Crossfire: Girlboss; Slay, or Nay

Kyle Mathy and Chloe Hansen

I’m Not A Girlboss; I’m Ontologically Evil – Kyle Mathy

“Girlboss,” typically associated with the likes of Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Taylor Swift and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is normally about women in power who supposedly shattered the glass ceiling or challenged the patriarchy. This is a flawed definition and a destructive mode of thinking. Giorgia Meloni is Italy’s first female prime minister — a girlboss for sure. She is also Italy’s most right-wing leader since Mussolini. Amy Coney Barrett is also a girlboss as one of the few women in history to sit on the Supreme Court. Girlbossing, and the women who are worshipped because of it, needs to be rethought completely. Instead of deifying women in positions of power, we should worship personal liberation and personal resistance. True girlbossing is not about being Italy’s first female prime minister, paving the way for other fascist girlbosses who will reinforce the very patriarchy that fascism rests upon. It must be about resistance.

Girlbossing should be modeled on the work of Sara Ahmed, particularly the concept of willfulness. This is the process of being an actor within the patriarchy who makes their own decisions contrary to what the system desires. Being a girlboss should mean being willful. Girlbosses are those who push for liberation, and, yes, they can also be in positions of power. Being a girlboss isn’t right-wing; it’s not moderate nor is it liberal; it’s inherently left-wing. It should be a total and holistic state of resistance that strives for the deconstruction of the system of patriarchy; being a willful actor. Being resistant means being anti-system, especially any system that upholds the patriarchy. Put simply, a girlboss should reject anything that supports her.

So, down with the worshipping of women who only serve to reinforce the system that kills, dominates and suppresses women everywhere. No more “I’m with Her” bumper stickers of a candidate who actively supported anti-women measures. You, as an individual, are a girlboss every time you resist — every time you fight for your rights and genuinely pull one over on the patriarchy. Slay, girlboss, and be more like Sara Ahmed and less like Kamala Harris.

Illustration by Holly VanVoorhis.

Girlboss’s Sisyphean Inhumanity – Chloe Hansen

The term “girlboss,” while common, has never been a feminist statement. It has always been offensive. Offense, which so many women carry so silently on their shoulders, deserves to be taken loudly. Girlboss has become a term that is so buried under satire and discourse that it is often misconstrued as a compliment, though always imbued with a subtle sense of back-handedness. To be deemed a girlboss, a woman must meet certain social requirements in the public eye. Most prominently, she must be inhumanly productive. In fact, she must be a million times more productive than the “boss,” who is most likely a man. This man is deemed “boss” not for his inhuman productivity, but because he holds a position. The Beauvoirian othering present in that situation is disturbingly commonplace.

Once a woman achieves this state of productivity, her days are numbered before the venomous undertones of the title girlboss overwhelm its meaning entirely. The implication, in its most unpleasant sense, is a praise not of the true hard work that the woman might have done, but of her emulation of those male bosses who are magically imbued with “bossness.” Moreover, the use of the word “girl” rather than “woman” deprives her even of her womanhood; she is reduced to her girlhood — infantilized. 

Her race for “bossness” is often simply a byproduct of the woman attempting to obtain success in a field of her choosing — even when she is aware that she will never achieve the role of a “boss.” She will always be the infantile girlboss — forced to come to terms with the title (as many women have troublingly done over the past several years) or to be constantly vexed by it as it crops up maliciously or misguidedly in her journey towards her professional goals. Therefore, the term girlboss, regardless of the speaker’s intended implication, will always serve as a reminder of the Sisyphean journey to success that women face in our society. It deserves a swift deletion from common social jargon.