When I was growing up with my three brothers, I never felt like I was an outsider because I was the only girl. I played the games that they played, I watched the movies that they watched, and there was never any sort of difference in the way that I was treated as opposed to them.
Except for one thing.
Whenever my brothers and I had disagreements (and by disagreements, I mean shouting matches about Nerf guns or whose turn it was to help set the table), my brothers had the ultimate trump card to win the argument: “Bossy”.
They would immediately win the argument, no matter the argument, if they called me bossy.
Now, as a much older and wiser woman of academia studying communication studies at the collegiate level, I have realized that there are certain terms that are gendered by society, and “bossy” is one of them.
Obviously, as I am, as I mentioned before, older and wiser, I don’t dwell on my childhood “bossiness”. In fact, I hadn’t thought about it at all until recently, when someone that I work with used the same word to describe me when I offered some friendly advice.
I started having flashbacks, it was traumatic for everyone involved, and I’m pretty sure he’s sorry that he used that particular word.
But after some serious reflection about the meaning of this term that has pretty much been used by guys to describe me since birth, I’ve decided that I’ve cracked the code.
Men call women bossy when women know what they want, and aren’t afraid to step up in order to get it (or tell people what to do in order to get there).
I feel that human beings, as a collective, need to be led. They need people who are going to be willing to be in charge of them. Our society, while feigning painful progressiveness, is not quite ready to see women who have large amounts of power. So, in order to make themselves feel better about these women stepping up into leadership roles, the term “bossy” is used to undermine female authority.
If given the choice, I’d rather be called “inclined to leadership” as opposed to “bossy”.
Either way, we “bossy” women shouldn’t feel insulted or offended when men use the word to describe us.
After all, a man who is insecure enough to call a woman “bossy” isn’t really a man at all, since I personally think that “bossy” is just another word for “strong”. So thank the next guy who calls you that, because it means you’re doing something right.