Thursday, March 20, 2014

And That's "Ms. Bossy"!



Bossy - adj 1. to be boss-like; 2. willing to take charge and given to ordering people about; 3. the little girl on the playground who makes all her friends play her game her way; 4. name usually associated with the cutest and most productive cow in the milk shed...

Continuing on with the theme from yesterday, let's discuss another word we are not supposed to use anymore. Henceforth you shall never use the word "bossy" when referring to girls who assert themselves. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg along with First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyonce, and other high profile celebrity women have launched a new public service campaign called Ban Bossy because using that word is the root of all of women's problems like pay disparity, glass ceilings, and [fill-in-the-blank]. If only...

Okay, the definition above is mine and I will add that it can also mean one who is assertive and willing to take charge. I do not see what is wrong with that. Frankly, I can think of so many other words that are used on a regular basis to describe women that I would like banned, [I won't list them here, but you know the ones I mean.], but "bossy" is not one of them. I kind of like the word "bossy". My mother is "bossy" and my grandmothers were "bossy". My aunt who owned her own business was certainly "bossy". I guess I can say I come from a long line of "bossy" women, so I am proud of my "bossy" lineage. But now, I am supposed to feel ashamed of that I embrace my lineage.

What are we teaching our young women these days? The messages are so mixed that it's hard to tell what we are supposed to be. But banning words we don't like because it might hurt our feelings, especially a word like "bossy" is just weak and whiny. Michelle Malkin wrote a wonderful response to this campaign Ban Bossy? No - Be Bossy! and I must say it is spot on. Like Ms. Malkin, I was a very shy and compliant child afraid of my own opinion and not fitting in. And like her, I grew frustrated with, as Malkin puts it, "...liberal white women...pretending to speak for me". [Yeh, Gloria Steinem, I talking to you!] And, like Malkin, I began to realize that "...I wasn’t held back by how others perceived me. I was held back by how I perceived myself." And in that moment of clarity, I embraced my "inner bossy" and took responsibility with who I am and what I think. I took ownership of me.

In the famous Helen Reddy feminist anthem of 1975, the lyric is "I am Woman, Hear me Roar", not "I am woman, hear me whine about how I can't achieve anything because someone may call me "bossy"...

27 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Very, very well said Bev! I concur wholeheartedly. :)

Tennessee Jed said...

never felt you were bossy, Bev! :) Seriously though, this campaign is all about p.c. and politics; nothing more. Maybe it's "code" for "Republicans continue to wage war on women, and taunt them as bossy."

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, I never thought of "bossy" as a bad word aimed at women either. It strikes me as a very minor word. If I was going to pick a word to try and stop it would be the "b-word", but then in the 1990s a lot of women embraced that word, or the "c-word".

But if we're going to do that, then we should ban one word per letter of the alphabet, so no one feels left out. :-D

Anthony said...

I concede that bossy is normally a word negatively used to describe assertive females. However, launching a campaign against it is a little crazy. The problem is the social stigma, not the word itself.

Also, while its true women are underrepresented in leadership positions, them being in said positions is increasingly common and isn't causing any controversy.

Its quite possible that like uppity, bossy will eventually fall out of fashion outside of talk radio circles. Or perhaps as Bev and Malkin suggest, it will be appropriated.

BevfromNYC said...

Thanks Andrew - I always get a bee in my feminist bonnet when strong women make these weak gestures. As a matter of fact, classrooms have been trending for years against boys taking center stage while girls wait in the background. Girls are called on more and more girls are finish college than their male counterparts. So All Hail Bossy Women...

Okay, maybe "bee in my bonnet" should be banned too. How rude!

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, 10J, it is all p.c and politics. And frankly to me it is just another manifestation of the real liberal "War On Women". Once again they prove that "we poor little womenfolk" are too weak to be able to handle name calling. so stop it. It' demeaning to women.

But in my "Bad Things to Call Women" Code book that I received at puberty, "bossy" is right there at the top of the chapter. But as we have learned from the race hustlers, these code words can be used as a term of endearment.

And I am so bossy!! I just do it so well that no one notices...;-)

tryanmax said...

It's like I said yesterday, the "Ban Bossy" campaign stems from the false notion that there is a trade-off between assertiveness and femininity. It comes from women who are copying the worst examples of male leadership because they think that's the ticket through the glass ceiling. If I had to guess, I would assume these women already have a low impression of men, so what the rest of us recognize as the worst kind of male behavior, they focus on as "typical."

