Sisterhood of the traveling bossy pants

“Sheryl Sandberg and her friends think ‘bossy’ (which she calls ‘the other b-word’) is worth ginning up an entire media campaign over — even enlisting White House officials and cabinet members. But women with unpopular ideas and opinions face a daily barrage of unprintable c-words, f-words, s-words and w-words that are far worse. If we launched media campaigns to ban every ugly word that comes our way, we wouldn’t have time to get anything else done. …

“Girls, here’s the truth about the Ban Bossy campaign: It’s being spearheaded by a privileged group of elite feminists who have a very vested interest in stoking victim politics and exacerbating the gender divide. They actually encourage dependency and groupthink while paying lip service to empowerment and self-determination. They traffic in bogus wage disparity statistics, whitewashing the fact that what’s actually left of that dwindling pay gap is due to the deliberate, voluntary choices women in the workforce make. This includes which industries women enter, how long they stay, what levels they attain, and when and how they decide to start a family. The supposedly abhorrent unequal outcomes that ‘progressive’ women want to eradicate don’t always come down to sexism. It’s not just a gender thing. It’s a freedom thing.

“I want young girls and young ladies to know that whatever adversity you might face, there has never been a better time to be an American woman. You have more educational, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities than generations of women before you. You have more flexibility, more choices and more ways to spread your messages and make yourself heard than ever before.

“Don’t just be bossy. Be your own boss. … You don’t need the sensitivity brigade to protect you from criticism or attacks. You need to learn from them and rise above them, not censor them. And if anyone tells you to tone it down, do the opposite: Crank it up and don’t look back. That’s an order!” –Michelle Malkin, My Message to Girls: Be Bossy!

“Stop crying about how bad you have it, ladies. (I said ladies because feminists hate that word.) You know what they call guys who are bossy?  It’s not always ‘assertive.’  Sometimes it’s the p-word that ends with ‘rick’ or the a-hole word. You don’t hear us writing boo-boo pieces in the Wall Street Journal about that.

“Here’s more from these two victims of our oppressive male-dominated culture that likes nothing more than keeping women in their place: ‘Despite earning the majority of college degrees, women make up just 19% of the U.S. Congress, 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 10% of heads of state. Most leadership positions are held by men, so society continues to expect leadership to look and act male and to react negatively when women lead.’

“Some of that may be because of how we see women. But we see men in a certain way too. When young men turn 18, to use just one example, they have to sign up with Selective Service. Young women don’t have to sign up. Yes, they could go fight — but only if they choose to. Or they could go to college and study French literature. … I don’t hear Sandberg or Chavez complaining about that kind of inequality.

“If there’s a noise in the house in the middle of the night, a woman might turn to her husband and say, ‘What was that? Check it out.’ Can you imagine a guy turning to his wife and saying, ‘I think someone may be in the house. Go downstairs and find out what’s going on, it may be a burglar.’ I don’t hear Sandberg and Chavez complaining about that, either.” –Bernard Goldberg, The Other B-Word

“Ms. Sandberg tells the harrowing tale of being labeled as bossy by a teacher in ninth grade. She says this experience damaged her emotionally and caused her immense grief. … A very tragic incident, no doubt, but one thought occurs to me: what if the teacher called her bossy because she was pompous, arrogant, and pushy? After all, this is the woman who would grow up and attempt to ban innocuous phrases from our vocabulary. It would appear, ironically, that her teacher has been vindicated.

“Really contemplate the arrogance here. The propagators of Ban Bossy have universally declared, without a shred of proof or coherent reasoning, that the word ‘bossy’ is sexist, and that it’s only used against girls, and that it causes self-esteem issues, and that it has some connection to the lack of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, and that the behavior typically described as bossy is heretofore considered acceptable and admirable, and that nobody is allowed to feel otherwise. This is hubris so extreme it dances close to lunacy. …

“What if — and this is a big if — what if there are fewer women CEOs and politicians because fewer women want to be CEOs and politicians? Is it possible? Could this have, perhaps, something to do with the disparity? What if fewer women meet that particular end because fewer women choose a path that will lead to that end?

