Beyonce stars in a Lifetime PSA to ‘Ban Bossy’: ‘I’m not bossy. I’m the boss’


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg caused a lot of controversy/discussion when her memoir/business advice book Lean In was published last year. I never got around to reading it, but I read a lot of the coverage of the book, which had the central premise of “women need to ‘lean in’ to their careers” and “career ambition is not a bad thing for women.” Sandberg was criticized for speaking to (and for) a lot of upper-class, educated white women exclusively, but I kind of thought that the general points about setting career goals, seeking mentorships with powerful women and men and fighting for your own interests were well-received. Sandberg wasn’t trying to say “every woman needs to be like this” or “my experience was universal.” She meant to start a larger conversation and that’s what she did.

Well, now Sandberg is doing a “Lean In” PSA for Lifetime called “Ban Bossy”. The PSA also stars Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Beyonce, secretary of education Arne Duncan and more. The idea is that when men take control and have ambitions, they’re called “the boss.” When women do the same, they’re called “bossy,” like it’s a pejorative. Beyonce chimes in at the end of the PSA with this: “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”

Tina Fey wrote about this “bossy” issue in her wonderful memoir Bossypants as well. Tina has always been “bossy” – and she ended up becoming the boss, an employer to many, many people. Speaking as someone who was called “bossy” time and time again when I was a girl… this is a great message. Really. Except that when I was called bossy, I never took it as an insult. I was always like, “Oh, I guess I’m bossy then. Now let me tell you what to do.”



Photos of Beyonce and Jay-Z in London on Friday, courtesy of WENN.

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37 Responses to “Beyonce stars in a Lifetime PSA to ‘Ban Bossy’: ‘I’m not bossy. I’m the boss’”

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  1. Grant says:

    When I was a little boy, I was called bossy. What does it meeeeean?!

  2. qwerty says:

    Oh, it’s Monday, I guess she’s a feminist today.

    • Tatjana says:

      Are girls really less likely to take the lead when they go to middle school? In my experience it was completely different. Girls were always more mature, so every project, every asignment, we would take rhe lead and tell boys what to do.

    • katy says:

      Love this too. A lot of young girls (especially elementary school aged) have their ambitions squashed when they exhibit them. Hell, my second grade teachers tried to get me to stop reading material that was ahead of my grade level (to which my mom told them to eff off). Their attempts at trying to stop me were unsuccessful.

      I was always “bossy,” but I never took it disparagingly. My little mind just thought, “Bosses are bossy, so get the hell used to it.”

      • Lauraq says:

        That happened to me in Kindergarten. I tried to check out a chapter book and was told it was beyond me (I was the only kindergartner who could read, and I did so at a 5th grade level). My mom got the policy changed there and when we transferred to a different school, called ahead to make sure they knew she wouldn’t be tolerating that. The end joke is that when I was finally able to check out my 5th grade book (The Cat Who Went to Heaven-I liked cats and we’re Christians, so I liked Heaven), my mom pre read it and wouldn’t let me read it because she thought it was satanic.

  3. idk says:

    I never considered the word “bossy” as something only associated with women. There are a lot of bossy men out there. Being “The Boss” means you’re the head of a company or business. I have seen little boys, and male teens being very “bossy”. Also, when an immature male sees a woman as being too “bossy” he calls her a “b*tch”. At least this generation does. We should focus on THAT word instead I think. Either way, I do think it’s great that someone is bringing attention to this subject as even in 2014, women do not get the respect they deserve.

  4. amanda says:

    I am so so sick of women saying ‘lets ban the word ____”

    we shouldn’t have to ‘ban’ anything, we should just grow and work past being affected by it.

    When people are called ‘stupid’ or ‘worthless’ or are told ‘she’ll go nowhere in life”, they use it to prove they aren’t or that it isn’t true, they don’t say “lets ban the word stupid because Im not”, they say “call me stupid, i’ll prove you wrong”.

    banning the words fat or bossy isn’t going to change anything, but changing our feelings on being called the word itself will.

    it only affects you in the way you let it affect you. if you don’t react (and that includes reacting with ‘that word should be banned’) then the word has no power.

    there’s nothing wrong with being ‘fat’ in the eyes of another person, there’s nothing wrong with being ‘bossy’ in the eyes of another person….call me these things all you want, that doesn’t change the fact that I am NOT THESE THINGS NOR DO THESE WORDS DEFINE ME.

    • Koji says:

      The first thing I thought was…this is pointless. I’m not saying it’s not a valiant cause, but of all the demeaning terms that women have to hear in their lives, all of this star power and energy is being put towards ending bossy? This just sounds like another group of celebrities piggy backing on the work of real activist and picking the easiest target because they can’t be bothered to do real work. Hell, atleast J. Law was on to something when she stated that fat-shaming should be banned. However, I guess someone who has admitted to many crash diets (love you, bey, but nooo) couldnt be an effective messenger to fight back against, idk eating disorders? I’m pretty sure that affecting women more than being called bossy right now.

      • wheezy says:

        Agree, this seems a waste of focus. I was always “bossy,” and guess what, I was also always successful, in charge and independent, I NEVER took that as an insult. There are WAY WAY WAY better causes out there that plague women and girls.
        Honestly, I think Beyonce was all too happy to talk about herself, and now its a PSA. Who exactly is she empowering?

  5. Tapioca says:

    Yeah, baby, yeah! If only more women “expressed their sexuality” in their careers, had daddy to screw over their co-workers and shamelessly stole other people’s work, then that glass ceiling would be smashed in no time!

