By Caitlin Kelly
Did you see this recent piece in The Wall Street Journal?
Most dictionary entries for “bossy” provide a sentence showing its proper use, and nearly all focus on women. Examples range from the Oxford Dictionaries’ “bossy, meddling woman” to Urban Dictionary’s “She is bossy, and probably has a pair down there to produce all the testosterone.” Ngram shows that in 2008 (the most recent year available), the word appeared in books four times more often to refer to females than to males.
Behind the negative connotations lie deep-rooted stereotypes about gender. Boys are expected to be assertive, confident and opinionated, while girls should be kind, nurturing and compassionate. When a little boy takes charge in class or on the playground, nobody is surprised or offended. We expect him to lead. But when a little girl does the same, she is often criticized and disliked.
How are we supposed to level the playing field for girls and women if we discourage the very traits that get them there?
Much as I have very mixed feelings allowing corporate cheerleader Sheryl Sandberg to be the mouthpiece for women — hello, anyone else out there?! — I like this leadership and her new website, banbossy.com.
Her goal, and one I admire, is to encourage young girls, and those who raise and teach them, to speak up and speak out, to claim and re-claim their voices, both literal and political.
Here’s another take on this, from the consistently brilliant blogger Stacia Brown.
Did you see this wonderful collection of black and white images of five-year-old Emma, mimicking powerful, legendary women of the past? Amazing!
I think every young girl, especially, needs to know that her voice, ideas and opinions have value. Becoming a leader means stepping up, taking risks, speaking out and being brave.
Yes, she may end up bullied or called names or shouted at or booed for her daring. For being….herself.
Sticks and stones, kids.
One of my favorite beaux called me — affectionately but accurately — bossyboots.
Have you been called bossy?
Did you take it as a mark of pride?