“Gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss.”
The girlboss movement was created with intentions of empowering women to continue combatting gender stereotypes and making their way into the white collar world. It has especially grown in 2021 with the rising popularity of apps like TikTok and Instagram, which are the home of the ideal “Girlboss.”
I figured it would be, in theory, relatively similar to feminism. Feminism, “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes,” is built on the foundation that this can be achieved by all women. The beauty behind the feminist movement is the intersectionality which unites us all.
After becoming curious enough to see what this girlboss hype was all about, I soon began my first official girlboss deepdive. Scrolling through TikTok for hours seeing videos of beautiful women living in lavish New York City apartments and eating at restaurants that probably cost more than my rent: I soon came to the realization that the girlboss movement, infact, is entirely the opposite of what I thought it would stand for.
A wave of disappointment consumed me after accepting that this movement is inherently just another performative social media stunt which sets unrealistic expectations for women, especially young ones, everywhere. There was quite literally not an ounce of racial or physical diversity in any of the videos that I had come across. To be blunt with you, the girlboss movement is really just performative feminism.
My intention isn’t to discredit the women who have created success for themselves. However, it is extremely apparent that the popular corporations in which women are being placed at the top of tend to have an adverse affect on the feminist movement.
When I think of feminism, I think of intersectionality. I think of transgender women, women who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, women who fit all racial and physical profiles. I don’t think of the continuation of toxic corporate practices and performative practices which set toxic examples for others.. It breaks my heart to see only a certain category of women being presented with these opportunities.
The corporate and capitalistic world has been run by the white, cisgender man for as long as time. Top tier positions have been generationally granted to white men, however, with the recent rise in popularity of women being hired at these companies, white women are now being granted these opportunities.
While the rise in female representation is amazing and extremely progressive, there is an extreme and apparent lack of representation and diversity in the advancements of opportunities offered to women of color. White women who fit society's description of beauty and “traditionality” seem to be at the forefront of this movement.
In 2021, there were a total of 41 women CEOs in America. Out of these 41 women, only 5 were women of color. Fortune writer Emma Hinchliffe divulges this research in her analysis of women among 500 global businesses.
The continuation of placing white cis women in the place of white cis men in power does not truly represent the movement goals of achieving gender equity. True gender equity can be achieved when all genders of all colors can be treated equally with equal opportunities in the workplace.
While this situation may not strike you as important, you need to consider the facts and now compare the differences between the feminist movement and the girlboss movement. Feminism is intersectional and equally represents all identifying women of all colors, shapes, occupations and sizes. Feminism has been an ongoing fight to achieve gender equality for ALL women. Looking at the girlboss movement, the face of such is primarily a skinny, white, cisgender woman who is introduced to the top tier corporate world. The hustle is there, but the representation isn’t.
Incorporating intersectionality into the girlboss movement would significantly raise awareness for the need to diversify women in important positions in the workplace. The popularization of this was done through social media, showing the need for female diversity and equality would be a pivotal lesson. Doing such would create increased equitable representation and less exploitative workplaces which are built on foundations of toxic masculinity.
I don’t know if I would consider myself a girlboss. I don’t even know if I would want to be considered one, really. The girlboss movement honestly seems like a slight slap in the face to anybody who doesn’t fit that description or standard. Progressivism is a key aspect of the fight for women's rights and equality, and that seems to be lacking in the girlboss bubble.
As a woman who has experienced sexism and exploitation, I know how hard it is to make your way in this world. These women who are paving the way for themselves professionally are making strides that many haven’t before. I would never want to discredit them. However, I can’t help but find myself blindsided by the continued prejudice and fear of diversity which has become so normalized in our society.
To educate yourself on the ongoing prejudice practices impacting women every day, the The Women's Diversity Network is a resource -from my hometown- on Long Island which provides connections and mobilization for women and gender-expressive individuals of varying backgrounds, to create positive change through unity and collective work toward their final goal of equality for all.