I Was a BOSSY Little Girl…and I’m OKAY With That.

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2016 Update: I am a feminist. One day, I hope to write more about this, the process of learning new information, understanding who I am and what it means to be a feminist, and that we all grow and change and that’s okay, but today is not that day. So for now, I’ll settle for a quick update that is easily digestible to say that I was wrong before you read something I wrote several years ago. 

Shit’s about to get real here, people. I have a confession.

I’m about to admit something that makes me feel shameful. And weird. And like I really am not allowed to say this on the internet.

I’m afraid I’m about to get some hate mail up in here. And that terrifies me. A lot.

But I’m going to do it.

I’m going to admit…

That I am not a feminist.

The reason I feel so ashamed to admit this is that I feel like I SHOULD be a feminist.

I’m a lady. I’m a hard-working, strong, competitive lady. I have a job. I have a life. I have confidence. I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am. I know what I want and I say what I feel.

Except when it comes to admitting that I. Am. Not. A. Feminist.

Because I’m afraid of what the world will think.

It’s hard not to identify as a feminist. Because everyone’s a feminist these days. Except me. Sure, I care about women and equality. But I don’t think that’s what feminism stands for right now. What I see is feminism attempting to squash men and be their superior, not their equal. And I can’t get behind that. So no, I am not a feminist. I’m a humanist. I believe in the rights of every single person on this planet. And the ability for every single person to have opportunities. Because THAT is what we should be about.

Last year, at BlogHer, I couldn’t sit through Cheryl Sandberg’s chat. I just. Couldn’t. Because she didn’t make me feel empowered. She made me feel like I should stomp on the hearts of men until they hear me roar. I walked out.

And I felt judged for walking out. And for not joining the “Lean In” buzz or the “Bossy” buzz. That’s how feminism makes me feel: Judged.

I thought that after a few weeks, the buzz would die down. I thought after a few weeks, I wouldn’t have to hear about how little girls should NEVER be called bossy.

I was wrong.

Months later, here I am…boldly stating that I was bossy. Because there is a campaign to #banbossy. You can’t BAN a word in the English language. You can’t STOP people from using it. And you certainly can’t REPLACE it with a word that is NOT its equal. Especially when being bossy is something that is real. And yes, it’s got a negative connotation…but it probably should. Because above all else, being bossy is not an attractive quality in a man, woman, or child.

I was bossy. I sometimes still AM bossy. And that does NOT mean I have executive leadership skills. That means I have a flaw that I need to focus on bettering.

Of course, because I am bossy, does not mean that I lack executive leadership skills. I have them despite my occasional bossytude. My executive leadership skills come from my ability to LISTEN to others. To take ADVICE. And to work WITH others in a TEAM setting and not DEMAND that they do as I say.

My executive leadership skills landed me as president of the Lombard Jaycees in 2010. I wasn't a beloved president by all, but I tried my hardest to be the best leader that I could. And I had to really work past my bossytude. (This was my last event as president...and I really wanted to post my pretty dress again.)
My executive leadership skills landed me a gig as president of the Lombard Jaycees in 2010. I wasn’t a beloved president by everyone, but I tried my hardest to be the best leader that I could. And I had to really work past my bossytude. (This was my last event as president with my board of directors…and also, I really wanted to post my pretty dress again.)

I was a bossy little girl. I wanted everything done my way. I didn’t listen to reason. Or logic. Or my mother. I wanted what I wanted and I didn’t want to think about anything other than the word, “yes.” I wanted to play Barbie or the Game of Life or watch the Zombie movie (Night of the Comet. It’s on YouTube. Look it up. You’re welcome. Sort of) or watch Labyrinth. And I did not want to listen to anyone else.

My poor brother received the brunt of my bossiness. I made him play Barbie. And a game I invented called “Little Things” where we had to get all of our little toys out into the hallway and match them up in like a cage match type thing. I was a strange child.

I can still sometimes be bossy. Like when I tell Brian that he should fold my laundry. (And then he doesn’t, because he shouldn’t, because that’s MY laundry.) Or when I tell my mom that she should cook something in a way that I cook it, and not the way she has cooked it for the last 30 years. (And then she doesn’t, because she shouldn’t, because it’s HER cooking.) Or when I tell my co-workers that they should do something my way. (And then they don’t, because they shouldn’t, because it’s THEIR work.)

