Girlbossing too close to the sun

How contemporary feminism has evolved with the help of the pandemic and social media transparency

We're entering a new era of feminism.
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Since the eruption of the #girlboss era, I’ve seen the term emerge as a driving force for feminism and die as a meme making fun of a capitalist-propagated attempt for equality. 

Sophia Amoruso, CEO and founder of NastyGal, coined the term ‘girlboss’ in 2014. It was defined by corporate success and a righteous strive for gender equality. Amoruso consequently released #Girlboss, her novel commemorating her journey from an eBay retail shop to corporate success. 

The girlboss mentality prioritizes claiming positions of power traditionally held by men, and its mission is reinforced by female-forward companies. The movement was grounded in a hustle culture, encouraging women’s desires to break professional glass ceilings. 

However, it came with a sour flip side—a glaring ignorance towards intersectionality, ethical practices, and inclusive environments for anyone who wasn’t a white woman. 

The awe of girlbossing didn’t last long. 

In 2022, we see a different approach to feminism, one that is more genuine and raw. It’s honest and, at times, destructive. 

The pandemic has allowed us to look inwards and become more comfortable with our shortcomings.

Emerging transparency on social media has transcended the bounds of what we are used to sharing—people are becoming more real about their challenges and habits. There’s a sense of community that’s formed virtually over the confusing and nearly existential time we’re living in. 

Where the girlboss era pushed us to be poster children for capitalist feminism, wearing suits and red lipstick and adopting traditionally masculine personality traits, present-day feminism gives us room to breathe, fail, and
make mistakes.

After the girlboss era we’ve entered a niche type of feminism, wherein we’re more comfortable with self-destruction. It’s our flop era, it’s our year of rest and relaxation, it’s our Fleabag era. 

Social justice movements that have defined the last few years, like Black Lives Matter, have opened the door for equality efforts to be genuinely inclusive. This stands in stark contrast to the comfortable image of second-wave feminism, reinforced by the whitewashed girlboss mentality. 

Moreover, the climate crisis has challenged the sustainability of consumerism and resulted in a growing rejection of the fast fashion production plaguing our environment. The socially-driven image of success is exposed as a facade that comes at the exploitation of others.

By calling out inequality and unethical production practices, we are learning to be more familiar with not conforming to the capitalist mindset perpetuated by hustle culture. 

In lockdown, when we have been sitting at home and questioning when the pandemic will release its tight grip on us, it’s normal to feel a little uninspired and a lot unproductive. I know I have. 

People relishing in their flop eras online is comforting, and also serves as the antithesis to the girlboss mentality. Instead of prioritizing the CEO “boss” mentality, we’ve entered a phase of oversharing our downfalls to connect with others who are also going through a period of un-exceptionalism.  

We’re no longer ashamed of our shortcomings, and this allows us to reclaim our humanity. 

We’re breaking free from the performative expectations that have been forced down our throats since girlboss feminism erupted, and taking the time to redefine what feminism and equality means for us on a more inclusive, real level. 

As a light was cast on those who girlbossed a bit too close to the sun and teetered on the fine line of performed perfectionism, we are moving to an era of collective societal upbringing.

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