First, I want to you tell that I admire you. You are a strong role model for young girls and boys, and for me as well. I’m inspired by smart, hard-working people who have accomplished a great deal. I am sure that in your lifetime you have come up with thousands of great ideas. In my opinion, this is not one of them.
Here is what I know about your “Ban Bossy” campaign. You do not like the word “bossy”. You do not want people to use the word bossy, and you especially do not want people to call girls bossy. You have proven statistically that women make less money than men for the same jobs. You also say that women have less opportunities than men.
You want to create a better atmosphere for young girls. You want girls to be able to own their leadership skills and seek roles of power. You want that to be the norm, not the exception. You think that when girls are called bossy, that may shake their confidence. Being called that word may make girls question their leadership skills, and it may prevent them from becoming what they otherwise could be some day.
You tell us that you remember a teacher telling your friend she should not hang out with you, because you were too bossy. That hurt your feelings. You don’t want that to happen to any other young girls, so you inspired a large group of intelligent, accomplished and beautiful (Hi Beyonce) women to join you in your “Ban Bossy” campaign.
If your campaign succeeds, the word bossy will officially be out. We may call some girls things like, “works-together-impaired” instead (I made that up. Do you like it?), but we will not call them bossy.
Do I have that right? I don’t want to misunderstand you. If I have the facts right here, then I want to ask you something. Do we really need to make this a thing? Because I don’t think we need to make this a thing. This isn’t a real thing.
After reading what you had to say, I believe you have identified a real problem, but you’ve come up with the wrong solution. And, honestly, I don’t even think you’ve identified the problem correctly.
You say women make less than men. That’s the part of the problem that I think you have right. That stinks. I’m not lying. Thanks for addressing that, because someone should.
You also say women have less opportunity than men. That’s where we disagree. I know that I have optimistic DNA. I’m a half-full kind of girl, and I guess I’m glad for that. But, I just really wish I could meet you in person so that you could explain to me what you are talking about. I don’t understand.
You think women in the United States have less opportunities than men? They do? Where? Who? I am 42-years-old, and I have seen no evidence to support your theory. There’s no way I am going to believe it just because a bunch of influential people tell me I should. I’ve always preferred a more common sense approach; an approach based on what I know to be true.
I have only worked for strong, smart female bosses in my career. Every day I work with female Financial Analysts, CEO’s, Transplant Surgeons, Department Heads, and many other high profile positions that are held by women. Where is this alternate reality you describe? I don’t live there.
I would like it if you would please stop saying women have less opportunities than men. It hurts my girl ego. I know I don’t know you, but I’d also like to ask you a personal favor. Will you please not say that in front of my daughter? No one has ever told her that before, and I’d like to keep it that way.
What I’m going to say next may sound a little harsh, and I’m sorry for that. I know you’re really just trying to help. I am being honest. When you start talking about girls having less opportunities than boys, you sound like you’re feeling sorry for yourself. I rarely get annoyed, but when people feel sorry for themselves for no good reason, it’s nails on a chalkboard for me. Know what I mean?
I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, and I don’t want my daughter to either. Why would we? It’s always been my belief that we have every opportunity to accomplish whatever we’d like. All that is required is a willingness to learn, work hard, treat people well, and look out for the interests of others. Same is true for my sons. Now you are telling them otherwise.
The other part of your campaign that is troubling me is this problem you have with the word bossy. I’m sorry that teacher hurt your feelings when she called you bossy. She wasn’t being very nice. But, I’m still not on board with banning this word.
Bossy is a great word to call boys who are always trying to make the teams on the play ground; telling people what position they have to play in the outfield, and deciding who’s playing with whom.
Bossy is also a great word to describe girls who try to tell other kids who sits where, who can be friends with whom, and what game they’re going to play next. I guess you could say those kids are being obnoxious or overbearing, but bossy is shorter; easier to remember.
