Gendered language is part of our psyche from the very second we are born. Immediately, children are categorised as either pink or blue. And now it has spread to the designation of our careers; you are either a #Girlboss or simply a boss.
More and more, the term #Girlboss is used as a description of the ideal feminine life. It is used within consumerism on sportswear, lunchboxes and phone cases. It has been used on Instagram over 12 million times to describe women bossing the gym, bossing home-cooking, or bossing their look for that night’s party.
As more millennials and women within Generation Y seek creative careers outside of the standard nine-to-five job, the hashtag has become synonymous with women going out on their own. But according to Urban Dictionary, the term #Girlboss focuses primarily on female YouTubers and influencers contacting brands in order to get free products to review. Not necessarily founders of massive corporations or small businesses, which the term was originally supposed to give voice too.
The term #Girlboss was conceived and trademarked by Sophia Amorusso. In her book #Girlboss, and later Netflix Original series, Amorusso describes going from being a college drop-out to an international success as the founder of clothing brand Nasty Gal. In 2014, from her own words and the words of other “girl bosses” within her book, Amorusso offered women an example of what being a #Girlboss was. But now the term has been consumerised, watered down and proven to be a non-feminist ideal.
#Girlboss infantilises women. Maybe it is passable for me to be called a #Girlboss now, at the age of 23, but would a woman over 35 really want to be classified as a #Girlboss? Imagine putting the term #Girlboss as the name on your office door, over the term Director or CEO. It is childish, simplified and sexist - just as using the terms #BossBabe and #ChickInCharge would be.
Gendered language is not feminist or empowering. It is horrifying that young women preparing to enter the world of work in years to come could be met with career advice on “How to be a #Girlboss”. The term suggests that either they have to be a #Girlboss or not be a boss at all.
We don’t see the term #Guyboss - also non-feminist - used as much, it only has 3,075 uses on Instagram. And surely we wouldn’t support the term #Guyboss in the same way that we support the term #Girlboss either.
Men, in the past, were considered the breadwinners dominating senior management, they did not need to be #Guybosses. But by deeming female bosses as #Girlbosses, it is actually keeping women within an infantalised, non-feminist box, stopping them from attaining the positions that they should now, in theory, be able to reach as easily as men.
The obvious point to make is women CEOs, directors, and those simply at the top of their fields, are not declaring themselves #Girlbosses. I have never heard Beyonce call herself a #Girlboss, or Theresa May, or Mary Beard, or Emma Thompson, or The Queen of England.
This is why I will no longer use the term #Girlboss in my life. I don’t want to be seen as a girl boss. I want to be a seen as a successful person in my own right, and that is inspiring enough to help me boss my career, whether I’m a girl or not.