girl series. She has an Indiegogo site to help raise funds to continue spreading the word about the real women girls can become.
Did you experience negative reactions because you spoke up? If you have (or have had) daughters, did words like bossy influence their self esteem?
Have a great weekend, everyone!