Sheryl Sandberg and Anna Maria Chávez on ‘Bossy,’ the other B-word
It’s time to end the gendered speech that discourages girls from an early age. So the next time you hear a girl called “bossy,” do what CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell advised: Smile, take a deep breath and say, “That girl’s not bossy. She has executive leadership skills.”
This is a very Sandberg-ian example of taking a valid point (women, especially young women, are held to unrealistic standards of behavior that often discourage or even inhibit professional development), bolting it on to a bunch of other assumptions (strong, “bossy” leadership is a good thing), and treating it like it’s obviously one organic piece.
Leadership is a very screwed up thing right now, as we adapt to a world with more information, more transparency, and less hero worship. I actually think women, of all people, may be better equipped to build a new form of it that works better than “listen to me, I drive an Audi”. I’ve had several female bosses in my life (as I count, almost exactly the same number as male ones, actually), and one of the things that made them better was a lack of douchey, alpha-male quarterbacking that often comes with your prototypically insecure dude-bro of a manager. Sometimes, we hold women up to unrealistic standards, and sometimes, we hold them up to standards that maybe we should all try a little harder to hold everyone up to.
(And before you ask, no, not unhealthy body image. I think we can let that one go for everybody.)
So yeah, I agree, don’t call little girls bossy and then treat your son like he’s George S. Patton and a SHAPER OF MEN. But… maybe don’t let your sons get away with being such insufferable little tyrants, either?