This is a post that I wrote last year when the whole Ban Bossy campaign started. It was posted to the old blog site which was discontinued. It is a post that got a lot of great feed back and it is an issue I still believe is relevant for discussion, so we are re-posting it!:)
I realize that this whole campaign has become a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. As with many of these types of campaigns, either side of the issue possesses its own vehement spokespeople.
As some of you are aware, I have spoken out about this campaign since I first caught wind of it in early march. I think this whole idea hits on a very real and very damaging trend that has gained momentum lately. It has almost become a new fad for people, especially celebrities, to create and stand on their own “revolutionary” soapboxes. These soapboxes seem more and more to be not only “much ado about nothing” but often the campaigns themselves are CREATING new issues that become extremely damaging. This whole ban bossy movement is, in my opinion, such a campaign.
This is what I had to say about the ban bossy campaign when it was first launched:
“I am all for the empowering of women and girls! But let’s teach them SELF worth, lets teach them to BE beautiful people, loving, respectful and happy outside of what others think. Not loud, abrasive, entitled and demanding people always looking for a soap box of “injustice” to scream from and demanding that others either agree with and support them or go to Hades. We are not empowering our girls, we are teaching them to be hateful, bitter, entitled and way too sensitive. I understand the premise of the movement. I just can’t get on board with it. The term bossy has been around forever and it has always meant the same thing. The connotations of the word haven’t changed. Women have survived the term and its negative connotations this long. I think instead of fighting a war on semantics we need to teach our girls (and boys for that matter) to develop inner strength, give them a healthy point of reference from which to reflect themselves and encourage them in their self discovery through positive reinforcement. If along the way they are called bossy then they learn to persevere through that and let it roll off of them. That is how true leaders are developed. The leaders of today didn’t get where they are by waging a war against every word they came up against that hurt their feelings or caused discouragement. They faced adversity and became stronger through it. By coddling our children and teaching them to demand recognition and validation for their whims, beliefs and even their dreams from everyone in their lives like it is their due, all we are doing is raising a generation of entitled, over indulged people. We are taking from them the ability to overcome obstacles, the drive to accomplish dreams in the face of adversity and the maturity to deal with getting their feelings hurt or having someone disagree with them without them feeling justified to wage war against the villain who dare have a differing opinion! The fact is, people are going to say hurtful things and life isn’t fair. As a parent, it is my responsibility to recognize, validate and encourage leadership in my own children. At the same time, I want to teach my kids to be bigger than hurtful words and stronger than the unfair things they will face. I want to instill in them an internal sense of self and the ability to know who they are and what they aspire to without needing the external validation of everyone they come in contact with. In essence, when you come across an opposing force, know who you are, know what you stand for and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! When you come up against hardships or hurt feelings, put your big girls panties on and deal with it, because you WILL face hardships and hurt feelings!”
Besides the sense of entitlement and coddling that I feel this campaign inspires in the next generation of girls, there are also the alarming statistical claims that the movement is making to back up its validity. Several of these claims are made based upon studies that were conducted in the early 1990’s which puts the findings incredibly out of date to be considered realistically relevant today. In addition, many of the statistics quoted in the campaign were cherry-picked and some even stretched the context of the studies they were citing.
One study being used to back up the Ban Bossy campaign, which was conducted between 1992-1997,
“found that when students were asked if they ‘like to take the lead when a group does things together’ 72 percent of sixth-grade boys reported yes, versus 54 percent of sixth-grade girls. The study’s author, Barbara Schneider, told the Washington Examiner that the question was only asked during the first year of the study, so there’s no way to tell if girls were more or less likely to want to lead as they aged. “
(Ashe Schow, The Washington Examiner).
The 1994 “National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health” that questioned children in grades 7-12 and their parents was cited by Ban Bossy in support of their claim that parents placed a higher value on leadership in their boys than in their girls. What Ban Bossy neglects to inform people of is that first, though the study was massive, they cherry-picked the statistics that included only the results from the seventh graders and their parents and failed to mention the results pertaining to 8-12 graders. Second, the study’s director, Kathleen Mullan Harris is quoted as saying,
“In seventh grade, 24 percent of parents of males chose a leader as the most important quality in school compared to 21.5 percent of parents of girls. Among eighth graders, it switched to 24.6 percent of parents of girls to 21.5 percent of parents of boys; ninth grade also favored girls (26.4 [percent] vs. 25.5 [percent]) – more parents chose the leader quality as most important. For 10th through 12th grade there is virtually no difference or slightly in favor of boys. I would not put a lot of stock into these differences, they are slight. Perhaps the more important finding is that there is so little difference (i.e., parents value leadership in their daughters as much as they do in their sons).”
In short, the incredulity of the claims made by Ban Bossy is quite astounding. When the studies cited to back the campaign up are actually investigated, it becomes glaringly apparent how thin their evidence is, often to the extreme of being taken out of context and even fabricated!
In a wonderful article written by Ashe Schow for the Washington Examiner, the nine claims made by the Ban Bossy campaign are addressed in much more detail. At the conclusion of her article, Ms. Schow presents this question as food for thought,
“Sheryl Sandberg (founder of Ban Bossy) said she was called bossy once and it really affected her. Maybe it did, but she’s a billionaire now and the chief operating officer of Facebook, so it couldn’t have hurt too badly. How did she actually deal with it? By kicking butt and taking names – that’s how. Why isn’t she teaching girls that?”
Exactly. (My opinion, obviously) 🙂
As I said, I am aware that this is a highly debated subject. Very strong opinions are had on this topic.
I would love to know your thoughts! Do you think we should “Ban Bossy”? Comment below.