If you keep up with social justice issues, you’ve no doubt heard of the “Ban Bossy” campaign (banbossy.com) spearheaded by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and other prominent females.
The campaign seeks to strip “bossy” from our vocabulary, since its deeply ingrained use as a pejorative discourages girls from answering in class, running for school office, leading group projects or growing up to seek challenging positions in government or industry.
I applaud the effort to end the stereotypes and level the playing field. Not only does the current double standard cheat girls/women, but mankind is being forced to tackle issues such as immigration, poverty, pollution and illiteracy with one hand tied behind its back.
On the other hand, encouraging more of a female perspective is not necessarily a cure-all or an opening to a golden age. Lots of unintended consequences may emerge, and this could be as ashen a victory as the old Virginia Slims “You’ve got your own cigarette now, baby” campaign (which SHOULD have been paired with the old Enjoli spot, to produce “I can bring home the bacon/Cough my lung up in a pan...”)
There could be a teacher shortage, as all the backwards educators who advised “everyone knows” that boys don’t like bossy girls or “everyone knows” that girls don’t do well in math or science are informed that they’re not being PAID to dispense information that “everyone knows.”
What will become of all the marginally useful boys and men who get bumped out of leadership roles by women? Will someone launch a movement to boost their self-esteem, or will they form a permanent underclass trying to drown their sorrows at the local watering hole? (“Women! You can’t achieve nuclear fission with ‘em, you can’t achieve nuclear fission without ‘em!”)
Will the “self-starter” girls who would’ve been leaders anyway have to step up their game to fend off competitors? (“So you weren’t squeamish about dissecting the frog? Big deal! Let’s step it up to dissecting a blue whale, sister!”)
One hopes that the women who prefer to remain “just” housewives or cosmetologists or hostesses will be allowed to do so. But I fear there may be a relentless Gestapo-like effort to prod them to do more. (“Ve haff vays of making you use calculus.”)
Will achieving a 50-50 split of males and females in Congress really bring respect to a despised institution, or will women be absorbed into the Washington mentality? Will the 1980s Pantene “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” plea be replaced with “Don’t hate me because I gave preferential treatment to deep-pocketed special interests”?
Therapists may have to work overtime as more women try to straddle the fence of their nurturing side and the demands of international conglomerates. (“Free family planning for the villagers displaced by our munitions! They can PLAN to move their FAMILIES to a less war-torn country next time.”)
If “Ban Bossy” is successful, prepare for a flood of aggrieved groups trying to ban offensive words from the dictionary. At some point Merriam-Webster may have to start advertising for “strong, independent women who can sell a dictionary that is about the size of a Bazooka Joe cartoon.”
The whole world needs assertive women. Let’s hope that both “bossy” and the sentiment behind it stay dead. Don’t let this be the generation that gives the word the sneaky substitute term “Putin-licious”!
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.