Telling You Not to Use the Word 'Bossy' is, well, Kind of Bossy. Isn’t it?
I just love irony. If you are that kind of person too, the nonsense coming out of the mouth of Michelle Obama and her unindicted co-conspirators should be one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that we could savor for a long, long time.
Sadly, this is also a great example of how the left (or Progressives, liberals, Marxists, Socialists, Democrats – choose the word you like best) consistently screws up. They are the undefeated and undisputed world champions of overreach.
When the least politically astute of people hear this sort of thing, even they begin to ask “Wait a minute! Isn’t telling me not to use the word “bossy” being kind of bossy? Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose?”
The answer to that question is clearly, “You bet your (supply your own euphemism) it does!”
Words are the most common way to describe thoughts. We frequently change words to be as minimally offensive to the listener as possible. Think how often you already do this, even without the guidance of the First Lady. The words “portly," “stout," “husky" and others are common substitutes for the word “fat” because people that are clinically obese somehow find being called “fat” to be more hurtful than those others.
This sort of politically correct language lesson can actually be quite instructive if the right hammers home the idiocy of this latest overreach. If these good people insist that the word “bossy” be expunged from every dictionary in the world, what is their preference to replace it? Human nature will not change, and a bossy person will always be a bossy person, no matter how their behavior is described, because the word only describes and communicates the thought.
Changing “terrorism” to “man-caused disasters” or “workplace violence” didn’t change what happened, did it? Perhaps “workplace violence” sounds nicer to certain people, but at Fort Hood, over thirty people died. Does renaming terrorism as workplace violence mean those poor people come back to life?
So if feminists want to see the word “bossy” forever banished, then the rest of us need to be able to use a different term to communicate the same behavior we used to refer to as bossy. If that different word doesn’t accurately describe what we’re are trying to convey, then it doesn’t help person-to-person understanding, now does it?
As evidence, for those who actually lived through the civil rights era of the 60’s, the amount of word games that were played seemed to be unending. Colored people became Negros which became Afro-Americans which became African-Americans or Blacks. Trying to keep up with the changes was maddening, even for those of us who were very supportive of the effort.
So let’s try a few alternatives to bossy, and see how they score on the accurate-communication (AC) versus that-word-makes-women-feel-better (MWFB) scale. I provided the AC ratings, while my beautiful bride provided her ratings on the MWFB scale. Not highly scientific or objective or all that good stuff, but you have to take what you can get.
Synonym AC Scale MWFB Scale
Despotic 90 0
Dogmatic 80 0
Imperious 85 0
Overbearing 80 0
Arrogant 95 0
Domineering 90 0
As you can see, there are alternate words that do a better than fair job of describing the behavior that has been labeled “bossy," but none seem any less offensive in the eyes of women.
The problem is apparently that Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner and the rest of the bossy, politically correct herd that are demanding that we ban the word bossy haven’t provided a replacement word that they can all agree on.
It’s sad that these self-acclaimed experts on how to communicate well (while not offending anyone) seem to live in what Michelle herself might call a “vocabulary desert.” But then perhaps “sad” is an offensive word to be avoided. Perhaps we should say that instead of “sad” it’s just evidence that they themselves are simply despotic, dogmatic, imperious, overbearing, arrogant and domineering. But never forget (as if they’d let you) they are absolutely not bossy!
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy and American cultural idiocy. Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org