LIFESTYLE

Does Sheryl Sandberg's 'Ban Bossy' Campaign Address The Right Issues? Many Have Their Doubts

14/03/2014 13:40 GMT | Updated 14/03/2014 13:59 GMT

Sheryl Sandberg's 'Ban Bossy' campaign, which is a stand against using gendered and derogatory language to describe women, is certainly picking up momentum.

Within the first day of launching the site received more than one million visits and the hashtag #BanBossy has been trending on both Facebook and Twitter.

The initiative, which was launched with Sheryl's non-profit Lean In Foundation and the Girl Scouts of USA, has support from big names including Beyonce, Ellen Degeneres and Michelle Obama.

But 'Ban Bossy' isn't without its critics. Since news of the campaign launched, it has triggered infighting across the board from a range of media outlets and highly-prominent feminists.

ban bossy

Tamsin Kelly, editor of Parentdish.co.uk and mother of a 15-year-old girl, says that the campaign's focus is out of touch with the real needs of young girls.

"It’s a well-meaning but small campaign with some big voices behind it. Small because one word does not sum up young girls’ experiences – it’s annoyingly naïve and reductionist," she told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

The solution, she says, is by focussing on inspiring leaders not nit-picking about language choices.

She adds: "Encircling girls with the expectation that they can do and be whatever they want will always achieve far more than a few video soundbites. Girls need powerful role models – whether that’s mothers, close family or brilliant, high-achieving women coming into their schools to give talks."

Writing for Telegraph Radhika Sanghani says that "you can’t change out-dated sexist thinking just by banning a piece of vocabulary".

Instead of banning the word bossy - which is merely an adjective derived from the noun 'boss' - Radhika believes we should reclaim the word and use it to empower women and girls.

This sentiment is echoed through rival hashtags such #AffirmAssertive and #EmbraceBossy, which hopes to drown out negativity with positive reenforcement.

Carla Buzasi, editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK, also believes positive encouragement is fundamental in nuturing strong women.

"I think we need to teach girls to support each other better. There's absolutely nothing wrong with ambition, a belief in their abilities and pride in who they are and what they do, they just need to acknowledge all those qualities in the women around them, too," she told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

Others have warned that the campaign risks excluding some women.

"It’s good to encourage girls to be leaders. But not all leaders have extroverted personalities. In fact, some of the best ones are quiet, shy loners who were likely never called 'bossy' in their lives," writes Olga Khazan in The Atlantic.

Writing for The Week, Joshunda Sanders argues that the campaign oozes white privilege. "Among black women 'bossy' is an anthem, not a pejorative," she writes.

But this tidal wave of criticism should not be seen as a bad thing.

No matter how black and blue 'Ban Bossy' emerges from the latest feminist punch up, at least it has shone a spotlight on women's issues. And for that we can only be grateful.

What do you think of the campaign? Let us know in the comments below.