Now, there is research that suggests bad, almost antisocial behavior is rewarded in the corporate environment, and it seems to get worse the bigger the firm. But that's a cultural flaw that extends well beyond just sexism. Zeroing in on "bossy" to fix corporate culture is like trying to clear a landfill by picking out just bottle caps. I should add that government culture isn't too different. So there's another reason to hold the campaign suspect. What it's founders have identified as "social" problems are really just problems in their own, screwed-up spheres.

As to the claim that no one complains about bossy men behind their backs, well it falsifies itself.

I do agree that "bossy" has mostly negative connotations. What surprises me is that it has a gender implication. I remember being told to not be bossy as a child, and it rolls right off my tounge when I scold my four-year-old son. Clearly, I missed the memo. This is one of those self-fulfilling things where the women claiming that it is gender-specific are actually making it so themselves.

P.S. Not to be bossy, but the Michelle Malkin link is broken.

P.P.S. "Uppity" just sounds weird and antiquated. That's my first impression lo-o-ong before "racist" crosses my mind. Same with things like "colored" for black and "queer" for gay. Becoming old fashioned is the best fate for slurs. Something which anti-word campaigns disrupt. Keeping a word edgy keeps it around.

BevfromNYC said...

T-Max - the link is now fixed.

I never really didn't realize that "bossy" was gender specific either, but there are many other words that are. That's why this just seems so lame.

I agree with you that these words are antiquated. Trying to ban words that are already pretty much falling out of use, is like trying to ban horse-drawn carriage rides...oh, wait, Mayor de Blasio is trying to do just that...silly liberals.

BevfromNYC said...

"...while its true women are underrepresented in leadership positions..."

Anthony - I actually dispute this claim. Not by numbers, but by longevity. More women do not make it to the upper echelon because many drop out to have children or frankly because they cannot take the stress. I know many very intelligent, competent women who just decided to leave the rat race because they couldn't take the stress or the hours required (or didn't WANT to). However many of these same women have started their own small businesses. So maybe there are not that many female Fortune 500 CEO's, but there are many, many who are executives in their own lives.

I think now more and more women are being pushed into careers because they are supposed to want to be captains of industry. That's what women of the '70's were told anyway. But it was really about having the choice. Interestingly, that "choice" is now filtering into the men's world too. Men are much more likely to be penalized for temporarily leaving the workforce to stay home and take care of the kids, than women are...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Society as a whole pushes people to "work for the machine." At least since the 1950s, everything is geared toward working for a huge company, getting on the corporate track, moving up and one day being a CEO of said company. Whenever people go another path, people get heartburn about it and dismiss it as playing around. I think it's just the herd mentality mixed with jealousy at those who dared to go out on their own.

The end result is that men and women who leave corporate America are viewed as somehow "off" or not serious, even though those people are taking much greater risks and exercising much greater skill. Last I knew, women opened the majority of small businesses in this country and that says a lot for them.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, Westboro Bastard Church founder Fred Phelps has died. May he spend an eternity rotting in hell, being sodomized by a pitchfork.

tryanmax said...

I read that Phelps was excommunicated by his own church in his last days. I wonder if he had a late epiphany. Sincerely, I hope he repented before his maker. Otherwise, he deserves whatever he gets.

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, I'm not as forgiving about people who live a lifetime of evil.

I had heard they excommunicated him. Personally, I was hoping that as with the Ancient Egyptians, that they would bury his cult with him.

Anthony said...

Andrew and Bev,

Maybe you guys have access to better or more recent numbers than me, but below is one of the more recent, comprehensive articles on the subject I was able to find woman own 29% of small business and co-own another 17%.
------------------

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/business_ownership/cb10-184.html

In 2007, women owned 7.8 million businesses and accounted for 28.7 percent of all businesses nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners. These firms generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, about 3.9 percent of all business receipts nationwide. (See Table 1 [Excel].)

Businesses owned equally by men and women numbered 4.6 million firms (17.0 percent of all businesses) and generated $1.3 trillion in receipts (4.2 percent of all receipts).
-------------------------------
I agree with Bev's point that women's balancing of work/family life is a big reason they are underrepresented in Fortune 500 companies and that quite a few are starting small business (double the rate of men according to the Census Bureau) but I disagree with Andrew's point about people looking down on the self employed/small business owners.

I think people tend to work for big corporations not because they view entrepreneurs as kooks or delude themselves into thinking that they are going to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, but because they figure big companies are safer. That was probably true once upon a time, but I'm not so sure its true now.

Anthony said...

