Dear Miss Bossy Pants, You might not remember me, but I was one of the girls you bossed around when we were kids. I was the short one, kinda quiet, a little shy. I was one of the girls you mowed down in the lunch line, barreled over in gym class and dictated what games we had to play at recess.
I even had a jacket with your footprints running across my back. I was the one you interrupted, talked over and looked straight through. You were the one who designated yourself as in-charge. Even the teacher was afraid of you.
You were Lucy from the Peanuts gang and Margaret from Dennis the Menace. Bossy, bossy, bossy. Yak, yak, yak.
We’re not supposed to call girls like you bossy anymore because we could hurt your self-esteem. (Like that was ever in short supply.)
You must be pretty jazzed to have someone like Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook launching a Ban Bossy campaign on your behalf. Sandberg says calling girls bossy can keep them from their dreams of executive leadership. My dream was to get the ball back from you so I could play four square.
Sandberg was called bossy and look how it damaged her. She’s worth more than $1 billion.
Sandberg has a lot of rich and famous women on board, including Condoleezza Rice, Beyonce, the head of the Girl Scouts and Yahoo. It’s a pretty downtrodden group all right. If their dreams of leadership were squashed, they sure recovered well.
Anyway, about banning this word bossy. I’m against it. I’m anti-censorship in general. I’m a freedom-and-liberty kind of gal. I’m not going to be hitting the like button on this one.
The thing is this, if someone calls you bossy, why not think about it? Maybe you are. And if you are, maybe you need to change. Maybe you’re not the only one with some ideas. Maybe you can be overbearing, obnoxious even.
And if you’re not bossy, let it roll. Don’t make a federal case — let alone a website, buttons and a social media campaign.
Sure, it’s not always kind to call someone bossy. But consider the options: domineering, controlling, aggressive, overbearing, self-absorbed or simply “the girl who hogs the tempera paints.”
Banning bossy won’t empower little girls, it will only victimize them. One more thing they are to be offended by.
And the argument that little girls are being held back has more holes in it than my kitchen colander. (I have a house now. Does that surprise you?) The average ratio of female to males entering college is 56 to 44. Females graduate college at a far higher rate and the latest Fortune 500 listed more female CEOS than ever before.
I will say I enjoy the irony of the Ban Bossy campaign — wealthy, powerful, successful women telling the rest of us what we can’t say.
I should have said it years ago, but I didn’t, so I’ll say it now: You’re not the boss of me.
The short kid with curly brown hair
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.