This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rochester chapter.
When a man is taking charge and being dominant and showing initiative, he’s seen as strong. He gets work done, and he encompasses all the necessary characteristics of being a leader. He’s a boss.
But when a woman is put in charge, exuding the same qualities and strengths, she’s not seen in the same, positive light. She’s described by one word: bossy. She’s seen as a b-tch, not only by her male coworkers but sometimes by her female ones, as well.
Even though both genders are behaving the same way, the woman is seen in a negative light. Rather than being described as strong, she’s described as bossy. And why is that such a bad thing?
There’s been a movement to ban the word bossy, saying that the word sends the wrong message to young girls, making them shy away from leadership roles. But rather than teach them to be scared of the word by censoring it, girls should be taught to embrace being bossy and being a boss.
Bossy is described as someone who takes charge. They know how to be a leader, delegating tasks to others and knowing how to get things done. If bossy is seen in this positive, efficient way, then there’s no reason to shy away from the word.
Here are three reasons why we should embrace being bossy, instead of shying away from it.
1. The negative connotation of “bossy” is rooted in our misogyny society, and it’s time to change that.
The reason why bossy is viewed so badly is linked to the gender role assigned to women. Women are supposed to be kind and nurturing, and having a woman-in-charge deviates from the norm. The issue isn’t so much with the word itself, but the societal implications of it. Being called bossy is just another way of telling women that they don’t belong in the workplace.
But women do belong in the workplace. Women have a right to any profession they want, and that includes CEO. Being called a bossy woman is just another way for society to discourage this type of advancement, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing what you want to do. As Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal and author of #GIRLBOSS, writes, “My advice to aspiring #GIRLBOSSes: As hard as it is, stop caring so much about what other people think … Recognize what is your dream. And then put everything you have into that … Everything you have control over in your world should feed that dream and make you feel like a #GIRLBOSS!”
2. Being bossy isn’t bad.
As Amy Poehler puts it, “I just love bossy women … To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.” When you take away the societal implications of being called “bossy,” meaning the notion that you’re a b-tch, there’s nothing wrong with being called bossy.
Embrace what being bossy means and that’ll change how society sees the word. Because why should qualities of ambition and strength be looked down upon if you’re a woman? Take away that negative connotation the word has and spin it in a positive direction.
3. Find strength in reclaiming bossy.
If the price to pay for having women in leadership roles is being called bossy, then so be it, because at least a woman is still in charge. Words have a lot of power and there’s certainly an argument in wanting to ban the word, but instead of banning it, “Reclaim the word. Embrace it. Stand together and say, ‘We’re Bossy — What of it?’ Because it’s true, and not always a bad thing.”
There’s a worry about being likable when a woman is in charge, wanting to please everyone and not appear to be bossy. But as Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche says, “What our society teaches young girls … is that idea that likability is an essential part of you … you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likable that you’re supposed to hold back sometimes … don’t be too pushy because you have to be likable. And I say that’s bullsh-t … If you start thinking about being likable you are not going to tell your story honestly … and that’s going to ruin your story, so forget about likability.”
Don’t let the idea of being bossy stop you from pursuing leadership roles. There will always be words, even those worse than bossy, that are made to stop women from being in charge. There’s always going to be a negative connotation, but don’t let that make you shy away–stand up, take charge, and don’t let people make you feel bad about doing so.
Don’t be afraid of being bossy and being the boss. There’s nothing wrong with being both.