The term "girl boss" is making quite the comeback, the new face of the feminist movement for teenage girls and young adults. It's not entirely a new word; first popularized in 2014 by businesswoman Sophia Amoruso in her autobiography, the word has become increasingly widespread, especially through the use of hashtags in social media. However, it's gotten controversial, just like every other popular thing that ever existed, and has received flashback for "infantilising" the idea of a woman in power. As a freshly-turned 18-year old myself, I'm not one to advocate for anything that would demean the feminist movement. With that said, I think it's important that we look at the heart of the argument, the root of feminist ideals, and whether the inherent reasoning is flawed.
Believe it or not, women did have equal societal status long ago, before the Neolithic Revolution. Since they couldn't farm, humans were nomadic species that traveled in groups, chasing bison and collecting plants. Ergo, the term hunters and gatherers. Even with the separate roles, these societies were pretty egalitarian, both in status, and gender perceptions. Women were considered just as useful as men (as they should be). With the Neolithic Revolution, however, farming grounded populations to one location, with plants being the primary source of nutrition. In addition to reducing the quality of the diet, this sedentary lifestyle also led to women's role solely being the child bearers and caretakers. Obviously, this led to a general disrespect and disregard for women in general, since men-folk were then doing the "real work."
However, that wasn't the end of female empowerment until the modern era. Another civilization did their part in advancing the role of the female species. Guess who? Hint: Kappa Kappa Delta!!!
I mean, the Greeks were the ones that invented democracy, so their part in feminism shouldn't be that far-fetched. Philosopher Plato, in his classic Republic, stated that women have capacities "equal to men" to govern and defend Greece. Of course, you can expect there was significant opposition to that opinion. Nonetheless, respect for the descendants of Eve wasn't entirely unheard of, even 3000 years ago.
Fast-forward about 2500 years, and we're in the 18th century with one of the most memorable founders of the modern feminist movement: Abigail Adams. Given, we're usually taught that Adams wrote to her husband during the Constitutional Convention saying, "Don't forget the ladies." Or something of the sort. In reality, she made a powerful prediction about the future of the United States: "If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice."
And that's exactly what happened. It was a relatively slow process, but you have to keep in mind that this was a new country, still figuring itself out. Takes about 100 years to get the hand of things, form a culture. And 100 years after the Battle of Yorktown, things were still rapidly changing. Along with the Civil War and an internal struggle between the North and South, the 19th century saw the first wave of the feminist movement, with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott advocating for women's suffrage. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, before the Civil War, voiced his support for this movement as well. It's pretty cool to think about, the oppressed joining forces to claim their voice.
And it all payed off, at least legislatively. African-American men could vote with the 15th Amendment, women with the 19th in 1920. The thing is, and always has been, legislation never equals cultural change.
So of course, women entering the workplace brought its own wave of problems, with limited job opportunities and the wage gap, the latter somehow still existing today. Then came along Rosie the Riveter, the Equal Pay Act, and the hard-fought efforts of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Progress was made on many fronts, including the workplace and later sports with Title IX, as well as reproductive rights in Roe v. Wade. All in all, the 20th century was a good one for women's rights.
However, there is evidently still work to be done, the most obvious seen in the #MeToo movement and the general unreasonable power that men continue to hold above their female counterparts. And we're slowly working towards a more equal future, one where women are perceived as equal in most if not all fronts, as men.
The very fact is, however, people on all sides oppose this view. That women should be "equal to men." Why? The fact remains that this explanation, of simple equality, is very vague and misleading when it comes to the aim of the feminist movement. What exactly is equality? Is it being treated the same, viewed the same, given the exact same standards? And does this apply everywhere?
So you see, it's a bit more complicated than the simple measure of equality. When you face the facts, men and women are not equal, biologically. We have different body compositions, different strengths and weaknesses. Feminism means, that in a societal, political, and educational standpoint, in the view of us not as Homo sapiens, but as beings contributing to the well-being of our population, both men and women are just as capable and valued.
Now, let's get back to the origin of this article: what's wrong with the term "girlboss?" Sure, the word girl isn't the same as woman, so let's do girlboss for the younger generation, and ladyboss for everyone else. Now infantilizing aside, the reason this word is so great, in my humble opinion, is not in its makeup, but in its symbolism. It doesn't have to mean a powerful businesswoman lording it over her male counterparts. Let's face it, that's the mental image that pops into your head when you hear that word.
But really, the meaning of the word is the same as the basic principle of feminism: that women, no matter what they do, cannot and should not be viewed as inferior to men. Whether that is in fact presiding over an office conference room, or taking charge of a household with 3 kids and a dog. They're the caring doctors and nurses, the skillful engineers and pilots, and the capable army generals.
Each and every one of them are girlbosses. No matter what they do, they are contributing to this world the same way any man can. And sometimes, even a little better.