Why I'm Not Really Into Lean In's Ban Bossy Campaign
I love Lean-In, I love Sheryl Sandberg. I love the message she sends to women about stepping up and getting into their careers. I think her work and her perspective are super motivational. However, I watched the #banbossy videos and felt kind of underwhelmed. I stand by the message that we need to let girls be leaders, and we as a society should support and empower that desire for leadership. That being said…I wonder if being bossy is such a bad thing.
When I was growing up I always thought I learned my ‘bossy’ behavior from having a strong mother. And while I picked up a lot of tips from MA (my mom) I was really shocked in high school to learn that my aggressive behavior was always part of my personality. I found a copy of my “baby book”, which read: Erin is naturally aggressive. When one of the older boys took a toy she was playing with she went over and took it right back.
Being bossy, deliberate, and aggressive are all negative characteristics when they are referring to women. Women aren't supposed to be aggressive. We are supposed to be feminine, demure, and submissive creatures. But we aren't.
I think the deeper problem lies with not what we are calling girls, but what we are expecting of them. We show them images of women in secondary positions, yet we teach them to be leaders and aspiring CEOs. Disney can’t even put two leading women on their film poster (Frozen). It makes you think, how are we supposed to suggest girls should be the main characters of their lives if they aren't even represented in the advertising campaign for the female-empowering animated film of the year?
Is the word “bossy” the problem? Or are there other messages that are squashing girls’ will to lead? Maybe it’s the billions of ads that tell them to be skinnier, maybe its their mother's botox, or maybe it’s that we have never had a female president. I think having a conversation and a dialogue about what language we use and how to apply it to gender is amazing, but I think we owe little girls a whole lot more than banning the word bossy.