‘Bossy’ has officially been added to the feminists’ ‘no-no’ list of anti-female words. Sheryl Sandberg, a Facebook executive, partnered with Girl Scouts, Condoleezza Rice, Jane Lynch, Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner, Victoria Beckham and Google to promote the “Ban Bossy” campaign. Sheryl Sandberg claims that with the new “B-word,” women and young girls are typically dismissed as “bossy” when in positions of leadership or trying to assert themselves, whereas men and boys are praised as being commanding and leaders. They believe this word carries a negative and feminine connotation and are hoping to strike it from everyone’s vocabulary when in reference to women.
But the campaign is receiving some backlash from CNN, Forbes, and Matt Walsh’s popular blog, and Time magazine even calls the campaign “misguided.” Ironically, some are calling out the women and their campaign for being…..bossy:
“Making people feel bad for using adjectives is pretty bossy. So wait, all the cool and beautiful girls who are super-popular and wealthy got together and decided that not only were they not going to use a word but that no one else could either? No, that’s not bossy at all, is it.” —Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist
At first sight, the campaign looks like a great effort to help girls become strong and ambitious leaders; however, at second glance, it seems to be another feminist agenda clothed in a pretty, celebrity-saturated mask and one that Christian women can’t fully get on board with. So, before you start quoting Beyonce saying, “I’m not Bossy, I’m the Boss,” consider a few reasons for not banning the “B-word” from your vocabulary,
Because Women Have Bigger Concerns
While women world-wide are struggling to survive, battling against domestic abuse and fighting to get more than a 3rd grade education, celebrities are using hundreds of thousands of dollars to censor an adjective. Time magazine calls out the campaign and Sandberg’s “brand of feminism” for focusing on “policing language rather than bringing attention to important issues that have real impact on women and girls: the lack of affordable childcare, sexual assault, domestic abuse, girls’ lack of access to education worldwide or the gender pay gap, to name just a few.”
I would bet that if the women struggling just to obtain even a semblance of equality in their culture heard about this campaign they would say, “Really, this is what the women of America are fighting for?” They might find it preposterous or be grieved to hear that all that money and resources are being used for a word, while they’re watching their daughter sold into slavery or hearing their baby crying because she doesn’t get enough food. They would probably ask themselves, “If feminists are for helping women and empowering women, why aren’t they helping me? Why aren’t they using this time and energy to help me get food, education, healthcare?”
With such injustices, poverty, and needs overwhelming women around the world, it seems like there are bigger battles for us to fight than the adjective “bossy,” including our own sin.
Because Some Women Are Bossy
It’s a fact that that men, women, girls and boys can accurately be described as acting bossy, “given to ordering people around, highhanded, domineering, overly authoritative, dictatorial, abrasive.” The “B-word” isn’t a bad adjective, it’s a bad character trait and a sin that needs to be worked out in all of us. But it’s becoming taboo to say that a person, especially a woman, is doing something wrong or being a bad leader. Feminists try to hail women as the ultimate leaders, the perfect bosses; but in truth, women are flawed because women are human. There is no perfect leader, male or female, only Christ.
When I was a little girl, I was called bossy. I tried to take over the play groups, tell the younger kids what they were doing wrong and would order them to do what I wanted. I wasn’t being assertive or displaying “executive leadership skills,” as Sandberg would prefer you to say. Nope, I was being just plain bossy and the other kids and adults told me so. While they could have handled my actions in a kinder and more loving way, that didn’t negate the fact that I was still acting sinfully. Calling a girl “Ms. Bossypants” doesn’t help her become a better person or a better leader, but neither does making her feel good about her bad behavior by calling it “leadership skills.” The real problem never gets solved because neither of these method deals with the core of the issue — a sinful heart.
As I raise my daughter, I hope to raise a strong woman, capable of being a kind leader, but if I see traits of bossiness in her, I don’t want to help her continue in that direction by ignoring her sin; I want to lovingly guide her and teach her how to become a better leader, a more Christ-like woman who is capable of servant leadership. I hope that she grows to become a confident woman, not because her assurance is in herself and her “leadership skills” but because she knows she’s a daughter of the King.
