By Madison Springer
“I like bossy girls. I always have. I like people filled with life.” – Amy Poehler
I was a bossy kid. I know that because many people told me. I bossed around my friends and my sister a lot. I wrote plays and poems and I knew what I wanted them to sound like and I was unafraid of telling my actors what they needed to do to truly bring my piece to life! I remember hearing that word “bossy” as a kid, attributed to me, and thinking it sounded awful. I didn’t want to be labeled as “bossy.” Bossy meant mean, self-centered, stubborn. It didn’t seem like a quality that a girl should have and certainly didn’t seem like a quality a nice girl should have. Somewhere in there I went from being a bossy 10-year-old to a really shy middle-schooler and I don’t think I ever fully recovered from worrying about being too bossy or too opinionated or just too something.
So what are we doing when we call our little girls bossy? Is it a passive verbal warning to get a child to stop taking over all the activities we planned, or do we just think that kids, unlike adults, should somehow cooperate together on an equal field, with no budding leaders or strong suggestions, especially not from cute little girls? I wonder if my teachers had used words like capable, decisive, vocal, excited, or passionate, would those words have left me inspired instead of discouraged? Would I be more comfortable expressing my opinions if I had been told less often to be quiet?
This might not be on par with current opinions on gender equality, but I think that girls and boys see the world slightly differently. Maybe that’s brain chemistry, maybe it’s socialization, probably some of both. But either way, I believe it’s a gift. We have a lot to learn from these differences, but we are under-utilizing one side. We need more girl leaders in the world (see previous blog posts) and I think that starts with the way we treat children. It starts with the words we use to describe them. I want young girls to be capable, decisive, vocal, excited and passionate about what they believe in. I want them to be able to describe and enact their visions with the help of other kids. So let’s stop calling them bossy. I think the word we’re looking for is awesome.[divider] [/divider]
Madison is an almost-done graduate student studying speech-language pathology. When she isn’t helping people find their voices, she’s probably watching old ER episodes or re-reading Harry Potter. What she lacks in cooking abilities, she makes up for in killer Bop-It skills. She cares a little too much about grammar and is definitely going to start exercising…tomorrow. Although she’s currently living in Austin, TX, she hails from the Dallas suburbs and harbors a secret wish to drop everything and move to New Orleans. Madison likes to write about girl power, science, medicine, faith, and her current efforts to pass as a grown-up.[divider] [/divider]
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