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Molly Longest / Her Campus

The Flaws of Girl Boss Feminism: An Ideology or Aesthetic?

The modern wave of feminism ranges from tackling rape culture and from that the arrival of the #MeToo movement, the Women’s March, and equalizing the wage gap. This modern era of feminism has been overridden by the Girl Boss movement, which encourages the rise of women in corporate America. While in its introduction, it was meant to encourage women, it has been turned to an aesthetic, and has white-washed and capitalized the feminist movement. In an article titled, “How the #GirlBoss has commodified feminism,” Lucy Carter stated, 

“The very notion of associating feminism and female liberation with success within a social framework that restricts, and limits others is questionable, especially with the rise in intersectional feminism in recent years. Girl boss feminism, when placed in a wider context, doesn’t benefit women as a whole as it refuses to consider the issues of race, class and sexual identity that are so prevalent in the prevention of women’s freedoms worldwide.” 

Girl boss feminism has taken a movement whose purpose is to liberate women and better their lives worldwide but instead has turned it into the aesthetic of successful, corporate, white women. Instead of liberating women, it urges them to work up the corporate women, often stepping on other women in the process. It encourages women, only through the system of capitalism. In capitalism, women can never be fully liberated, as so much of capitalism exists at the expense of women. Not only has girl boss feminism worked for corporate, wealthy, white women, but it exists at the expense of other women and has capitalized both feminism and off their struggle and manages to turn this feminism into an aesthetic. Most girl boss themed t-shirts featuring feminist mantras are made in sweatshops in developing countries by women who work in unsafe conditions for low and unfair wages. Carter wrote, “Much of girl boss feminism seeks not to change patriarchal systems, but rather to work within them to find personal success.” As a consequence of this, women now are forced to clarify what kind of feminists they are, whether they are intersectional feminists or feminists that align with this girl boss culture. This mainstream girl boss feminism feeds into the lie that feminism is no longer needed because women being successful in corporate settings are more visible and normalized. However, it fails to see the majority of women, many women of color, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups of women whose expense girl boss feminism exists and who are hurt by it. It fails to acknowledge that the women who are succeeding often come from privilege in some form, whether because of their race, wealth, or another source of privilege. It discounts intersectional feminism which works to improve the lives of and liberate all women outside the oppressive bonds of capitalism. Because of this, there needs to be more of a push for an intersectional feminism that is inclusive for all women and an emphasis on feminism that liberates instead of pushing a capitalist agenda. There are many different approaches to try to attain equality for all people and the girl boss feminism is not it. Feminism should be intersectional and work for the good of all, and those who identify should ensure that they are working to better the lives of all women everywhere.

Just a Nebraska gal in the Big Apple, a freshman at St. John's, and an advocate for rainy days, the color green, Harry Potter, thrifting, New Girl, and iced chai lattes with oat milk.
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