I’ve been called bossy before. When I was younger, I think there were more comparisons to Lucy from “Peanuts” than to any fairy tale princesses or damsels in distress. Bossy, assertive, stood up for myself – those are not traits a girl is supposed to possess.
If I had been a boy, someone would have declared me to be the future president of the United States.
But no, I was a girl – and a girl should not exhibit any sign of bossiness.
“She’s a BLT,” I heard someone comment once. Think it was a friend of my grandfathers who had overheard my sassy demands.
This BLT had nothing to do with bacon.
Instead, it stood for “Bossy Little Thing.”
My grandfather thought that was funny; he knew I was bossy and a pint sized task masker. I had asked him once for a raise and he had refused, saying my only responsibility was writing up his invoices by hand – a job he had taught me to do since I was five.
I went on strike, complete with picket line and made him enter his own home by the back door.
“Bossy” did not sound as positive when it was used to describe a little girl wearing black patent leather Mary Janes and white socks to her knees. It was meant to be a negative term and one that would make me shirk away from the actions that made me seem bossy. It didn’t really stop me.
When I got older, that bossy was replaced with another “b” word. Still didn’t stop me – I just figured I was irritating the right folks.
Cole befriended a little girl when he was in day care. They became the best of friends.
“What do you like about her?” I asked my then 3-year-old son.
“She reminds me of you,” he had said.
Oh, how sweet, I thought.
“How does she remind you of me?”
“She’s bossy,” he answered simply.
He meant no mal intent by his statement. He was stating a fact: She was a BLT, too.
After I got to know the little girl, I realized how wonderful it was that here was this tiny person, two feet tall so aware of the innate power she held and wasn’t afraid to use it.
No one had yet had the foolishness to tell her to not be bossy, that “girls did not act that way.”
No one had told her that, so she wielded her bossy with a fierceness. I was thoroughly impressed.
“She’s going to be the first female president,” I told her mother one day.
“You think so?” she asked, a smile beaming from ear to ear.
“Heck yeah,” I replied earnestly. “I’d vote for her now!”
That little girl remains confident, self-assured and assertive – not ‘bossy.’
I teased a friend of mine one day, calling her my “BLT.”
I told Cole that was her new nickname. He thought on this for a second, nodding slowly as he stewed this over in his brain. He had never heard me say this before unless it was in reference to a sandwich, which was made with turkey bacon of course.
Of course, his first concern was if this involved bacon. I assured him it did not as I explained the meaning behind the acronym.
“She’s spunky and has chutzpah – it suits her! I like it!”
It does suit her. She is spunky, she’s assertive, can run circles around anyone and I think she is fabulous – so why in the world would anybody think calling a female ‘bossy’ is such a bad way to describe us?
If a woman shows strength and intelligence, she’s…well, she’s a lot of bad, horrible words. Words I have been called before by both sexes. It hurt worse when it came from my own gender than it did when it came from a man. Why?
Because even when we are strong, intelligent, assertive and all those power words, we are still supposed to be the nurturing ones and should understand that about our fellow females.
“Who’s the better leader, Mama?” Cole asked me recently. “Boys or girls? There’s a debate going on at school and I wasn’t sure who would win.”
I sighed. It had nothing to do with gender. This argument had been going on for decades. Who’s smarter, who’s stronger, who’s this and who’s that.
“Cole, it completely depends on the individual,” was my answer. “Has nothing to do with boy or girl. You know that.”
He nodded, deep in thought.
“I don’t know why they are worried about it – some folks say it should be a guy leader, but I think hey, let’s give a girl a chance, you know? I mean, what if, one day, that stuff didn’t matter,” he said, thinking aloud. “You know, Mama? What if one day, no one said ‘she’s a girl, so she shouldn’t try out for that?’ because really, it shouldn’t matter. Don’t you agree?”
And one day, maybe that little thing like gender won’t matter and being a bossy little thing will be a point of pride.