Is "Bossy" A Bad Word?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Should the word 'bossy' be banned? (wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

An open phones segment in which we discuss "Ban Bossy", a campaign by Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts to ban the use of the word that they say discourages young girls from taking on leadership positions. What do you think?

Comments [42]

@gary from queens

Your ideas do not need rebuttal. They are laughably disregard-able just as they are. Since you are not a liberal, please do not presume to speak for the liberal mind and what it thinks.

Your assertion that "Conservatives do not contemplate the outlawing of words." may be factually true but conservativism, by definition, attempts to preserve the status quo - regardless of weighing whether the status quo needs changing. I haven't seen much principled conservatism in the country lately...especially in Washington. I've just seen greed.

You can point out the falsehoods and inconsistencies in a posted opinion all you like but making sweeping statements about liberal straw men of your own making is just you confirming to yourself your own bigoted views.

Mar. 14 2014 06:59 PM

Kylie in Brooklyn pretty much nailed it.. Bravo...!

Mar. 14 2014 06:04 PM

no....we don't need thicker skins,we need a more reasonable way of talking to each other. this is all so overly simplistic, and language police remedies are asinine. interesting,how we assume that saying things like "size matters",is par for the course,and that men/boys are fine with having their genitlia proportions mocked and scrutinized. men engage in this too,because no one wants to be seen as having a small penis or be a martyr for the cause,which confirms the real inner fear and anxiety around this. we don't talk about a lot of stuff that bothers us because we'll be told "get over it",so we clam up,but it doesn't mean that men don't get crapped on, too. it's often by other men,but that should not mean its okay. my biggest problem with all of this[yeah Ha HA punsters],is that a world is being fortified in which boys are seen as a privileged class,and girls are born with all the disadvantages. look at suicide rates[boys and men kill themselves more,women and girls talk about it more]. in any case,an us vs them, gender entrenched world serves no greater purpose for anyone. this is an anemic conversation at best.

Mar. 14 2014 05:25 PM

so... is no girl/woman capable of being a bossy/bitch ? are they given carte blanche to the realm of the obnoxious, under the PC pretext of "thou shalt not cause injury to a female by calling her bossy"? btw- we don't call boys/men,"bossy",but we sure call them[us]a lot of other things that we don't,or rarely, call girls/women.

Mar. 14 2014 04:56 PM
carolita from NYC

You know when I got called "bossy" the most? When I lived in Europe and worked in software and had to work with men all the time, in various countries. They really thought I was bossy in Italy and the UK, and they tried to slap me down and trip me up all the time. I'd let the men have their fun, and I'd let them try to do my job and fail at it, and then I'd say, "So, do you want me to install your network for you now?" Funnily enough, in Germany, I was congratulated for being bossy. They said it made me easier to work with:"Just tell me what to do, Carolita," my clients said, and they did it, without needing me to pretend that I was not telling them how to do something they didn't know how to do, and things got done. They weren't afraid to be told what to do by a woman, that's all. In other countries, men waste time with their pride. Here, in America, I'm afraid I get called "bossy" or "aggressive" by men, too. I don't work in software anymore, so I can't tell you if the same workplace prejudices would lead men to call me "bossy" here, too. Note, however, that I've never been called "bossy" by a woman. Well, maybe once by my mother, but then she's the one who tried to tell me that men like it when women lower their eyes when you catch them looking at you. (Of course, I asked her just how low and at what. Ha.)

Mar. 14 2014 04:25 PM
banana from nyc

condoleezza rice is the LAST person on the planet to open her mouth on banning anything.
we had eight years of bush's american fascism thank you very much, we don't need word baning from the likes of her. Never forget to what they did to the Dixie Chicks!

Mar. 14 2014 02:49 PM

Bossiness means barking out orders with a taint of condescension. I find females are more prone to this than with males.

Mar. 14 2014 01:15 PM

How about a "ban" on movements to ban words and ideas because some people don't agree with them or decide to find them offensive. Banning seems to be the province of those who can't convince others of their point of view and so opt for fiat.

Mar. 14 2014 12:55 PM
Terrmann from The East End

Bossy gets the point across. Shall we tell a kindergartner s/he's being "domineering," "intransigent," +/or "solipsistic?"

Mar. 14 2014 12:48 PM
gary from queens


your correction of my mispelled word is just about all I expected of any liberal's "intellectual" rebuttal. In point of fact, I would be very surprised to see such a discussion on a conservative blog. Conservatives do not contemplate the outlawing of words. again, it's the authoritarian impulse of liberals.

Mar. 14 2014 12:12 PM
mario romo

I am a business owner and am referred to as boss in three different languages by my employees. I have never been called "bossy" nor am I bossy because I make an effort not to be so. I think that the problem is not with the word but with the attitude in our society that confuses bossiness as being assertive and a positive trait. "Bossy" should be a word that is applied to both boys and girls as well as men and women and discouraged in both genders. More is accomplished with a respectful attitude than a bossy one.

