“Girl Boss” Culture is Just Patriarchy Disguised in Pink

Emma Huggins, Staff Writer

Kamala Harris just made history as the first woman to be elected vice president in US history. The days following her success, Harris was widely celebrated by Democrats as they reposted images and videos commending her win and deeming her the coined term, “Girl Boss.” However, their quick jump to celebrate Harris in this way reveals myriad problems of modern-day feminism.

Before announcing his running mate, Joe Biden made a post on his social media that simply stated, “My vice president will be a woman.” It’s impossible not to see the tokenizing and the misogyny that lies behind this statement. When making such a general claim, Biden devalues women and the strengths that a female candidate would bring. Instead, he focuses on the advantage that having a female counterpart would give him as a political candidate. 

This so-called “Girl Boss” culture can be easily mistaken as an effort to encourage, motivate, and create a space for women in this male-dominated world. In reality, it shows the continuation of misogyny and the diminishing of female authority in the workplace. There is no male antonym of “Girl Boss,” and that’s because male power is the default. “Girl Boss,” which is inherently comparative to men’s accomplishments, exists because female success is still so unlikely that people feel the need to celebrate it. 

Women have had the opportunity to be vice presidents or presidents since the 19th century, yet it is 2020, and we have just elected our first woman into the White House. Of course, this may feel like an accomplishment worth celebrating, and there is no doubt that representation is an important part of feminism. However, the celebration feels unfitting when it seems the sole accomplishment of Harris’s win is the fact that she is a woman. Harris’s womanhood should not be the extent of her achievement, and neither should any powerful woman’s. The problem with this culture is that it convinces people, especially women, that a successful woman should be praised whether or not you agree with their perspectives, and not doing so would be anti-feminist. Consequently, feminism has been conformed to the value of individual accomplishments rather than the systemic reform that it was once created for. This type of feminism is just a bandage to the deep-rooted and complex misogyny that lies beneath it. In fact, the longer we keep up this facade of progress, the harder it will be for true reform to be accomplished.