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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…

a girl facing away from the camera sat on a swing over the top of a city skyline

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.a table full of glass experiment bottles with yellow liquid in

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.a woman sat at a table with some white paper on it and a pencil case and pencils spread out and she is writing or colouring

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!

16 Comments

  1. Ellen says:

    Teachers just don’t realise how their words can affect us. Something similar happened to me when I was in P5 which has shaped how I think of myself today. It has taken a long time to figure out that the issue was with the teacher and not me!

    #ablogginggoodtime

  2. I was always called bossy when I was a child, probably why I ended up being a teacher

  3. I hadn’t thought about bossy being used to describe females more than males before. Really thought provoking. Ugh, such a shame when flippant remarks are made and not thought through. I can see that calling someone bossy is a bit lazy… it is a bit of a catch all for recognising the positives that you identify but also suggesting that the way to communicate those could be tweaked BUT that doesn’t address the gendered argument you bring up. Hmm…interesting one!

  4. Great article. I have always been called bossy but in an endearing way and because I like to bark orders at people (my mum and Jon) while sitting down on the sofa ?(maybe lazy would be more appropriate!) But I also can see what you mean and in an era where women are treated differently it is hard that a man is called assertive and a woman direct or forceful. A man is described as strong willed and a woman pushy and demanding. This is what really makes me cross as like you found it impacts self belief and self perception in a negative manner. Just for the record you are not bossy.

  5. Bossy or leadership! Would they say the same thing if it was a boy? #ablogginggoodtime

  6. I’ve been very thankful to have been given the gift of bossy. As a mum to a lively herd of male children, I would not have survived without it.

  7. Danielle says:

    The word ‘bossy’ gives the impression of being overbearing and unapologetic and so I totally get where you’re coming from. It seems that people just reach for this word time and time again instead of giving some time and thought to the words they should actually be using, i.e organised, efficient, leading etc! So frustrating!

  8. I was equally as angry about the news article, and I too was described as “bossy” as a child in the way of “ah look look at her being all in charge, isn’t it cute”. Boys don’t get this. Men don’t get it. They are considered to be in charge, assertive, dependable, valiant, calm, measured. Bossy is a word than need to be banned. #ABlogginggoodTime

  9. I wrote a post about how I hate the word ‘bossy’ too – it’s almost exclusively applied to women and girls who show leadership traits. We can kick ass like a boss, but we’re never bossy. #ablogginggoodtime

  10. Tubbs says:

    As I point out regularly, we’re not bossy, we have leadership skills!!!!! That sounds so much better

  11. Great post. I know too well being called bossy when all the while I was just trying to be efficient. I’m lucky to have family and friends who support me and not let that kind of thing put me down. #ablogginggoodtime

  12. Kate says:

    Interesting how people feel free to hand out these labels about children and people generally and how it varies between males and females. Let’s celebrate our girls because like their mums and female contact before them they can and will change the world for the better #ablogginggoodtime

  13. I never thought if bossy as being gender related as I am bossy and so is my mother. Then again so is my brother and my son. It could run in my family ? Great positive words. Thanks for hosting #ablogginggoodtime

  14. Helena says:

    It’s sad how one word can hold such negativity. May positivity rule the world instead of negativity. #ablogginggoodtime

  15. Lucy At Home says:

    Teachers are important people in our lives and they impact us in our most formative years. I had a teacher who wrote in my school report “She’s a lovely girl but she has absolutely no common sense”. It wasn’t meant in a mean way but it’s a label that stuck with me for a long time – I owned that label and believed it. Now I am one of the most practical, common sense people around (I guess that comes with the mum territory!). Labels are dangerous things…

    And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

  16. Oh, this pain is age-old and scribed in our DNA. When Clint Eastwood directs a movie, he’s a genius, when Barbara Streisand does, she’s bossy. ARGH~! Will this ever end? Great post. And yes, one word can stay with us a lifetime. #strongwomen #mightygirls #ablogginggoodtime xo

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