Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Laura Perrins: Why is being a bossy girl now a crime?


A plane has fallen out of the sky and Russian boots might march upon the Ukraine, but truly, I tell you, there is something even more menacing out there.

Somewhere, a little girl is being called bossy. Yes, it’s true. What a crime, what an appalling vista stands before us. The word bossy being used to subjugate girls. The great and the good are out to ban it. This campaign can just not come soon enough.

I am bossy and so is my daughter. She bosses her little brother around all the time and I tell her off for it. I have been called bossy all my life – because guess what, I am! I bossed my friends, I bossed my older brother, I boss my husband  – when I am not being considerate to other people’s feelings, it is what I do.

Beyonce is one of those lovely ladies who is heading this campaign. She is married to a man called Jay-Z. I googled some of his lyrics (as I a would rather throw myself off a cliff than listen to his songs) and a cursory search tells me he likes to refer to women as “bitches and hoes”. Now Beyonce, when you live in a great big huge glasshouse with a Jacuzzi and God knows what else, with your husband (have they banned that word yet?), you really should not throw diamond encrusted rocks through the window.

We are told ‘bossy’ is the kind of word that dims those very skills which a girl needs to succeed. Evidence of this comes from Sheryl Sandberg herself. She was called bossy once when she used to wear her hair in pigtails, and it had such a terrible impact on her that she became CEO of Facebook. That is her quivering over there in the corner.

People call others out for being bossy – and rightly so. Being called bossy does not dim the skills which girls need to succeed (which means succeed in the world of work because, remember, according to the feminists that is all that counts!)

To succeed at work, you need to be a team player, you need to have good people skills, you need to listen and absorb information and you probably need to be collaborative. These qualities are the opposite of being bossy. Bossy is when you are not taking the feelings of others into account while telling them what to do. That is why people do not like it when others are being bossy. They are really ignoring them. In my experience, this will not get you very far in life.

As a bossy person, I know there is a fine line between being bossy and being assertive. Teach assertiveness if you want – that is resisting doing what others ask you to do, particularly if you want to please them. So if someone asks Annabelle to do something she does not want to do I tell her to say no. And that no is a full sentence that does not need an explanation.

If her two-year-old brother hits her or attempts to hit her, I tell her to put out her hand firmly and tell him no. If she wants something, I tell her not to use her winy voice but her normal (or depending on my mood) assertive voice. But if she is bossing around her friend or brother I tell her to stop being bossy.

And I will continue to do so, and Beyonce and the rest of them can go and jump right back in that jacuzzi.

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