“And what if — again, HUGE if — what if women are less likely to be outwardly aggressive because that’s just not a personality trait some women possess? And what if — remember, massive, enormous if — what if we are all called to be leaders in some fashion, but there are different types of leaders? What if it’s actually a really horrible idea to try and force everyone to be Alpha dog, Type A personality, take-charge head honchos?

“What if it’s insulting to women to label the scarcity of female CEOs as some kind of objective evil because it implies that becoming a CEO is a superior goal to which all people should strive? What if you’re not only criticizing society for erecting imaginary barriers to keep women out of the corner offices with the nice desks and the big windows, but you’re also insinuating that women who don’t want those things are somehow selling themselves short or shamefully submitting to the paternalistic structure of our male-dominated society? …

“What if the campaign to Ban Bossy succeeds in rationalizing the narcissistic attitudes of bossy people while also, yet again, shoving everyone into a certain box and telling them what sort of personality traits they ought to exhibit?” –Matt Walsh, Bossy Liberal Feminists Have Just Invented Another Ridiculous Reason to Be Offended

“Clearly, being called bossy didn’t stop Sandberg from succeeding. She’s led a rather privileged life. She was born into a stable, professional family, graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, and earned a Harvard MBA with distinction. She’s now in a highly paid, powerful position at one of the biggest corporations in America. Yet she still seems hurt by a word.

“Get over it. Succeeding, as Sandberg certainly knows, entails defying others’ expectations that you might not have it in you. Successful people, men as well as women, care less about what others think of them than what they believe about themselves. The most successful people have to prove themselves over and over again. It’s what motivates them and keeps them going until they reach the top.

“Living in a protected bubble is no way to succeed. Working your way up any occupational ladder requires acquiring a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love you, especially not those you beat out on your way up. And if you can’t deal with a few harsh words, what happens when you actually fail at something important, as most humans, even great leaders, do at some point in their lives? Learning to pick yourself up after you’ve tried and failed distinguishes the truly successful from the merely lucky.

“Sandberg’s campaign, however well intended, has the effect of treating girls like delicate flowers who will wither at the faintest brush with real life. Protecting girls from words that might damage their fragile self-image isn’t going to produce more leaders – just the opposite. If you can’t take being called bossy, you’re not likely to become a boss.” –Linda Chavez, Ban Bossy, No Way

“Some critics deplore any effort that relies too much on banning a word to solve complicated social problems like sexism. I appreciate that concern, but censorship isn’t the real goal of this effort. Intelligent people will change their own speech habits voluntarily, once they are presented with a reasonable argument. …

“The New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot helpfully suggests ‘reclaiming’ bossy in the way activists have reframed such pejoratives as ‘queer’ and ‘slut’ into labels of defiant pride. ‘Nerd’ and ‘geek,’ she notes, have become ‘words that lots of people are happy to identify with, humble-bragging about their obsessive expertise.’ Indeed, the success of Geek Squad, the computer repair chain, helped that effort.

“I would add such pejorative labels as ‘actin’ white’ or ‘talkin’ white’ among some African-American youths to the self-destructive labels that I, as an African-American parent, would like to ban. But attempts to censor certain words only make the forbidden fruit more desirable. What works for kids of all races and genders are messages that brains and ambition can be cool, too. …

“Raising a son during the past two decades has taught me not only that many girls should be more comfortably assertive but also that more than a few boys should be less obnoxiously bossy.” –Clarence Page, Backlash Against Ban Bossy Campaign

“It’s downright irritating when a bossy billionaire blubbers about the subtle messages embedded in language that impeded her success.

“In The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg lamented that a teacher once told her best friend not to emulate the young and bossy Sandberg. Nobody knows the trouble she’s seen.

“Instead of telling the world which word not to say, Sandberg ought to be telling girls — and boys — a lesson that doesn’t tell them to feel good for just being who they are. Like: Don’t be victims. Or: Don’t be babies.

“Sandberg is dating herself. The only people who use the B-word are children and my 96-year-old mother-in-law. Moreover, today women are likelier than men to go to college. The ratio at private universities is about 40 percent male to 60 percent female. Given the challenges facing adolescent males, especially if they lack skills or a college degree, the new B-word might just be ‘boy.’” –Debra Saunders, How About Banning Bossy Billionaires?

