Banning a word, hindering a generation

It’s become drilled into society that millennials are considered one of the most self-serving, uninterested, spoiled generations to ever exist. This comes along with the upbringing we had which included excessive numbers of participation awards and unwarranted bouts of encouragement.

While lifting the spirits of a person can become too much of a good thing at times, belittling another person can be hurtful, demeaning and, in extreme cases, discriminating.

Such is the case for the “Ban Bossy” movement spearheaded by Girl Scouts of America and Lean In, a movement inspired by a nonprofit organization that is “committed to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals,” according to its website.

Though it is clearly meant for empowering and cultivating fortitude in women, it simultaneously degrades and suppresses an already failing counter group of people: men.

The Ban Bossy campaign that began earlier this year seeks to remove the word “bossy” from the English language because of the perceived connotations it puts on women. The website also offers a plethora of information and guidance to parents, young girls, teachers and group leaders.

Aside from the fact that this group is clearly a censorship advocacy campaign, several other problems are tied with its motives.

The word “bossy” gives the instant mental picture of a haughty little girl, hands on waist, barking orders to a group of preschoolers on the playground. This “Ban Bossy” initiative, whether explicit or not, is trying to eliminate the stereotype associated with this demeaning word.

The campaign is basically attempting to debunk the crass idea that, “When a man is in charge, he’s driven, but when a woman’s in charge, she’s bossy.”

But this raises a few other issues that the organization fails to recognize. What is wrong with being bossy? Why not encourage girls to be bossy? Where do the boys fit into this equation?

A main problem in this organization’s efforts is its presentation of ideas. In the campaign’s video, it employs celebrities like former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, pop artist Beyoncé or Jane Lynch from Fox’s “Glee,” all women who thrive on the idea of taking charge in their own ways.

While it may appear inspiring and glamorous, their facts are far from credible. Neither the website nor the video cites actual statistics from sources. For example, the video states that by middle school grades, girls are less interested in leadership than boys simply because they don’t want to be labeled as bossy. It may be intuitive that physiologically many boys are more inclined to take leadership positions instinctually, but the sources to back up their specific arguments are never stated.

The problem lies not in the lack of attribution but in the very nature of the accusation itself. While it supposedly sheds light on the fact that girls tend to be pushed to the side or are afraid of taking charge, it is also demeaning boys on two different levels.

First, it assumes that it is in fact boys who suppress girls from stepping into a leadership position. In reality, many children do not possess the traits of a strong leader, both girls and boys. In addition, girls are often the ones to put down others of their own kind for a variety of reasons from reaching their leadership maturity at a young age.

The cure for this scenario lies in the hands of elementary school teachers or parents, who should foster all sorts of leadership traits from every child.

Secondly, and more importantly, it insinuates that the same situation does not happen to boys — as in, boys are already leaders and have absolutely no trouble coming into their own like girls do.

This is completely inaccurate and misleading to assume that just one gender lacks the appropriate motivation, encouragement and confidence to reach their goals and achieve success.

Not everyone is meant to be a leader. Without followers, the very essence of a leader would not exist. However, many boys also struggle at a young age in developing leadership, not just girls.

The campaign has the right intentions of empowering and motivating children to reach higher in life, but it ironically patronizes and unnecessarily spotlights one particular group in the process, and that is discrimination.

The best solution here would be to encourage both genders equally and let the individuals discover their own gifts, whether it comes off as bossy or not. As women continue to seek equality within this society, the only way is to play fair with the boys, not try to defeat them.

While we might still live in a male-dominated society, it is up to both genders to hone their own sense of self-worth and leadership capabilities, not just one gender over the other.

Perhaps a rebuttal revolution in favor of the word “bossy” would strike up a conversation across the gender lines instead of pointing the finger in one direction or the other. Why not be bossy? It can also insinuate the likes of someone with a sharp tongue, insane tenacity and the gall to believe they will succeed.

Empowering both genders, not just one, to seek and grow their individual gifts in leadership or another trait makes for a more rounded, less vengeful society. Go ahead — be bossy.