But this is something that I’M working through. I have some OCD tendencies. That makes me meticulous, but it also means that I have to actively take note when my OCD tendencies are making me bossy. Instead, I try to give others a chance to voice their opinions and speak up. THAT is what a leader is SUPPOSED to do. Sure, I’m not perfect and I mess up sometimes, but that’s MY goal. To be a true leader.

And I know bossy little boys. And I know boys who grew up into bossy men. And that’s not leadership. It’s not attractive. It’s not desirable. I have a partner who listens when I talk, voices his opinion, and expects me to give him the same courtesy in return.

So I’m going to try to forget I saw anything about this #banbossy campaign, but if you’re down with it, I won’t judge you. Please don’t judge me.

I’m confessing with Kat from Vodka and Soda (mostly because I’m really thirsty after all that ranting!) with #HumpdayConfessions. Now THAT’S a hashtag I can stand behind. 

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42 Responses

  1. 1) thanks for linking up! 🙂

    2) don’t be afraid of being bossy. i think this is a trait that comes in handy once in a while because you know what you want, how to get it and only demand the same quality from others. in my line of work, i have to exude this form of aggression when it calls for it; it’s the only way to get things done. people tend to equate being bossy as being a bitch when that’s not the case at all. and if they do think i’m a bitch, i care zero because i get the job done. it’s why people want me on their projects because sometimes, you need to be a forthcoming to weed through the bullshit and get to the straight goods.

    so own it. you know when the right time is to be bossy and when is not the right time. this is a strength, not a flaw, in my opinion.

  2. I am totally with you on the entirety of do NOT tell me what I can and can not say. Uhm, The FIRST Amendment guarantees that you can not and will not tell what I can and can not say. How’s THAT for redundancy! Bossy bossy Bossy!

    These bossy people need to stop trying to boss every one around and squash every one into a single mold so that we are all exactly the same.

    It sounds like you are a great boss and your bossy ways have not been in vain. Well maybe the whole “Little Things” game but I, am totally not judging you.

    1. YES! The bossy people making the bossy rules! Amen to that! Thanks for articulating what I didn’t because it makes SO much more sense now. *high five*

      And on “Little Things?” Hahaha! I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to throw my ridiculous game into a blog post for a while now. It was seriously one of my favorite things to do and my brother HATED it.

  3. Let them throw things. Catch them and lob them right back. I was a bossy girl too. Am. *sigh* I’m okay with it.

  4. Amen Sister!!! After that whole thing with Sandburg at BlogHer I walked out too before it was finished, I totally disagreed with her. I call my son Bossy all the time, and she was like you never hear a boy being called Bossy, I cry BS! I still call him bossy, because he is!
    And you know what? He learned it from his mama. So there.
    Everything you said is spot on. We are people, not a word, I applaud you. Don’t be afraid, anybody who disagrees with you is just being closed minded and following a mob mentality. I support you.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s nice to hear I’m not alone. Because I SERIOUSLY felt alone when I walked out of that big room full of girl power. because I’m not opposed to girl power, just girl domination. (I’m also not opposed to my own world domination, but that’s a WHOLE other topic.)

  5. And here I thought I was the only one who walked out of that speech in disgust! The whole thing made me sick. And angry. LOTS of angry.
    And yes, I’m not a feminist for so many of the reasons you mentioned. Thank you for this post.

    1. It’s SOOOO good to know that I’m not the only one who left that speech. I was SO disgusted with the conversation that I couldn’t take it.

      I’m glad that my words resonated with you.

  6. One thing I’ve learned working in the corporate world is that being bossy does not make a good leader. Being inspirational, supportive and caring makes a good leader. My boss is one of those people that micromanages sometimes. She should never be managing PEOPLE. One of the partners on the other hand is a people person. People trust her, people talk to her and people WANT to work for her because working with her makes you happy. You want to impress her and you want her to be proud of you and your accomplishments because you get that she really is PROUD of you. That makes a good leader.

