Something happened to me when I was 12 that had a huge effect on the person I am today. It wasn’t something monumental or ground breaking, It wasn’t something horrible or abusive and anyone else involved (apart from my own mother) will ever have thought of it again or even realised that it was a something. A something that would end up shaping part of the person I am today. When I was twelve I helped out at my school’s open evening (I went to an all girls Grammar School) and helped in the science department with different experiments and then left to go to my sports training. A week or so later my mum had parents evening with my form tutor and I waited eagerly at home to see what the feedback was as I was sure I was doing pretty well in my new secondary school. Turns out I was but then my mum chuckled and said the following, “Your tutor did make me laugh though. On open evening she kept moving you to different science activities as you were being very bossy.” My mum knows but I doubt the teacher ever knew how badly those words hurt me. Well not even all of those words, just one. Bossy. I hate it. I loathe and detest it and think it is one of the most heinous words we actually have to describe women. I’d never have written about this at all if it hadn’t been for what I saw in the news this week…
It may seem pathetic that this one sentence from a teacher when I was twelve has had such an effect but it’s true. I was really hurt – in all honesty I was crushed. It didn’t matter that my report had been glowing, I’d been dealt a blow which I still think about and worry about over 20 years later. I hadn’t thought I was being bossy, I’d merely thought I was being organised and productive and making sure we got done what needed to be done and that had involved me telling some other students what they needed to do or should be doing.
I was in fact being organised and I was doing what I was told and being driven to make sure we got everything done to our best ability. Now, the words driven, organised and productive are fine. If these had been used I’d have been over the moon but they weren’t. Why? Because then and even now it feels like these are words used to describe boys/men. The word we used to describe girls or women was the word used on me – Bossy, and it made me feel so bad. I didn’t want to be seen as bossy, I thought it was an ugly word and after that I wouldn’t push myself forward and would take a step back from any roles requiring leadership until much later at University where I did actually choose to be the boss of something.
Even now at the ripe old age of 33 (totally owning it) if I can I will avoid situations where there is the opportunity for someone to call me bossy – how I ended up the leader of a tribe of bloggers I’ll never know but then leader is a much nicer word than bossy AND it’s very rare I do anything leader like other than organise stuff.
So why? Why am I sat here wittering on about a stupid flippant remark made by a teacher a couple of decades ago? Well, because this week I saw a newspaper article that enraged me. Apparently, the Queen happened to mention to someone that Princess Charlotte likes looking after her brother Prince George and what did the media do? They printed and ran huge articles calling her bossy. This is not right. How does a sentimental remark from a Grandmother about her granddaughter looking after her brother turn her into a “bossy girl.” It’s not fair. The poor child already has to grow up with the media watching every millimeter of hair growth, height growth and monumental occasion that happens without them trying to give her issues too. Wait until her teenage years and she gets curvy… what will they do then, fat shame?!
I totally respect the fact she is too young to read the papers and see what is being written but when she’s older she’ll be able to look back and what if she feels the same way that I do about the word? What if it makes her feel ashamed and bad about herself? It’s a heinous word that as I have said I truly loathe and is never, ever used to describe men so why should women be labelled as bossy?! It’s archaic, outdated and needs to stop.
I’d like to tell Princess Charlotte and any other little girls growing up out there not to worry, you’re NOT bossy. I’ll tell you what you are – smart, intelligent, driven, organised, a born leader and a million other things as well but one thing you are not is bossy. To my own darling Alyssa – you’re strong willed, independent, know your own mind, outspoken and perfect just as you are but one thing you are not is bossy. So tabloids, teachers, social media, whomever you are just stop and think before you use that word to describe someone again. She’s so bossy – SHUT UP!