Be Bossy. Or Not. Whatever.

There’s a debate raging. Well, it’s been raging for awhile, but there’s a latest wave in the headlines.

Some folks are encouraging us to ban bossy and to “encourage girls to lead.” In response, others advocate that we should not ban bossy, but instead encourage girls to be bossier.

This is a good conversation to have.

Frankly, my position is this:

  • Whatever your gender, don’t be a [insert colorful word of choice]
  • Whatever your gender, don’t make judgements or assumptions about others based on their actual or perceived gender.

It should be that simple, but unfortunately it is not.

There are entrenched inequalities, hard fought battles, and deep wounds which aren’t easy to heal.

If any person says they don’t feel comfortable sharing their opinion for fear of being branded and outcast, that is a problem. Regardless of your personal experience with bossy, it’s important to recognize others’ truths. For some, it’s a trigger word which evokes decades of shaming, fear, or oppression.

I’m not prepared to tell any person they shouldn’t be tilting after bossy if they feel so moved. We all crusade after our demons.

But this negative reaction to bossy isn’t everyone’s experience. Some people feel pumped by bossy, some people are proud to own bossy, some people think, aw, yeah, I do I want.

Others are neutral.

These perspectives are equally valid.

So now we have a fight about bossy. Should we ban bossy? Not ban bossy? If all perspectives are valid, then who’s right and who’s wrong? Is there one group we should protect or defer to over the other? If all perspectives are valid, that leaves only one possible solution.

Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong.

Does that mean we shouldn’t argue about it? Absolutely not. Let’s talk about it. Let’s fight about it. Let’s debate it until no one has the energy to bring it up any more.

Yeah folks disagree. And that is great.

But in all the debate and discussion I would urge this: remember that it’s really about people.

It’s not about boys vs. girls or women vs. men. As much as it is about gender, it’s not about gender.

What this conversation is really all about is making sure that every single person – every one – can be the best person they can be. Whatever words you use or don’t use, let’s strive for that.

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