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Do Bossy Women Buy Life Insurance?

Do bossy women buy life insurance? Not really. For that matter, bossy men don’t either.

Why not? To start, here is the dictionary definition of bossy:

boss·y1 [baw-see, bos-ee] ; given to ordering people about; overly authoritative; domineering.

In this day and age, people who act like that don’t get a lot of things done. This is especially true with regards to family finances. If either the husband or the wife acted like a dictator, the marriage would be in turmoil, and important purchases like life insurance wouldn’t take place. A generation ago, family dynamics were different and men ran the show. These days, women play a much more important role. Even stay-at-home moms are given the recognition they are due. So, neither partner is really going to be completely passive in family decision making.

At the same time, there are many households in which the wife and mother don’t take charge enough. The fact that women have been discouraged from assuming leadership roles has made many of them weak household managers. From the point of view of family financial health and security, it has probably contributed to the insurance gap between men and women. This has been described in a prior post.

But should the solution to that problem focus on a ban of the word bossy? Yes, claims an activist coalition comprised of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Girl Scouts USA, and a number of celebrities. It is called ban.bossy, and they believe that removing the word from our language will thereby remove an obstacle to women assuming leadership.

Here is how they describe their mission:

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.

Let’s take a look at how that idea might work in a typical family. John and Mary have been married a few years. They have young children, and life insurance is on their mind. They make similar incomes but John has taken out more insurance on himself than on Mary. The simple reason is that he thinks his income is more important because he is the male.

Mary, of course, realizes how unreasonable this is, and so protests. John feels threatened by her assertiveness and bullies her a bit to “keep her in line.” He may very well try to take the “moral high road” by calling her “bossy”. In doing so he deflects the issue from his own obstinance and chauvinism, to her allegedly personality flaw. A very convenient tactic by people who are too afraid to grow up.

This is unfortunately a common dynamic with many couples, don’t you think?

What can be done? I think Mary has two basic options here. She could launch a campaign to remove the word bossy from their dialogue. This could have two desirable results. One, it could make him stop using a word that hurts. Two, it could make him aware and sensitive to past traumatic experiences she has suffered at the hands of people who wanted to keep her down.

At the same time, this tactic could have two undesirable results. One, it could make it really hard for John and Mary to make up and make amends. How could John ever say, “I’m sorry for calling you bossy” if he can’t use the word? Furthermore, let’s suppose that Mary did get a little bossy. After all, she was never given true leadership training. How could she ever say, “I’m sorry for being a bit bossy to you” if she can’t use the word?

The other undesirable result could be a complete loss of credibility by Mary. Here she is trying to get people to stop calling her bossy, and then she goes ahead and tries to censor their language. That is a very bossy thing to do.

It seems to me that a better option for Mary would be a campaign along the lines of “Lead With Love.” Okay, she was discriminated against because she was a female. Okay, her husband is showing some of that same prejudice. Scrubbing his speech won’t get the family the life insurance it needs. She should just go ahead and buy the policy that would be right for her. When her husband whines and cries about her “overstepping her authority,” she can simply smile and say, “Don’t worry, honey, I took care of it because I love you and the children. Thanks anyway.” Nobody would like to be shown up like this – especially a man with his fragile ego – but nobody ever said growing up would be easy. Who better else to help him man-up than a loving wife who is only doing what is best for the family?

All the people who have been trying to keep women down don’t really know what leadership is. They are simply bossy people trying to prevent others from being as bossy as them. In doing so, they have created real problems in the world. One of those problems is that women have insufficient life insurance. To solve this problem, women should lead with love and not try to ban bossy.

What do you think?