“When I look at the laundry list of obstacles that women face, particularly those of us who do not come from privileged backgrounds, being called bossy doesn’t rank in the top 20. For the record, I’ve been called much, much worse. Any female blogger or television pundit has. But I actually credit the fact that I was called bossy, talkative and mouthy regularly as a child—and had parents who encouraged me to embrace such labels—to playing a key role in the fact that I’m rarely offended by the names I get called when I write a column that someone hates today. In fact, I wonder how much thinner my skin might be if my mother had told my teachers, ‘No one is ever allowed to tell my daughter she talks too much.’ They were allowed to tell me that. But they also knew that they could only tell me that in the context of chatting with friends during a lesson. If a teacher dared try to tell me I was raising my hand too much, they knew, I knew, and everybody knew, they could look forward to a nice long chat with my mom about the fact that no one would stand in the way of her curious, inquisitive, and some might say bossy daughter. …

“When I look back on my life, and the people who made the biggest difference in insuring that someone like me, a woman of color from a non-privileged background, got an opportunity that changed my life, and pushed me closer to equality, they were not people who banned words. They were the guidance counselors who helped me find a way to pay for my college education. The administrator who helped me find additional funding when some of my financial aid fell through and I worried I wouldn’t be able to graduate. The internship coordinators who convinced their bosses to find budgets to pay me so that I could take the internships that set me on my career path today.” –Kelli Goff, Sheryl Sandberg’s Got a Bigger Problem Than Bossy-Gate

“That sort of bossy feminist attempt to outlaw normal life has reached a kind of apotheosis with the pseudo-hit Girls on HBO, a show no one watches but the elite press adores. I wrote at length here about a bossy attempt to bully a reporter after he questioned why the show’s star Lena Dunham was always getting naked when (the subtext of the question) she’s not that attractive. A bossy barrage of shutuppery was unleashed at the suggestion that some nakedness is better than others. But of course, that doesn’t change the fact that, well, some is.

“Compare the bossy Girls bullying to the enjoyable (and sometimes wonderful) show Sherlock, also on the BBC. Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) got married to Mary Morstan last season and the part was cast with Freeman’s real-life lover Amanda Abbington. Abbington is a perfectly presentable and attractive lady, but it’s hard to imagine an American production that would have allowed one of its central heroes to marry anyone who was not a drop-dead gorgeous model-style stunner. …

“But I’ve noticed something interesting on Sherlock. The part of Mary is so well written as a lovely, charming, gentle, caring and womanly woman — and Abbingdon does such a good job radiating wifely affection and appeal in the part — that after a while she becomes quite beautiful to at least this viewer’s eye.

“Any guy who has ever fallen in love with a not-gorgeous but incredibly feminine, kind and charming woman knows that this is very true to life. It’s amazing how lovely such a woman becomes once you get to know her. Almost kind of magical really. The fact that writers and actors can make that startling phenomenon take place right there on fictional television suggests it may be a function of the male brain. We see a woman like Mary who would make such a gentle, affectionate and helpful companion through life and we can abandon the great beauties to the screen without regret.

“So, hey, this gives me a fantastic idea! Maybe bossy feminists should stop trying to bully us into thinking we don’t see what we see and instead of banning words like bossy should actually try to ban BEING bossy and become kind, tender and generous to the men in their lives. Then they would become beautiful and wouldn’t be called bossy so it would actually solve two problems at once!” –Andrew Klavan, My Great Idea for Making Plain Girls Beautiful

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6 Responses to Sisterhood of the traveling bossy pants

  1. Good one, Bluebird of Bossiness! You are the best of both B-words. 🙂 In a good way.

  2. zmalfoy says:

    Love this compilation! The “Ban Bossy” campaign has irritated me from the beginning, for so many reasons. . .

  3. I discovered the other night that Netflix has all 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers. But then I saw the description of the series, which is about hotel proprietor Basil Fawlty “and his bossy wife.” I guess I better watch ’em fast before Netflix censors all of them.

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