Mar. 14 2014 12:00 PM
Greg Krywosa from Westchester

I wish I could have called in in time to state this on the air, but an important point seems to have been missed. The most effective LEADERS of the world are not bossy - male OR female. They are prepared, (quietly) confident, charismatic and firm - all at the same time. They lead by example - not by barking orders or claiming for all to hear that they "are the boss".

I'm the father of two girls, 6 and 9, and I tell them the same thing. Be a leader because you've earned the respect of those around you. Banning the word "bossy" actually takes away the distinction between a good boss & a bad one. A good boss will LEAD… not demand that people follow!!

Mar. 14 2014 11:59 AM
Lea from Queens NYC

This is ridiculous, instead of banning, and thereby enforcing the negativity of the word bossy, we should be embracing it. I was called bossy, I still get called bossy, and I decided a long time ago that a word isn't going to bring me down. Women & girls need to be taught to be powerful, and to deal with some insults here and there, its life, by banning the word bossy we are essentially telling the world that we can't handle being insulted by a single word, how are we supposed to be leaders and deal with difficult international issues if we can't handle being called bossy?

Mar. 14 2014 11:51 AM
Barbara Martz from Staten Island, NY

Banning a word seems extreme but has anyone ever heard "bossy" applied to anyone who is not female? Maybe the culture is changing as more women enter the workplace in leadership roles and it will disappear. I hope so but doubt it.

Mar. 14 2014 11:46 AM
jgl from ny

What a bunch of BS!

This is a part of the continuing attempt at intellectualizing human DNA. Women tend to naturally do what Ms. Sandberg is talking about in order to present themselves to males in a more "appealing" way. They do this as an expression of their biology and what is actually driving them which is reproduction. Trying to control the words people tend to use is an attempt at forcing social engineering in the liberal model. An insult to confident and competent woman.

The actual word that Sandberg actually intends to use (IMO) is "bitch", but she does not use it. Woman that are buying into such "think" are being done a disservice by modern feminism. Woman must recognize their DNA and what makes them women and make their own the situation that they find themselves in in the work environment. This is accomplished by being competent and garnering respect not demanding it. This word issue is just another crutch that women are being yoked with and will create resentment and is a false issue.

There is no more powerful force on the planet than organized and / or focused women. All of the intellectualization on the planet can not make a woman a man. Stop trying. Make it your own, on your own terms.

Mar. 14 2014 11:46 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, my 9-yr-old pudding is sometimes called 'bossy' when she's leading less tactfully than she needs to. Shouldn't there be a distinction between this behavior and progressive/productive leadership?

Mar. 14 2014 11:29 AM
Karen from NYC

Have you ever heard a guy called "bossy"? Maybe a little boy by his mom - but that says it all, because the implication is that a person who should be obedient and docile is trying to take control. I don't like bossy.

Mar. 14 2014 11:26 AM

@gary from queens

This idiot liberal just thinks you don't know how to spell 'Tesla'...

Mar. 14 2014 11:26 AM
John A

Feminism has been overdriven with "you can have it all" messaging for decades. Such things don't help people have realistic expectations of the world. Young people 21-35 can start out impolitic, myself included, and thus need adjustment to fit in.
Worked for two competent and nonbossy-type females, no problems.

Mar. 14 2014 11:26 AM
Jack from Manhattam

I think Sheryl Sandberg desperately needs to exhibit some bossiness over her CEO, because someone should slap some sense into that man-child Zuckerberg. I mean $19 billion for WhatsApp? Really?

Mar. 14 2014 11:25 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

hey Natalie, just because you are a woman/girl doesn't mean that your views are valid.... and this argument is ridiculous

Mar. 14 2014 11:25 AM
Alexis from NYC

This is such an odd campaign.

And Black women have already reclaimed "bossy".
Please see the Kelis song "Bossy", for instance.

I'm the first girl to scream on a track
I switched up the beat of the drum
That's right, I brought all the boys to the yard
And that's right, I'm the one that's tattooed on his arm
I'm bossy
I'm the b**** you love to hate
I'm the chick that's raised the stake
I told young stunna he should switch to Bape
I'm back with an 808 'cause I'm bossy.

Mar. 14 2014 11:24 AM
JFreely from NYC

"Bossy" is only sexist if it's only directed at girls and not boys. If boys are called bossy too, it's not sexist.

Mar. 14 2014 11:24 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

As I recall "Bossy" was what the girl bullies were called in school. Mostly by the teachers trying to discourage their behavior and because they intimidated and humiliated the girls that they didn't like or felt threatened by. So I'm confused is bullying good when girls do it? How do children "assert" themselves? Does anyone else see an "issue" searching for a constituency and relevance ... pfft what a dopey idea.

Mar. 14 2014 11:24 AM
ruthann from Bklyn

Bossy? That's NOT the everyday "B" word used to attack and denigrate woman and girls.

Ban bitch.

Mar. 14 2014 11:23 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

As I recall "Bossy" was what the girl bullies were called in school. Mostly by the teachers trying to discourage their behavior and because they intimidated and humiliated the girls that they didn't like or felt threatened by. So I'm confused is bullying good when girls do it? How do children "assert" themselves? Does anyone else see an "issue" searching for a constituency and relevance ... pfft what a dopey idea.

