The “Ban Bossy” campaign is one designed with the best of intentions, but it’s a campaign that reinforces regressive ideas that may do women more harm than good.
While young girls should certainly be encouraged to speak their minds and not be afraid of repercussions that come from having a strong opinion, there is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive – the word “bossy” tends to lean toward the latter.
This difference is so often
overlooked, but it’s essentially what holds people, particularly women, back in multiple dimensions of life.
By telling young girls it’s OK to be “bossy,” we’re not really setting them up to be effective leaders.
What we’re essentially telling them is that if they want to succeed in accomplishing their goals, it’s OK to devalue other people’s feelings, because a strong woman who wants to succeed in the workplace shouldn’t care about the feelings of others. This is a very unhealthy idea in the 21st century that creates unnecessary dichotomies that reinforce
foolish notions of “the working woman” and the “homebodied woman.”
Compassion – whether in the workplace or any other dimension – should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather something that is encouraged and taught to boys and girls.
By this assumption, a woman who wants to be valued by society for her work must thus embrace the stone cold traits of “bossiness” and stand firm by ideas if she does not want to be seen as inviting those around her to bulldoze her ideas do the ground; while a woman who exudes traits of warmth must obviously want to be valued by society as a nurturer. But most functional human beings are somewhere in between.
The unspoken implication of this campaign is that effective leaders – or bosses, who are currently predominantly male – carry the traits that come with being “bossy.” Effective leadership is not achieved through “bossiness,” but through listening, cooperation, and caring – acts of compassion – that should not be seen as an invitation to have ideas bulldozed, but rather acts to strengthen leadership.
Furthermore, this campaign seems to discount young boys as well who may not fit the “alpha male” profile of potential leaders.
The leadership gap between men and women in the workplace is certainly real and must be addressed. But perhaps “banning” anything that needs to be taught is not a way to solve the problem.
Perhaps if both men and women were willing to take a little more time to not be bossy, and instead try to first understand the various traits and types of personalities that exist before throwing out campaigns to create leaders, we may have a society that embraces a more diverse crew of leaders.
Divya Kumar is a senior majoring in economics and mass communications.