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Is Lean In’s Ban Bossy the right move for feminism?

by AirTalk®

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Chief operating officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE

The idea that the vocabulary used to describe women in leadership positions is different than that to describe men is not a new idea. Feminists and supporters have long argued that women should have a more positive set of adjectives ascribed to them to match those applied to men: assertive, strong, ambitious.

Lean In has partnered with Girl Scouts, Lifetime, and a slew of powerful celebrity spokeswomen to end what the group sees as the pervasive use of the word “bossy.” Young girls with “executive leadership potential” are often called “bossy,” while boys in the same position are innately seen as leaders.

Lean In’s Ban Bossy campaign calls for the end of the use of the word bossy, and was introduce with a new ad featuring Beyonce, who says, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”

But can limiting use of a single word really impact the mindset of young girls and women? Should the focus really be on eliminating bossy, or should young female leaders focus on the best ways to move on and grow, regardless of what words someone else might use to describe them?

Can Lean In really ban bossy? And if they can, what effect will it have? What does it mean to be a feminist activist in an age of increasing equality?


Rachel Thomas, co-founder and president of Lean In


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