NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 12, 2014

What would Bossy Gillis think of this?

We wonder what Newburyport’s most nefarious mayor, Andrew “Bossy” Gillis, would think of this modern day controversy over his well-known and well-earned nickname.

There’s a movement afoot to ban the use of the word “bossy,” at least in the context of applying it to girls.

According to the nascent “Let’s Ban Bossy” movement, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’ Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.”

This politically correct nonsense is sponsored by the liberal group LeanIn.Org and the Girl Scouts, who ought to know better.

Efforts to ban the use of certain words in our exceptionally rich English language have been going on for some time. As Time magazine recently pointed out, among the words that various groups have sought to ban are tornado (it caused panic), poverty (too pejorative), quid pro quo (too Latin), failed (too harsh; “deferred success” was preferred), and illegal immigrant (too stigmatizing).

Hard to say at this point whether the “ban bossy” movement will succeed. The usual airhead celebrities couldn’t wait to join the movement. It also drew the support of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican. This seems like neither a Republican nor “Live Free or Die” thing to get behind.

What’s curious about this movement is that traditionally, “bossy” is a gender-neutral word.

Sure, Lucy in the cartoon strip “Peanuts” was notoriously called bossy for her domineering attitude toward male characters, especially younger brother Linus, who dealt with it by ignoring her, and Charlie Brown, who listened to her at his peril when she volunteered to position the football for his kickoff.

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