The term girlboss has recently reentered pop culture and I could not be more annoyed about it.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, according to Urban Dictionary, “girlboss” is a verb defined as, “to make something or someone appear as a feminist idol or inspiration for profit, despite the numerous flaws of the person.”
While the idea of a girlboss started as a feminist idea, fighting against the majority male leadership at many companies and in government. Though the flaws of girlbosses were quickly realized by many, including myself.
In the same way that LGBTCIA supposedly adds more representation in positions of power without reforming the same institutions that have historically harmed Americans, girlbossing does not actually fix the capitalist structure that harms people.
Girlbosses are subverting the American system in gender roles, but it still perpetuates the harmful system that has led to more wealth inequality than during the time of the French Revolution. Looking at women in roles of power through the lens of class consciousness, focusing on how class affects American society, it is clear that girlbosses step on the backs of others to make it to the place that they are at.
Girlbossing endorses the idea of hustle culture in America, a harmful and untrue concept. Before many legal changes, women were completely held out of positions of power or even well-paying jobs. Now that women are able to attain these positions, many are still kept out of roles. Telling women that if they work hard enough and give everything up, they’ll have the chance to be rich and powerful is extremely harmful and untrue.
People in positions of power like to spread the myth of meritocracy in America to keep those below them in line. If people believe that they too can come from any background and end up in the shoes of Jeff Bezos, they are more likely to operate under an oppressive system. Most Americans are much closer to losing their entire wealth than they are to reaching the wealth of Elon Musk or any other billionaire in their lifetime.
I truly believe that women should occupy positions of power in similar numbers to men, but just having women in these positions is not enough. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is not a politician of the people because she is a girlboss, or simply because she is a woman. She is so great because of her advocacy for the underrepresented.
While there was value in the term girlboss even 15 years ago to supplant the idea of men in charge, the idea has evolved into something that is harmful to society at large.
Girlbossing hurts women by forcing them to feel as if they have to hustle constantly and give up any outside life they have to be successful. Basing success off of money and power, as girlbosses encourage us to do, completely disregards women who work in lower-paying jobs, stay at home or have a life outside of work.
To put it simply: girlbossing is toxic femininity and harmful to women. Regardless of money and power, all women are valid and placing value on those things should not be a part of feminist movements.