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Why Girlboss “Feminism” Isn’t Feminism

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Holy Cross chapter.

I’ve considered myself a feminist for as long as I was aware enough of myself to take on this identity. Ten year-old me was certainly furious when my principal asked “four strong boys” in my 5th grade class to carry boxes of pizza to our pizza party. I even knew I wanted to become a mother long before I realized I wanted to build my life with a partner. However, my identity as a feminist has never had anything to do with my potential to succeed in a corporate setting, in STEM fields, my single relationship status, or even how “masculine” I present in formal or academic settings. Rather, feminism takes meaning in my life through my right to simply be myself in every way possible. This distinction is precisely where I take issue with “girlboss” feminism. (I should note that the term “girlboss” has a more specific, commercialized significance attributed to Sophia Amoruso. I’m speaking solely on the broader concept of the “girlboss” that so quickly became an ideal throughout mainstream media.)

The very term “girlboss” seems to imply that the words “girl” and “boss” are inherently at odds, thus the need to combine the two in order to indicate a woman boss-figure. In reality, a woman can be a “boss” in an infinite variety of environments. Historically, of course, women have been (and continue to be) ostracized in corporate fields, or else discouraged from entering those fields altogether. However, “girlboss” feminism has only superficially contributed to the progress of more women succeeding in business, if at all. It may seem to spread a message of empowerment for “strong” women, when it actually neglects the experiences of all those who don’t align with this path. It especially neglects the women who work at the lowest levels of corporations – mostly women of color in exploited nations, who make less than a fair living wage and suffer other abuses at the hands of powerful executives. Are these women not just as strong and worthy as those at the top of the corporate ladder? Can “girlbosses” include women who strive every day to improve their economic stability, but to little or no avail? Do we fault these women for not having the “strength” to achieve their wildest dreams, or do we applaud them for their courage in living their lives as fully as they can, even with the incredible difficulties they face? I think we all know the answer.

Lauren Mlicko

Holy Cross '26

she/her | Queens, NYC | artist & storyteller