  7. I LOVE that you said you walked out on The S.S. Lean In! I tried like hell to read that book, but couldn’t get through half of it. The problem was not with the book, it was with me. I spent a decade (my 20’s) hating men and clawing my way up the corporate ladder after college. I am so worn out from hating men. I found that working hard and smart got me a lot further than man hating and cat clawing. So, sister, I am with you. My bossy feminist days are behind me… Fortunately, world domination is not!

    1. I never had the man-hating thing. I never understood it. I guess I also never experienced it. In my current job, age is the big deciding factor. Can’t we all just be judged based on merit and talent and skill alone?

      I’ll fight you for world domination.

  8. Great post, Chrissy. I am bossy sometimes too. I freely admit that I am not a feminist either. I don’t know why we need to label everything…we are each individuals. Flawed. Imperfect. Humans. I kind of consider bossy as an evolution of leadership…you may start out being bossy and have these overbearing tendencies, but then you LEARN to reign the bossy in, and become a leader and a follower.

  9. I was never a feminist.I secretly felt the “feminists” of the 70’s ruined our normal way of life. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I didn’t want to work. I had to work. We could not buy a house had I not worked. Many wonen wanted to leave their children and work. I actually knew women like this.
    Ok, I have to stop ranting. I feel everyone is entitled to equal pay for equal work. it’s not a reality,but it would be nice. And yes, I too, am bossy. You learned from the master, as did I.

    1. I know you weren’t, Ma. That’s probably part of where I got it from, too. Except I DO want to work. I want to do what I love, which is write. I just don’t want some angry feminist bossing me around while I do it. 😀

  10. Interesting. I hope you don’t get hate mail. Hate mail baffles me.
    I hadn’t heard of this #banbossy thing. Everyone has a campaign, my brain goes numb.
    I read “Lean In” and enjoyed it for the most part– I identified with a lot of what she said and I feel like I observe a lot of the things she pointed out as being in my own workplace. But I don’t get on board with bashing or blaming of anyone. No thanks! That’s crazy that her talk was that overboard that so many people (above) are saying they felt the same way. I can’t imagine…
    Feminism. Hmmm… I remember learning about it in college but I’m sort of lost on what this whatever wave of it is called. I’m not so good with aligning myself under entire philosophies of thought or behavior or causes that are defined by one word… especially when the definition is always changing.
    As far as being bossy– you’re funny. I’m so not bossy…. I just sort of float around doing my own thing. I hate being bossed though… nothing provokes my anger like being told repeatedly what to do. *shoots thunderbolts out of fingertips*
    I’m glad you posted your thoughts, now I’ve been forced to use my brain– something I rarely do in the later afternoon.

    1. Hate mail baffles me too. It’s only happened like twice, and only once was from blogging. The #banbossy thing is brand new. They just launched this week and have a lot of famous people supporting them. Except that there are apparently a LOT of bloggers against it, which I’m discovering and LOVING.

      I don’t think I could read “Lean In,” but I really don’t think I like Sandberg based on her Keynote at BlogHer last year. I’m with you on the not aligning with philosophies and things…

      I also REALLY hate being bossed. Especially when it’s something I know how to do well.

      I’m glad I got you thinking. That was my intention. I think.

  11. From a guy that’s older than you and seen the early days of the feminist movement I can say that putting it mildly, there were great excesses. I actually dated a woman for awhile that went to a feminist college and was brainwashed. She believed stupid things like “History” should be changed to “Herstory”. This is not to say all feminist writers are completely wrong. Some have made good points about the need to open up the corridors of power to women at the highest levels. If you want to call yourself a feminist that’s fine with me. However, realize that there is a lot of baggage with the term and in my opinion, a woman can be strong, intelligent, and wise and not have to call herself that.

    1. I think Herstory is a cute way to refer to the history of a lady…but not history in general.

      I definitely don’t want to call myself a feminist though. I’ll stick with calling myself a Chrissy and a quirky one at that. It suits me best.

  12. UGH, I could’ve done with more bossy as a kid and teen! I was such a pushover and people pleaser….I always envied the chicks that could stand up for themselves and their beliefs. I don’t think I officially got “bossy” until my mid twenties. And my 6yo son is the bossiest person I’ve ever known.