Sandberg and her celebrity helpers are right about a couple of things: women don’t want to be called “bossy” and we should do what it takes to stop being called the “B-word.” But, as Matt Walsh states, “We concentrate so much on eradicating negative words while forgetting to address the behavior that the words describe.” The focus shouldn’t be on banning the word, but banning that sin in our lives. We should be focusing on raising up women and girls who embrace virtues that lead to holiness: Humility, meekness, modesty, obedience, compliance, submissiveness.
Some feminists would balk at these traits, but they shouldn’t have negative connotations in our minds because they portray qualities that are valuable in God’s sight. (Ps. 18:27; 147:6; Prov. 3:34; 11:2; Isa.66:2; Mt. 5:5; 18:4; Eph. 4:1-3; Ja.4:6-7; 1Pet.5:5) God even uses them to describe holiness, a godly wife, and the beautiful spirit of a woman. (Eph. 5:22-30; Col.5:22-24; 1 Tim.6:11; Ja.3:17; 1Pet.3:3-5) Christian women should have a problem with the word ‘bossy,’ not because it’s anti-women but because it’s anti-godliness.
Our battle isn’t against a word, it’s against corrupted and depraved hearts that need Christ to make us more like him.
What are your thoughts on the “Ban Bossy” campaign? How did the “B-word” impact you growing up?
I’m pretty sure that assertive boys are called “ADHD.”
To disagree with one of your points, I think it is quite possible to champion multiple women’s rights causes at the same time. Working to increase the respect given to female leadership in our developed nation does not exclude someone from also championing affordable childcare, domestic abuse prevention, increased access to education for women, shrinking the gender pay gap, etc. Also, I think calling attention to subtle aggressions against women is important – a lot of men (and some conservative women) are completely oblivious to their sexism. So, the campaign is not simply about semantics, it’s about equal treatment in the workplace – female leaders are too often dismissed with name-calling (e.g. “bossy” or the real b-work).
Well said and I couldn’t agree more. in addition, Godly traits such as humbleness, meekness, obedience and submissiveness is what all women (and men to a certain extent) should strive for and these qualities should be reflected particularly in a husband/wife dynamic. Often times, women in leadership roles are subjected to nasty, sexist comments and ideologies that most men could go their entire professional careers and never deal with. I agree with Jared in saying the campaign is bigger than the semantics, and just promoting young girls/women to not “feel bad” whenever they may need to be their own advocates, just as women in countries all over the world face a host issues most American women have been removed from. Personally, I get the campaign, however the syntax could be arranged differently to give credit to God for being the true boss and that would make it perfect.
I’m a woman in the workforce. On the road non-stop covering the whole US for my business. I am in meetings and board rooms all the time. All that to say – I am the woman that could be the epitome of “bossy” if it weren’t for Christ and the different perspective on my life that knowing HIM gives me – which means I have a different perspective on other people’s lives – which means I am NOT a bossy person because I have a bigger world view.
I 100% agree with everything said and would add that bossy is heart of flesh issue and comes from a place of putting “me” first. Even the campaign slogan they’ve used “I’m not bossy – I am THE boss” is a completely me-first attitude that would grieve God as He is the ONLY boss, yet, in his compassion for us, He became a servant. That is a TRUE boss! Someone who makes himself less so that others will become more. Thats the campaign that should be happening. Thats when heart changes will start impacting women from all races and from all countries and situations.
As for this campaign itself – take that money and start showing people that “I am the boss”, but look at what my actions are saying about what a true boss is. By giving my resources and my time to help women in their real life situations and by listening and caring, those are honest to goodness leadership skills. Whether they know Christ or not, I think every human being can resonate that those are aspects that they would respect in a person and THAT would be someone they would willingly follow. Stop telling people what to say or not say, start showing them.
Sounds to me you’re taking the mans side.