Is Being Bossy Bad?
Religion & Liberty Online

Is Being Bossy Bad?

The newest celeb campaign (after coming out against bullying, getting kids to eat their veggies and to go outside and play) is to stop women from being bossy. Actually, what they seem to want to do is ban the illusion of bossiness; that is, men are leaders and women are bossy.

Well, that’s silly. And bossy. (yes, it’s a real website) says:

When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.”

Um, okay. Is being bossy bad?

I don’t mean being mean. I don’t mean being rude or uncivil. I don’t mean lording your authority over someone.

BanBossy is a joint creation of the Girl Scouts of USA and LeanIn.Org, a nonprofit founded by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s CEO and author of the book Lean In. BanBossy is worried that girls’ self-esteem is at stake, and if we don’t teach them proper conflict resolution, to go after toy companies for promoting gender stereotypes, and play football, we girls are all just going to melt into a puddle of self-doubt, self-pity and quiet resignation that we will never make it as the mousy creatures we are.

As my bossy mom would say, “Horsefeathers.”

The Federalist’s (who is forthright; is that bossy?) lists the 7 most ridiculous things about trying to ban bossy.

  1. Telling us to ban words is un-American. And bossy.
  2. Girls are strong. Stop babying them.
  3. “Bossy” isn’t gender-specific to begin with. Why are you pointing at us girls?
  4. Tina Fey is a bossypants and I love her.
  5. We need words for those who are unduly assertive.
  6. Making people feel bad for using certain words is pretty bossy.
  7. Not everyone is a leader. Why are we shaming shy people?

Women like Beyonce, Christiane Amanpour and Sheryl Sandberg didn’t get where they are by being meek, deferential or spineless. While I don’t necessarily hold Beyonce up as a role model for young women (see her soft porn website), one can’t dispute she’s a successful businesswoman. And to be a success like that, sometimes, a girl has to be bossy.

Instead of banning “bossy,” let’s ban superficial celebrity campaigns. Leave the raising of girls to parents.

And I don’t care if that sounds bossy.



Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.