As for Phelps, good riddance to bad rubbish. Be interesting to see what his cult does now that he's kicked off.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Here's what I read some time ago:

Women-owned firms account for 40% of all privately held firms, employ more than 13 million people, and generate $1.9 trillion in sales, according to the National Association for Women Business Owners. However, most of these businesses (97%) have revenues below the million-dollar mark.

LINK

I seem to remember similar data from the Census in 2011, but I haven't done the research in some time. Who knows though. Either way, women are a significant force in the small business world.

On looking down on going your own route, I have no statistics, but I can tell you that everywhere I've been throughout my life there has been incredible disdain (from parents, teachers, people who work in big firms, judges) of anyone who doesn't have "a real job," by which they mean working for a big,"reputable" company. It's the same disdain I see by the same people for anyone who is an artist or writer or musician or actor... "get a real job!"

AndrewPrice said...

On the Bastards, I suspect nothing will change. They are nuts and they will continue to be nuts. They have a mission and don't need their leader to keep them on track.

AndrewPrice said...

Also, in case I haven't said it, because I think I haven't, Bev is absolutely right that it doesn't speak well for "strong women" that supposedly using the word "bossy" is enough to derail their careers. I've never met a strong, competent woman who would have let something like that even slow her down.

Kit said...

All I can muster over the passing of Fred Phelps is pity. What a sad, pathetic human being.

BevfromNYC said...

I think people tend to work for big corporations not because they view entrepreneurs as kooks or delude themselves into thinking that they are going to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, but because they figure big companies are safer.

Anthony - That is very true. People would join companies and stay with them their entire careers moving up the ladder. (Of course that was also the time where one could start in the mail room and end up in the boardroom without a fancy college degree too, but that's another discussion). That just isn't so anymore. It may be because people are working longer or that it's easier to move relocate for better opportunities. But where at one time having a work history where one jumped from job to job was interpreted as "unstable", but now it is "experience". That's good.

But what I meant was that men leaving the work force to care for the home or children is still fairly new and at this point I think it counts more against men that it does against women.

BevfromNYC said...

"Bev is absolutely right..."

Andrew - LOL! That is as far as I got. I am putting that on a t-shirt If only more men thought like you...;-)

BevfromNYC said...

And about Phelps. The sooner his name is struck from human memory, the better. May his family see the error of their ways. I wouldn't want to have to pay their Karmic debt...

CrisD said...

Amen, Bev. We are bossy over here and the men appreciate it, dammit! They love it! (We are also fun :) )
Tx for getting this on the record!!!!

BevfromNYC said...

Thanks CrisD! We bossy women need to give these whiny women what fore! I can't stand whiny. And we are fun, aren't we? Winey, yes, whiny, no!

Tennessee Jed said...

regarding the corporate world, I agree with Bev and Anthony. I worked a 30 yr. career with one Fortune 500 Company. Met my wife there. When I started, the saying was "you won't get rich there, but you will always have a job." It was true that people who moved around tended to increase their salary faster. There was a glass ceiling in place, and my wife could regale you with stories of women in the corporate workplace. But, she did rise to senior V.P., and we both hd good enough careers and were savvy enough investors that I could retire at age 52 due to health reasons. I think what changed my company (financial services - insurance industry) was Wall Street. The emphasis became on massaging quarterly stock prices, and reducing expenses which usually meant reducing staff. So much for job safety. The last 5 years I worked sucked all the fun out of what had long been a fun business.

Kate W said...

It seems like a misguided attempt to reclaim 'womens strength' or something along that line. Although I do wonder how much is held in regional connotations with respect to the words positivity or negativity.

You've all probably read the study that showed that a group of people were asked to rate a manager who had given qualities. The only thing that changed between groups was the gender of the managers name (they were reading a resume). The study showed that people tended to rate women who were listed as assertive more negatively and men who were assertive positively.

That was a study of college students, most if not all of whom hadn't worked for very many people yet in their lives. A different study showed that for all those people who'd had at least one female manager, the difference in opinion on traits virtually disappeared.

As a complete aside, I love that more men feel free to be stay at home dads.

BevfromNYC said...

Kate W - First of all, welcome! Yes, I see it as misguided and weak. But then I'm an old school "feminist" who learned to take the "bossy" label and wear it with pride. And it does not surprise me inexperienced college students would see anyone who is the boss as "bossy". I've seen that in real time. And I have seen alpha female "bossy" bosses eat them alive. It was a wonderful thing to behold (in a very good way).

I also love that men are feeling more comfortable at taking the roll of stay at home dad.

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