Disney’s Babble is big on teaching girls to be bossy. In March of last year they jumped on the “ban bossy” bandwagon with Let’s all join Beyonce and Jennifer Garner in banning the word bossy:
The two superstars are asking us to stop using the word “bossy” when referring to girls and women. And as for me, a bossy lady who is a mother of a bossy girl, I can not agree with this movement more.
Since then they have run multiple posts in praise of bossy girls, including The case for raising bossy daughters and Advice to My 4-Year-Old Daughter: If Anyone Ever Calls You “Bossy,” Just Say “Thank You”. Last week however, one of the moms at Babble wrote about her struggle to curb her daughter’s bossiness while banning the very concept in My Daughter’s “Bossy” Behavior Almost Cost Her a Best Friend.
“Well, she said that if she tells June she doesn’t want to play a particular game, June gets really upset and threatens to end the play date. So Emma keeps playing to keep June happy.”
Ouch. Do the mind games begin this early?
I like that my daughter is comfortable expressing what I’ll call “strong leadership qualities,” which in a pre-Lean In era, would have been called “bossy.”
Of course, the story has a happy ending where her four year old learns to avoid being bossy while simultaneously avoids thinking very word bossy.
…I didn’t want to tell June to curb her authority, which would only reinforce those old gender stereotypes. Rather, I used it as an opportunity to talk about friendship: what it means to be a great friend and how to cultivate friendships that endure. Part of that, I said, is letting others take the lead once in a while simply because it makes friends feel good. Equally important is not making friends feel bad if they don’t want to do something you would like to do. It lets people know their decisions and opinions are valued and important.
In feminist fantasy land, one can embrace ugliness and still expect a beautiful outcome. In reality she is teaching her daughter that vice is virtue, and her daughter is only just getting started putting that philosophy into practice.