• Mon, Mar 10 - 10:35 am ET

Beyonce Wants Us To Ban The Word ‘Bossy’ Because It Stops Girls From Being Badasses

Beyonce in ban bossy PSA March 2014I know it’s not even noon on a Monday morning yet, but it’s already time to stand up and give Beyonce a standing ovation.

Yeah that’s right — all you’ve done this morning is slog in to work and squint at your computer screen while you wait for your coffee to cool down enough to get poured straight down your gullet. I know it. Don’t try to deny in. But while you’re struggling with those simple tasks, know that Beyonce has already put her power behind a feminist movement designed to encourage young girls to be total badasses. Just to put things in perspective.

She has teamed up with The Girl Scouts Of The USA, LeanIn.org, and Lifetime television to create a PSA with other high-profile women like Jennifer GarnerJane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice, and Diane von Furstenburg to ban the word ‘bossy’. Why? Because along with words like ‘pushy’ and ‘stubborn’, it tends to be applied to young girls who are driven or opinionated, whereas boys who exhibit the same traits are referred to as ‘leaders’. It’s the kind of labeling that results in girls being less interested in leadership roles than boys by the time we reach middle school, which has far-reaching implications for the rest of our lives.

Just think! If no one had criticized me for being stubborn and bossy when I was younger (which 100% happened), I could be Solange Knowles right now. I’m pretty sure that’s how feminism works, right? — if you do it correctly, you get to be family members with Beyonce.

If you want to contribute, sign the petition to ban the word ‘bossy’ at banbossy.com, and take Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s advice too, while you’re at it:

“We need to recognize the many ways we systematically discourage leadership in girls from a young age – and instead, we need to encourage them. So the next time you have the urge to call your little girl bossy? Take a deep breath and praise her leadership skills instead.”

I’m so behind this idea that I’m not even gonna wait to have kids myself to start using it. I’m just gonna walk up to rando kids on the street and empower them.

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  • Becki

    There’s a big difference between being bossy and being a leader. I tell students (male and female) to stop bossing all the time, most of the time because the bossy kids are too busy bossing to pay attention to the directions, so they’re telling classmates to do things wrong. Even if they’re telling others to do things correctly, it’s not in an appropriate way, but a mean way. I always ask the bossy student to rephrase their concern in a helpful way, instead of a bossy way. If a student tells a bossy student to stop bossing them, the bossy student cries every time. As much as it upsets them, I would rather have them cry in first grade than not have empathy for others or be physically hurt after bossing the wrong person too many times. If you have to boss someone into doing something, you’re not being a good leader, you’re being loud. We should be encouraging all children (male and female) to be confident, self-aware, and, most importantly, kind-hearted.

    • Kaitlin Reilly

      I don’t think it’s bad to tell students to stop bossing people around. There is a major difference between a student being an effective leader and one who really likes being in control. Just like there’s a difference between a boss who leads and one who pushes people around.

      You may not be one of these teachers (which is awesome, btw!), but I know that from my own schooling that teachers and parents are far quicker to label a girl “bossy” than a boy. A girl who takes control is an automatic red flag for a lot of teachers and parents, whereas when a boy does it, it’s more normalized and basically ignored. Not all teachers or parents are like this but it’s sad to see it when I do.

      Team Beyonce on this one!

    • Becki

      I do have more girls that I would call bossy than boys, but I’m for sure going to look closer at whether that’s true, or I’m projecting those feelings onto them.
      I’ll come back with my scientific findings. haha

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      That would be awesome, I hope you do!

    • Becki

      Ok, here are the findings from my totally pathetic experiment. I have around 350 students in grades 5K-5. Of those 350 students, I have 27 who I think could fall under the category of “bossy.”

      Fourteen of those 27 are not mean about being “bossy,” so I don’t correct their behavior, because it’s not hurtful to anyone. Of those 14, 5 are boys, 9 are girls.
      Nine of the 27 “bossy” students can be mean about it sometimes, 5 being boys and 4 being girls.
      Four of the 27 “bossy” students are pretty much always mean about it, and all 4 are girls.
      I guess taking this information requires y’all to believe that I treat male and female students the same, which I pride myself on doing, but y’all can’t be sure of that.
      My theory is that because girls in elementary school are often more knowledgeable (not smarter, necessarily, but listen better to directions and information most often), they have more of an ability to help others, but because kids in elementary school aren’t very good at empathy yet, they often “help” others in a bossy or mean way.
      Experiment over. haha

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      This is so interesting! Thank you so much for sharing, Becki!
      I love your theory in particular, the part that you end with — I think that’s a really intelligent, reasonable, compassionate explanation for this phenomenon.

      Thank you again!

    • Kaitlin Reilly

      (P.S., I agree that teaching kindness in schools is so important… just watch Bully.)

  • cherylblair

    What hurts women, students is rappers and entertainment artists calling people n-word, bitches, whores while selling sex to children. If you want to teach children respect and to be kinder people stop promoting hate and telling them it is love. Beyonce is living with the poster boy for self hate Jay z and his cohorts. So if they want to ban hateful words this is the best place to start.

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