Lean Back, Sheryl Sandburg!
So many very talented writers and pundits weighed in on this subject last week, and I’m a bit behind the times, but Aunt Bossy just couldn’t let this horror slip by.
As many of you know, Sheryl Sandburg, super elite and super rich CEO of Facebook and author of “Lean In,” a book based on the premise that women lack power in the workplace, has started a campaign called “Ban Bossy.” (No, they are not talking about banning me. They aren’t that deluded!)
Ms. Sandburg, and the elite women who have joined her in this campaign are under the impression that girls are such weak and overly sensitive little creatures that, when someone calls them “bossy”, they fold. It ruins their life, evidently much more effectively than any other imaginable attack. Ms. Sandburg thinks this is such a serious problem that she has called for the banning of the word “bossy.”
As you might suspect Aunt Bossy does not approve of banning words. None of them. Really. Is it so awful to be blind that it can no longer be said out loud and we must use “visually impaired?” Is it so awful to be a garbage collector, usually a decent union job, that it must be changed to “sanitation engineer?” Is “his” such an offensive pronoun and women so weak that they can’t accept it as a generic word, that it has to be changed to the grammatically horrifying and plural “their?”
“Crippled” should not be considered a damning word. “Differently abled” is such sissy talk. I am crippled in many areas of my life.
I’m waiting for the dog to be called a “Doberperson” and am glad that technology has taken care of the offensive “Walkman.”
You get the picture.
Instead of banning a perfectly good word, I think we should be teaching young women and young men to define themselves rather than let other people do it for them, negative or positive. We should teach kids to stand up for themselves and not run to the censoring authorities every time their little feelings are hurt.
If we would teach kids how to communicate with others, including dealing with difficult people, life would be so much sweeter for everyone.
When someone calls a girl “bossy” she should ask herself why and consider if she is being domineering, which is unattractive and ineffective in both men and women. If she decides she isn’t, she should blow off the criticism and go about her business.
Although I get paid to be bossy and move people out of their comfort zones, I consider my “bossiness” tongue in cheek – a generosity of spirit that allows me to use my experience and energy to help other people. When I am not coaching others on how to give a speech I am doing something bossy like directing people to the service phones when I see them waiting in line for help at the airport. That is often a risky proposition and sometimes I get a bit too enthusiastic for people’s comfort. Sorry.
I also leave public bathrooms cleaner than I found them, pick up litter and straighten up the hotel room for the maid (aka housekeeper), which is a form of bossiness applied to strangers without their awareness. All of this is done out of a sincere desire to help.
Oops, I imagine that wanting to help is too girly for Ms. Sandburg, so I better be more careful.
P.S. And since Beyoncé is one of the main spokeswomen for this group, may I suggest she could set a better example for all young girls, and especially black girls, by not trying to morph into a lustier version of Jennifer Aniston. Bossy is the least of what she has to worry about.
Weak and Wobbly
Dear Aunt Bossy,
I have a friend, who is really more of an acquaintance because he doesn’t show his true self. We have spent a lot of time together.
He disappointed me greatly and I felt used and I talked about it to other people. Even though I was telling the truth, I know that is bad and I feel terrible about it.
What should I do?
Do nothing. However don’t do THAT again.
Aunt Bossy is Susan Murphy, an internationally known Communication Skills Coach who adores spending every winter and spring in Beaufort. Ask for advice @ Bossymurph@mac.com.