This morning when I opened up the internet, I saw something on the Google homepage. There was a statement: “Google supports #BanBossy from Lean In & the Girl Scouts. Encourage girls to lead.”
My interest was piqued. What is this? Since I was already on the Google homepage, I did some searching.
Sheryl Sandberg–COO of Facebook and author of Lean In–is partnering with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez to ban the word “bossy.” Sandberg argues that “bossy” is a negative dig that stops girls from pursuing leadership roles.
Their mission, according to BanBossy.com is to encourage girls to become leaders despite being labeled as “bossy”:
When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.
Personally, I think it’s awesome that these women are coming together to help empower young girls and let them know that they are smart, capable, and can do great things. As a woman, I’ve seen how our behaviors often fall victim to the “double standard rule”. If we work hard, we’re called “overachievers”. If a man works hard, he’s called “dedicated”. If we choose to work out of the home, we’re branded as “bad, selfish moms”. If a man works late hours, he’s seen as a “good provider”. In that sense, I think the work these women are doing is commendable.
But…maybe banning a word isn’t where the problem lies. Maybe we should be teaching our girls how to stand up against negative comments and criticism instead of shielding them from every little thing. Don’t get me wrong; there are certain things I want to make sure my child is shielded from for as long as possible. What parent doesn’t? However are we really doing our jobs to bring up self-assured, strong young women if we don’t teach them how to deal with backlash?
My parents always taught my sisters and me to stand up for ourselves and to not listen to other’s just because it was what was “popular”. They taught us to think for ourselves while also showing respect for other people. If someone didn’t like us or had something mean to say, that was fine; we would continue on and be—as my mother always said—“so sweet that honey drips from your finger”.
Yes, it’s tough to stand up to bullies and to be your own person. But I think that having a true sense of self is important. If a child is shielded by too much and only hears “politically correct” speech, how will they handle life in the real world where everyone doesn’t hold hands and sing Kumbaya?
Or maybe, it has nothing to do with banning a word or teaching your children to be self-assured. Maybe it just boils down to teaching your kids to not be jerks. Teach them tact, maybe. Or, heaven forbid, to think before they speak.
But, what do I know? Maybe I’m just a bossy overachiever.