If a teacher or other children tell my daughter she is being bossy, I assume that means my daughter is not being perceptive. She is not reading the situation well and her success in her relationships is being hindered by her selfish instinct for immediate gratification and to have her own way. Those are not the characteristics of a tremendous leader. Those are the characteristics of a really sucky boss! She is acting BOSSY. I’m okay with that word.
If a teacher tells a girl student that she is acting bossy, I don’t think the girl’s future seat in the Senate is in jeopardy. There are tons of reasons a young woman can decide to not pursue a position of power.
I had every intention of being a successful career person when I was in college. I was sure that my career would always be my highest priority. I scoffed at women with lesser (as I defined it then) ambitions. Then I held our first born son. I distinctly remember looking into his eyes when he was a few weeks old, and immediately altering my life plans. My priorities shifted. That doesn’t happen to all women, but it happens to some. It happened to me. I’m pretty sure I would be ruler of the free world right now, if that wouldn’t have happened. Dang it, Eddie!!!
Do you think I sound sexist? Do you think I shouldn’t say what I just did because I’m implying child birth affects mothers differently than fathers? Hmmm…I’ll have to think about that. I always want to hear people out. If I’m sexist, I’ll own it.
What I think I am is a realist. I love my children intensely, but I don’t love them more than my husband loves them. I don’t know why he never once considered staying home for eight years to be with our pre schoolers, but he didn’t. I did. I jumped at the chance. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.
I know a growing number of dads are making the same decision, but they’re still outnumbered by moms. Taking almost a decade off will impact your career. It will. And it isn’t like when you step back into your career, it’s neat and clean. You can’t leave the kids behind. Those suckers are attached for life.
Kids take up huge amounts of brain space in their moms’ heads. It’s hard to remember that you meant to be a CEO when you’re trying to remember to pick up birthday treats and schedule everyone’s dentist appointments. My feminist friends may shudder, but I’m not going to make stuff up, just because it sounds better. I’m telling the truth.
I’m telling you all this that you never wanted to know about my personal life to say that I think the problem you define is complicated. There are more male CEO’s and more males in congress than women because sometimes life is complicated, especially for women. Some women NEVER get side tracked from their careers, but a lot of us do. A lot of us are just fine with that too. We choose other opportunities. At no time did being called bossy influence MOST women’s trajectory. I feel pretty sure about that.
You remember being called bossy, right? Did it alter your course? You are extremely successful and have a lot of power.
I’d be so behind your campaign if I thought we lived in a part of the world where men felt superior, just because they’re men. Believe me, I would. I know that reality exists for some women and girls. It haunts me. Those men are, sometimes I just feel like a swear word is appropriate. I’ll just say that those men are a word that starts with “d” and ends with “bags”. (I’m sorry, Mom, but they are.)
If my daughter and I lived in a world where men tried to dictate our choices, if men tried to tell us to wear a sheet over our faces, or that we couldn’t go out in public without them, I’d be rising up, baby. I’d be rising up. I’m talking full scale rebellion, guns-a-blazing, karate chop to the necks of all the men around me, poison their pancakes type of rebellion. If that were my reality, I’d be telling my daughter to NEVER accept that nonsense as truth.
We don’t live there though. We live here. We live here, in an awesome place where my daughter can consider hundreds of options for her future. She can decide what she wants to do some day, and she can do it as long as she is willing to work hard enough to get there. She is the only person who can limit her potential. (Sure. God can change the course of things any moment He chooses, but that’s a point for another day.) That’s what I have told her. That’s what I’ll keep telling her.
I will also tell all my children not to be bossy. If I see any of them trying to tell people where they need to go, what they need to do and wear, I’m going to tell them to stop. I’m going to say, “Children, quit being such little bossy boss bossaounds.”
If my daughter tries to tell me I can’t use the word bossy, because she is a girl, and her teachers said some smart women say that word discourages girls from becoming great leaders. I’m going to tell her that is a campaign for a made up problem. That problem is not real. I’ll say stop feeling sorry for yourself. Accept responsibility. Be nice to people. Work hard towards whatever it is you’d like to achieve. You have every opportunity to get there.
And THAT is what I wanted to say. I hope I don’t sound too bossy.