You might have heard about a new campaign called Ban Bossy. It’s gained momentum in the past few days and has the support of celebrities like Beyonce, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Garner.
It has also gained non-celebrity supporters like that of First Lady Michelle Obama, the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.
So what is Ban Bossy campaign anyway?
It was launched by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit called Lean In and Girl Scouts USA. The campaign is to change social attitudes about traits that are considered to be “masculine” and those considered “feminine”. You know, like the word bossy which is often used to describe women with leadership traits while men with the same traits are labeled as a boss. Calling a woman bossy discourages her to speak up, to voice her opinion, and to be confident in her ability to lead. Remember the Pantene shampoo ad last year?
The bossy impact is most troublesome for girls because it discourages girls to show their leadership qualities and disinterests them to become leaders.
As the CEO of Girls Scouts tweets:
Because when girls at a young age are socialized to believe that their ‘leadership’ traits are ‘bad’ they lose confidence in themselves.
The discussion on Twitter has taken-off. Many people are pledging to #banbossy.
But the discussion isn’t all positive. Many people find the campaign to be a celebrity PR stunt, a form of slacktivism that hardly changes the reality while many just dismiss the idea all together. Can “banning” the use of a word really make a difference or is it better to raise awareness about negative uses of a word and to reclaim it?
Ann Handley asks the important question, “does banning a word change the data”?
A writer and mother makes a good point,
Telegraph’s article written by @radhikasanghani encourages Beyonce to:
While some have gone as far as pushing a new hashtag, #BeBossy
Then there are those that just don’t get it!
Discussions on both ends are interesting. Let’s see how far this campaign can go in really changing public attitudes towards the use of language and labelling women and girls in negative ways.