I’m going to be away for a few weeks due to a death in the family. Until I get back, here’s a column I wrote last week for the Concord Monitor about Sheryl Sandberg and Anna Maria Chávez’s campaign to “Ban Bossy.”
‘Ban Bossy’ campaign misses the mark
By TRACY HAHN-BURKETT
For the Monitor
Thursday, March 27, 2014
(Published in print: Friday, March 28, 2014)
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, and Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts of America, want to “Ban Bossy.” They say the word “bossy” is most often aimed at girls and women who exhibit assertive behavior, and this accusation discourages girls from ultimately becoming leaders because they feel compelled to keep quiet in order to be liked.
I want to support Sandberg and Chavez’s campaign. I really do. I understand that language matters and that words have the power to hurt, to hold back and to oppress. I applaud the motivation behind the “Ban Bossy” campaign; how could I not support an effort to encourage more girls to recognize their own capabilities and fulfill their potential? I even get the need, in our attention- deficit era, to condense any message into a hash-taggable, Vine-usable, 10-second-spot-explainable kernel. #BanBossy. Anything more complicated, and you risk losing a significant chunk of your audience.
But crafting a catchy message isn’t enough. That message’s call to action ought to be one that can make a real and positive difference, and that’s where “Ban Bossy” falls short.