Why Can’t Women Just Be the Boss and Other Reflections on the Word Bossy

People I’m worried. I’m not feeling this new year. And by not feeling I mean it’s making me angry. Loyal readers might be shaking their heads and saying, “Umm didn’t you just have a sizable rant-a-thon last week?”

To that question I answer a resounding yes. But it appears that perhaps 2020 is the year of the rant. To be honest this makes me a little bit excited because I feel likes it plays to my strong suit – aggressive pontificating. My family calls it complaining but that just shows their lack of appreciation for my oratorical gifts. All they hear is blah, blah, blah. Their loss, I assure you.

This latest rant was born at Target on a Sunday afternoon. There I was blissfully walking the aisles taking in the clearance wares when I spied a hot pinkish water bottle geared towards girls decorated with the phrase, “I’m not bossy I am the boss.”

Really? What is it with the female gender being tied to the word bossy? I must confess I was already sensitive because upon entering Target I saw a woman in a T-shirt declaring herself a “Boss Babe.” Just yuck on that and now let me break it down why all this bossy stuff ticks me off.

It’s because I believe the word bossy is almost always applied to females and it’s used as a pejorative. Almost, a substitute, if you will, for the other B word. Never, as in almost never ever, do I hear a male being called bossy.

Even boys get a bossy pass. We call them “determined” or “single minded.” But girls well, they’re bossy. I admit to being guilty of this as well. I can’t remember calling my son “bossy,” but I told my daughter she was a “bossy boots” a lot.

It wasn’t until she was about six years old when she asked me why I just called her “bossy boots” and not her brother? She felt like “bossy boots” was a bit of a slight and you know what? She was right.

It took a parent/teacher conference for me to have a larger awakening. It happened when a teacher told me my daughter was bossy. This same teacher had just described my son (who is as bossy as his sister, perhaps even more so) as “commanding.” This made me literally laugh out loud.

I asked her if she thought both of my children were equally bossy. She quickly replied, “yes” while laughing with me. I then then asked why did she call my daughter bossy and yet my son got commanding? One word sounds like a compliment the other not so much.

The teacher admitted she didn’t know why and then said apologetically that she always thought of assertive girls as bossy.

I couldn’t get mad at the teacher because I had done the same thing. But, from that day on I eliminated the word bossy from my vocabulary.

Then, just a couple of a years later “Girl Boss” and “Lady Boss” became a part of the lexicon. This infuriated me. Why can’t you just be the boss – no gender attached? We don’t typically call men “Dude Boss “or “Guy Boss.”

And for the love of equality why is there the phrase “Boss Babe?” Plus, if you’re wearing an article of clothing that proclaims you as a “Boss Babe” perhaps you should reconsider your choice of attire until men wearing “Boss Beefcake” shirts become part of the fashion landscape.

As we dive into 2020, I think the using the word bossy to describe confident females needs to get drop kicked right out of this new decade. The word has reached its expiration date.

Postscript – Today when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw a national all female organization refer to a member who just got a substantial city building contract as a “Builder Babe.”  Sigh.