    Kudos for telling your truth. I think that’s so commendable. I’m glad you’re getting tons of support in comments. There’s no reason you should have anything other than that!

    1. My niece is like that now. I hope that she can learn from all the strong women in her life that it’s okay to stand up and shout every now and then. (But respectfully, of course).

      Thank you. I was floored by the amount of support I’ve gotten for this post.

  13. fem·i·nism: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

    That’s it. People add their own agendas to the word but that’s the simple core definition. While I fully support your right to have your own opinion and voice it. I get upset when people unfairly throw the baby out with the bath water because they don’t like aspects or agree with someone else’s take on feminism. I am a feminist because I want to have equal access to the same opportunities and pay as my male counterparts.

    1. feminism: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

      While I understand and accept your point of view, as well, you left out the second part of the definition. I think it’s important, because the very word feminism stems from the word “female,” thus labeling a group based on one gender. If we truly are to have gender equality, we should, instead, utilize language that encompasses the whole, rather than part of the whole. And so I would rather consider myself a humanist, and not a feminist.

  14. I am so happy to hear you feel the same way. I’ve felt this way for quite some time now (about feminism being bad) and am afraid to tell my friends about it. The first time I told my girlfriend (who is a feminist), she literally went into a fit and assumed I was against women and was pro-rape, etc. I’d like to link you to some websites that I find has some good resources. I’m not sure if this blog will think I’m spam so I’ll just post one link for now.


    But the gist of it for me, is that any movement that attempts to silence others and encourages hatred of any kind (in this case against all men) and tries to police what people do and think (telling women how to act and dress and judging other women) – that movement is poisonous.

  15. I think there is an inherent issue with being called “feminist” these days. Women have come a long way for sure, but I often call myself a “bad” feminist because I do things like make my husband dinner (and enjoy it) and don’t like Joan Jett. Feminism has many definitions and if you don’t believe you are one, so be it. But it’s different for everyone. For me, I don’t want to be superior to anyone. Feminism meant that women can so anything or be anything they want – be it a mom, a working mom, an executive, a rodeo clown, whatever. I have a hard enough time being queen of the trailer park, let alone trying to be world dominant 😉

    1. I dunno. I don’t think many women would be able to get through Navy Seals training. If you don’t buy that, I suggest you pick up a copy of *Lone Survivor* by Marcus Luttrell. I like Joan Jett, btw. I think she’s a great performer and rockstar, even if she is over 50 years old now.

  16. I get you on all of this except the feminism thing. I’m a humanist too. But saying I’m not a feminist just because there are certain loud, obnoxious voices who identify themselves as feminists calling to “squash men like bugs” doesn’t make me any less desperate to change conditions for women here and all over the world. If men were also gang raped on buses in India, and married off at 9 in Afghanistan to 40-year-olds, and didn’t have access to birth control in the US, then yeah, I’d be staunchly humanist. But the fact is that when you break down the specific reasons why a person faces obstacles in the world, the simple act of being born female is one big one.

    So to me, everybody, not just women, should be feminists. My husband is a feminist. He believes in making the world a place where women can walk around, work, go to school, get healthcare, and, basically, live happily, just like men. If that sounds radical, then I don’t know what to tell you.

    1. You really think feminists (male or female) are gonna change a place like Afghanistan where most of the country is tribal? Women in the USA got the vote back in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The USA, Europe, Latin America have generally had a good record in this regard. Much of Asia, Africa (particularly the Middle East) hasn’t. I think there’s a lot of naivete around how quickly things can change in the more backward regions.

    2. I’m not saying that I’m not a feminist because there are certain loud obnoxious voices. I’m not a feminist because I don’t think it’s just about women’s rights. Yes, I’m against all of those negative things against women, but I’m also against so much more. I’m against homosexuals being treated like second class citizens (beaten and killed in other countries) and religious persecution (also in other countries) and the negativity surrounding racism (in any direction). I think that all humans have a right to be loved or hated equally and individually, not based on sex, race, color, religion, affiliation. There’s more than just violence against women. And I think THAT is what the cause should be. equality for all humans.

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