Mar. 14 2014 11:23 AM
Barbara A. Edelman from New Paltz, NY

My daughter was editor of her high school paper. She was repeatedly called bossy and worse for attempting to create a smooth operation. Interestingly, one of her nastier critics is now active in local politics; one hopes his view of take charge women has changed! That said, my daughter is now in her final days as a master's student and has found ways to use her leadership skills to her benefit and the benefit of organizations she is affiliated with. Regarding the "ban bossy" campaign, I don't have high hopes. The feminist backlash of the 80s is not over yet, though perhaps it's starting to wane. We shall see.

Mar. 14 2014 11:21 AM
Kimmarie from Hell's Kitchen

I believe that trying to ban words only gives them more power, but in the name of microaggressions, ( ) it is important to understand that continually being called something with a negative connotation does have a cumulative,demoralizing effect. Just because one is not aware of the FACT that boys are given the benefit of being labeled as leaders because of their problem solving behaviors, does not mean that it is not universal. When women and young girls are called bossy, if they were in fact displaying some sort of entitlement, then it would be a fair, but they are called bossy when displaying the same behaviors that in boys are almost always described in a positive light. Really when women and girls are called bossy it is a substitute for bitchy and men are called assertive.

Mar. 14 2014 11:20 AM
Mary from Fort Greene

bell hooks is right. Give me a break. We must not BAN WORDS. This is ridiculous!

Mar. 14 2014 11:19 AM
Wen from Brooklyn

Having grown up in an authoritarian environment, I believe strongly we should ban people looking to ban words or ideas... period. I don't believe many Americans actually understand what they have at stake.

Mar. 14 2014 11:19 AM
b from nyc

bossy is an equal opportunity word

this is stupid

Mar. 14 2014 11:18 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

So what words are we "banning" next in the name of someone's idea of social justice??


Mar. 14 2014 11:18 AM
Jean from midtown

Sandberg is Facebook's COO, not CEO.

Mar. 14 2014 11:17 AM
gary from queens

Liberalism establishes speech codes because it's an authoritarian ideology. it's a top-down enforcement of conformity towards uniformity. "Bossy" is just the latest. Before that, liberals outlawed "illegal aliens" and the word "liberal" among others. it's the control of people that had inspired statists like Hitler and Stalin.

By contrast, free people operating in free markets defines conservativism. Yesterday, some statist called to support THE LAW that dissallows Tessler from selling its product directly to buyers without a middleman. Rush Limbaugh and Brian Lehrer disagree. Conservatives believe government shouldn't stand in the way of a seller and a buyer.

If Tessler wants to sell its cars, then government shouldn't allow cronies of government to buy special favors to prevent that. And if I wish to sell my labor, then I should be free to negotiate my wage without being forced by cronies of government to join a union.

Government created and enforced slavery and Jim Crow laws. White people who wished to treat black people as their equals were arrested for breaking THE LAW. I favor freedom FROM government. i favor freedom of speech and freedom from top-down, government or administrative speech codes. I support free markets and competition. I oppose liberal, "government knows best, patriarchal, "it takes a village", nanny-statism and cronyism----from either political party----because government manipulation in markets, and government-sanctioned monopolies inflates prices. Ask yourself why your cable bill and medical costs are rising all the time. it's government control of markets.

Now some idiot liberal is going to say I oppose regulations. Watch.

Mar. 14 2014 11:05 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I don't believe in banning any word but combining the word "bossy" and women/girls should be discouraged, as there is no doubt that its juxtaposition was a result of society not being comfortable with women/girls being assertive, or decisive leaders.

Mar. 14 2014 11:02 AM
john from office

This will work as well as bannng the N word, good luck. PC gone wild

Mar. 14 2014 10:38 AM

I am not sure that I agree with the premise that the same behavior that would get a boy badged as 'leader' would get a girl labeled 'bossy'. It probably does happen but it is nowhere near universal.

Bossiness (for me) carries the display of some sense of unearned entitlement...The type of behavior that would make me think "...who died and made you king?" or queen, as the case may be.

Mar. 14 2014 10:26 AM

Disturbing how the practice has become an effort to ban words as a means of shaping values and behavior.

Mar. 14 2014 10:12 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"to ban the use of the word"

YIKES !!! Now we are OK with "banning words" that some think are inappropriate. This tells you all you need to know about where "progressives" are taking this society.

Mar. 14 2014 10:12 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Ban a word? Sounds like a thin-skinned plea for censorship.

Mar. 14 2014 10:07 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

If someone has a "bossy" personality, that's who they are, and no amount of name-calling will change that. And it's not bad or good - it just means that they navigate the world in their own assertive way.

Do you really believe that girls' esteem is so fragile that calling them "bossy" at them can weaken their ambition?

Mar. 14 2014 10:06 AM

What's the difference between bossy and bully?
Do females now have permission to be bullies because the word police don't like a duck being called a duck ?
What's next? Which other banned words ideas thoughts?
We need thicker skins

Mar. 14 2014 09:31 AM

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