Disclaimer: I love a good tagline. I love simple, clean missions. I love short sentences and purposefully-chosen words. When Facebook big-wig Sheryl Sandberg started saying things like “lean in” and “ban bossy,” I listened. Sandberg said we need more female leaders. I agreed. Sandberg said women need to be bold and engage in high-level business because we have minds too. I agreed.

But why do we have to #banbossy? On my foundations and morals of language, I disagree.

I read a piece in The New Yorker that epitomizes my internal struggle. Margaret Talbot writes, “For one thing, ‘bossy’ is a useful descriptive word that invokes a particular kind of behavior. It’s not actually a synonym, derogatory or otherwise, for leadership or authoritativeness, nor necessarily a criticism of women who embody those qualities. What it usually connotes is someone who is not in fact your boss, or a boss at all, telling you what to do. It’s the kid in your social-studies class informing you that you’re doing the assignment all wrong, or the person on the bus dispensing unsolicited advice on child rearing.”

Sheryl, why do we have to ban bossy? Shouldn’t we just readjust the way we use the word? Can’t we appropriate it to positive, proactive presences instead? By banning a word, Sheryl, you diminish the meaning that we have the opportunity to express with language. You mar its richness. Sheryl, #don’tbanbossy.

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