Girlbossism

Dear Asian Youth,

While social media can be a great asset to social progress, as demonstrated by a certain organization you are reading this from, it can also take us back quite a few steps. This is attributed to algorithms, group polarization, and confirmation bias. Even if we think we are on the “right” (but left) side of the internet, questionable rhetoric for social change still exists in the name of activism.

One of the most prominent examples I have seen of this is the “girls support girls,” white, Liberal feminism. It’s always girlboss CEOs, women war criminals. She got a seat at the table! But why is the table not bigger? Why does the table exist in the first place? Girl boss-feminism (girl-bos-sis-m) is an extremely harmful movement to the young, impressionable members of our society who tend to follow ideologies blindly without their own critical thinking. The main critique of girlbossism is that this “positivity” fails to deconstruct and disassemble the white-centered patriarchal structures ingrained into society but instead perpetuate them.

For instance, sex positivity is one of the biggest focuses. We need to end the outdated practices of slut shaming, stigmitizing sex for women, and criminalizing sex workers; however, the amount of girls being groomed by the internet into creating OnlyFans accounts as soon as they reach the legal age is a cause for concern. Even more concerning is the men buying this content. Rapper and influencer Danielle Bregoli, most commonly known by her stage name Bhad Bhabie, made an OnlyFans just two weeks after her eighteenth birthday and made $1,030,703.43 in six hours. Why are men so eager to consume pedophiliac content? Beauty standards for women and how we are portrayed in the media are directly correlated to pedophilia. Women are expected to be hairless, wrinkle free, petite, etc.–like children. By encouraging this “sex positivity” without demolishing the patriarchy, the notion of girl-boss feminism contintues to harm women.

Girlbossism does not seek liberation and is instead the reactionary byproduct of existing patriarchal values. It centers around male opinions. Women are considered promiscuous and airheads, so we will be bimbos for our enjoyment! Women are drama filled and hate each other, so it’s girls support girls! Women are expected to look a certain way, so it’s pretty b**ches do this, and we are all hot! A quick glance and these statements seem fine and encouraging. On the surface, they aren’t inherently bad. However, it does not take into consideration that men do not care that you do it in the name of feminism, it still plays into the male gaze and fantasy of women being promiscuous, dumb, sexual objects. There’s nothing wrong with being a bimbo; it just isn’t liberating. It fails to consider why the patriarchy perpetuates this stereotype or seeks to eradicate the dehumanization of women.

Additionally, supporting girls tends to be an excuse for critiquing other women. For example, white Liberals tend to praise Vice President Kamala Harris. It is great progress that a woman of color made it into the position, but V.P. Harris has a history of being “Top Cop” in a justice system built to oppress people of color. Quite frankly, not all women can be trusted. Many of the women who consider themselves allies date racist, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic men, priding themselves on being able to change them or even have racist girl friends. Women of color cannot just switch off being a woman of color when they want to, but white feminists cherry pick when to be an “ally,” often regarding their own self image over human rights. Because the patriarchy is still intact, there are unfortunately a lot of women with internalized misogyny. In fact, many sex traffickers are women, deliberately sent out to prey on other women. Women are trying to trust and help out each other, only for some to prioritize male profit, especially considering Black women are the most targeted victims of sex trafficking.

Lastly, it turns beauty into a competition that women of color cannot ever win. Who do we see at the faces of activism? Conventionally attractive white women. They do not acknowledge their pretty privilege which is fueled by Eurocentric beauty standards, which is inherently rooted in white supremacy. Women’s self worth from a beauty standpoint is derived from how desirable they are to men. Thus, whatever beauty standard is trending feeds back into the male gaze. As women try to mimic and follow beauty trends instead of accepting themselves, the standard for men still remains low while they profit off our insecurities. When white women start to “decide” that ethnic features are beautiful, they disregard the years of trauma and struggle with self acceptance that women of color face. It doesn’t create more diversity in the media, but it is even weaponized against women of color who get accused of trying to look too hard like “Kylie Jenner,” who bought her big lips, thick brows, and curvaceous features. Girlbossism does not care that men will consistently pick white women over women of color because it does not include us. In fact, this overemphasis of specific ethnic features breeds fetishization that harm women of color rather than bringing self love. Overall, girlbossism ignores that there should not be such a large emphasis on physical beauty regardless because only men and corporations benefit from it. As a result, it only pits women against each other, rather than focusing on the real sources of the issue.

It’s easy to blindly agree with “progressive ideology,” but it is just as easy to miss the entire point of feminism and dismantling the patriarchy. Best put by TikTok influencer Serena Shahidi, or glamdemon2004, girlbossism was “never about liberating or protecting women, it’s always about their egos.”

– Tia Nguyen

Cover Photo Source: Refinery29