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The Detriments of Tokenism: Girl Boss Culture Edition

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

March was Women’s History Month! Women have accomplished so much in the world. However, a mockery is made of their achievements, due to revisionist history. Women’s History Month has a labor and socialist history with strikes and demonstrations taking place all over the world. This especially applies to International Women’s Day, with its premise focusing on the struggles and discussion of working-class women. But unfortunately, our capitalistic society has changed that image.   

woman counting money near notebook on desk
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

We’re in a time where we praise girl bosses even though they’re harming women both here and overseas. And unfortunately, they get a pass. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be happy when women succeed, because we need to be. However, should we be overlooking the pain because of symbolic positions that don’t bring about true change?

The call and fight for increasing the minimum wage to $15 has been a long one. Arguably, due to inflation, $15 isn’t even enough. There have been talks that it should even be higher, at $24. Eight Democrats opposed the bill, but one congresswoman stole the limelight which led to rightful complaints.

Arizona’s senior senator, Kyrsten Sinema, was seen on Friday, March 5, thumbing down with a curtsy when it comes to minimum wage legislation. Her spokesperson said it was sexist for people to comment on her body language or the John McCain-inspired gesture she did while voting. Sexism is a real issue, but to use smoke and mirrors when important dialogue and action must be met coerces vital issues to be invisible.

Women and families would benefit from an increased minimum wage. According to American Progress, 19 million women — who are 59 percent of the majority of minimum wage workers — would benefit from this. This is more than one in four women. It also proves to be substantial toward Brown and Black women, as they’re seen as overrepresented in working minimum wage jobs.

As a senator who is supposed to be supporting her constituents and belongs to a party that proclaims to champion women’s rights, it feels hypocritical. Being a bisexual woman doesn’t change this equation, even though those identifiers do come with oppression.

People scream that women need to support other women, but they fail to capture the full picture. Why should we support women bringing down working-class people, whether it’s directly or indirectly? Girl boss culture supports white feminism or feminism that TERFS adjust themselves to. 

We see this type of empowerment in the places we learn and write, in some of the apps we use, and in the socialites we follow. We see it in a hustle culture that doesn’t tell the full truth of where people’s wealth is really coming from, since it actually comes from people in the global south who don’t see the fruit of their labor.

Just recently, Kim Kardashian has finally entered the billionaire class. This isn’t new for the Kardashian clan — her youngest sister, Kylie Jenner, and former partner, Kanye West, already belong to the class as well. Is that really worth a full congratulations? When our society doesn’t even do the bare minimum with taxing the wealthy who have their cake and eat it too? Our world has enormous amounts of poverty.

Some realize this with the Elon Musks and Jeff Bezoses in our world, but we need to include all billionaires regardless of if they’re a part of marginalized identities — they partake in oppression as do their white male counterparts.

There are many national organizations who say they’re for women’s rights, but don’t practice intersectionality and push these things further down their hierarchy as chapters to continue a cycle of not providing change. It allows for clinging onto a status quo that benefits them but hurts plenty of other women.

They may have a colorful board, but they don’t support the majority of these ethnicities, disabilities and sexualities. People think this is the final step to make our world better, but in reality, it’s an illusion that pushes us backward, not forward.

Trading long winters for long summers, Deborah has been living in the Sunshine state to complete her education. Deborah currently attends the University of Central Florida where she double majors in political science and psychology with a minor in journalism studies. Her hobbies consist of singing, gardening, writing, reading, and playing on the ukulele. If you want to find her outside of studying, you’ll see her at the local coffee shop reading a DC comics book.
UCF Contributor