News from the world of language this week: a campaign from one of the Facebook bosses to ban the word "bossy" as applied to women. It's received the support of celebrities and a lot of news coverage.
It's true, "bossy" is used disproportionately with respect to women, and particularly with respect to women who have achieved success. And in that use it is a mild pejorative, a piece of annoying mild sexism rather than a hate word. One that is probably better not used.
I have to admit I have a problem with the campaign to ban it. Not because of its aim, but because of its futility. However laudable your aim, language does not change just because you say it should. Language use is in the hands of its speakers, not in those of a few people. Like the campaign to suppress a sense of "gay" I wrote about a couple of months ago this campaign risks the opposite effect to its intent, turning "bossy" from a mild annoyance to a word with barbs. MtF transgender people have the unique perspective of having seen male locker room culture at work, and based on that experience I predict the "bossy" campaign will result in more use of the word, not less.