    A career built on aesthetics and plagiarism is hardly what women should be aspiring to – you’re hardly the “boss” if you’re a slave to keeping your looks…

  6. Tiffany says:

    Bey is the wrong person to endorse this message because I do not believe she truly grasp what it means. Interview after interview has proven this. Her PR staff really does her an injustice when they just roll along with this.

  7. MrsB says:

    This seems like a pretty pointless PSA to me. I understand that women who hold positions of power are treated differently than men, and that is a worthy cause to tackle, but I don’t understand why they bring the word ‘bossy’ into it. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard an adult call another adult bossy. That word is usually describing children, and it is directed at boys and girls equally.

  8. Sarah says:

    I’m bossy! I’m the first girl to scream on a track
    I switched up the beat of the drum
    That’s right I brought all the boys to the yard
    And that’s right I’m the one that’s tattooed on his arm

    I’m bossy! I’m the bitch y’all love to hate
    I’m the chick that’s raised the stakes
    I told young Stanley he should switch to Bape
    I’m back wit an 808 cause I’m bossy!

    Anddd…. that’s all I got folks.

  9. Monie says:

    No words should be banned. Everyone is free to call others what they want. However, they must also respect the receiver’s freedom to fire them, ignore them, cuss them out, or other consequences they may incur.

    We need to stop with the idea that we have the right to go through life never getting insulted or our feelings hurt. Life isn’t like that, fair or not. We need to develop a spine and respond to verbal aggressors with grace…or a scathing wit that makes them want to curl up and perish. I enjoy the latter. :-)

  10. aims says:

    I think a strong independent women doesn’t let titles define who they are. They live their lives to the best of their abilities and anyone who has a problem with it can suck it.

  11. cmc says:

    Lean In is an excellent book, you should read it! As a young minority woman with no husband/kids but a lotttt of pressure about finding that part of life, it made me feel a lot more confident about my decision to lean into my career and shoot for the top of my industry- and that it’s okay to want both and women are capable of “having it all”. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t relate to the book since it was written by a wealthy white woman.

  12. Anna says:

    This reminds me if what Nicki Minaj was saying last year that when men (for example rappers in the idustry) take control on set or in the studio they’re seen as a “boss” and are admired (Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Jay Z) but when it’s women (especially WOC) they’re seen as just being a bitch and no one respects what they’re saying

  13. Me2 says:

    Ugh. This drives me crazy. Some women are bossy. Men can be bossy. Some little girls AND boys are bossy. “Bossy” people are (generally) obnoxious. You can most certainly be a leader without being the definition of bossy. You can lead, own a business, and be an inspiration to others without being bossy– no matter what your color, ethnicity or sex. Dumbest thing ever.

  14. bns says:

    I knew people would complain about this because Beyonce is involved. Every. Single. Time.

    • Yeller says:

      I know right? Obviously the point of the campaign is to trigger thinking around this issue, force parent and teachers to consider the effects of their words. Obviously the campaign isnt trying to criminalise the word or whatever people seem to be thinking. All of this should be obvious but something about Beyonces name seems to send brains into spasms. Ofcourse in afew years she’ll enter the “living legend” phase and people will be bending over backwards to worship her (see Wino ‘Thieving’ Ryder and Kate ‘Coke Snorter’ Moss.

  15. Huh says:

    Now I have that Kelis song stuck in my head!
    “I’m bossy! I’m that chick y’all love to hate..” Off to youtube..

  16. TheOneandOnlyOnly says:

    The weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal had a long article about this issue – if bouncy came to this issue on her own it would be credible, but you know her pr team is filling her head with things she has no knowledge of or genuine interest in – that’s why people don’t like it when celebutards suddenly “discover” an issue – there’s no naturalness to it, especially when someone as fake and unintelligent as bouncy is concerned. Meryl Streep yes, this nitwit – no, stick to arse shaking and hair tossing.

  17. danielle says:

    I like the message! I think it is a good point.

  18. Chad E. Shue says:

    This is stupid. Boys are called “bossy” too just as much. “Bossy” is not a good trait, period, and it’s not the same as being “a boss” or THE “boss”. It means you’re acting like a controlling taint-barnacle. Bossy people suck, regardless of gender. Never liked them, never will. Most “bosses” can go to hell too for that matter.

  19. Val says:

    Everyone looks genuine… but Beyoncé looks like she’s reading off a teleprompter! Everyone looks more or less normal, Bey looks airbrushed to oblivion. Completely ruins the whole thing.
    Sorry B :/

  20. blinditemreader says:

    Sad to see Bey and others getting behind this. Two good reads about the problems with Lean In rhetoric:

    And another really great one from bell hooks:

  21. nicegirl says:

    GREAT PSA, Love it! Awesome to include men as well in the messaging, love seeing Arne Duncan and Sprint Cup Winner Jimmie Johnson! I wish they would air this kind of PSA during the Nascar races. Wouldn’t it help more to send the message to men as well?

  22. Kmbly says:

    Hmm. In both these picture Beyoncé is wearing high heeled pointy shoes. Women suffer from foot problems to men 4-1. Let us ban high heeled pointy shoes! For the sake of our girls feet. Yes, that is a campaign I could get behind. Look at the comfy shoes the men are wearing in the pictures with Beyoncé.
    Why try to ban a word such as bossy?? If this is what the feminist have left to focus on, then I say their hard work is done and to stop being so nit picky.
    I don’t like this campaign because it makes girls seem too sensitive, fragile and weak.
    Sometimes people are forced to be bossy because others are sitting on their laurels being lazy.