SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 22, 2014

Column: Banning ‘B-word’ teaches girls the wrong lesson

(Continued)

And, as dynamic as these leaders are, they are apparently missing the fact (and yes, plenty of statistics support this) that education at all levels over the past several decades has become more friendly to females than males. The proof is in the results: There are now more women than men getting college degrees, and there will soon be more women than men getting advanced degrees.

They are apparently also missing the rampant encouragement and celebration of young girls “speaking up.” Perhaps my Northeast newspapers and television stations are outliers, but they are loud and constant supporters of young girls speaking out and taking the lead in just about anything.

It apparently also escapes them that a group of successful, powerful women dictating to the rest of us what we can and can’t say could be considered, uh, bossy.

I’m especially worried about one of my favorite comediennes — Tina Fey, of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” fame. Does this mean that all copies of her book “Bossypants” are going to get pulled from the shelves? Or can females use it without fear of sanction?

More seriously, there are so many problems here that it is hard to know where to start.

Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of words in the language are negative or discouraging. Do these women want to ban them all or just those that they perceive are aimed primarily at young girls?

It is likely that this campaign will undermine their message — that girls should be encouraged to be strong leaders. How does it help to imply that they are so fragile that being called bossy is enough to wreck their career aspirations?

They also give the word more malignancy than it deserves. “Bossy” does not seek to dehumanize an entire race or those of a sexual identity. It is just a complaint about a person’s attitude or actions, generally aimed at those who are trying to assert authority they don’t possess.

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