This is a post I've been wanting to write for almost a year. It's been sitting, partially completed, in my drafts for months. As much as I write about not letting fear make decisions for you, sometimes my fear gets the best of me. You see, the feminist movement is one that's been wrought with controversy for as long as it's had a name, but in recent years, some of the biggest critics have been women themselves. From Women Against Feminism to Madeleine Albright's 'special place in hell' comment, lately it's felt like the movement that was meant to empower women has caused in-fighting that hurts the very people it's meant to support. But I didn't start blogging to keep quiet about my feelings, so here it goes.
The whole 'girl boss' thing has got to go. And it's not just girl boss - it's our entire need to clarify titles, roles, and positions with gender. By inserting 'girl' or some other gendered term in front of our titles, we're not creating a dialogue of equality - we're further differentiating between men and women. What's being said, essentially, is there are bosses (men) and then there are female bosses. Why aren't there just bosses? Do men describe themselves as 'boy bosses'? Is there a difference between a man in a position of power and a woman in that same position? 'Girl boss' implies that there is. I run my own business. I am not a girl boss. I am the boss.
'Girl boss' does not empower. It divides. It differentiates. It needlessly clarifies. The word 'girl,' with its connotation of youth, serves as a way to soften and shy away from the implications of what it means to be a boss - strong, powerful, confident, a leader. Women are taught from a young age that being bossy is a bad thing, while men are encouraged to be aggressive in their ambitions. 'Girl boss,' then, is a way for women to tentatively dip a toe into the male-dominated pool, to quietly whisper, 'I'm here, but I'm not making any waves. I'm just a girl!' It is the exact opposite of everything feminism stands for.
One of the most salient examples of the scrutiny women in power face is occurring right now, in the 2016 election. Politics aside, the harsh criticism of Hillary Clinton has been mind-blowing. Where male candidates are called 'assertive,' Clinton is 'a bitch.' Where male voices are 'powerful and impassioned,' Clinton's is 'shrill.' When her fellow candidates are described as 'strategic,' Clinton is called 'calculating and secretive.' She's repeatedly referred to as 'defensive,' a trap from which there is no escape: stay silent, and she's all but agreeing; refute the claim, and she's only proving the point. This coded sexism holds Hillary Clinton - by all measures an experienced, competent, and intelligent politician - to a standard of judgement and critique that no candidate has endured before. Why? Because she's a boss with breasts.
Today, on International Women's Day, let's pledge to do away with 'girl boss.' Let's cast off the notion that 'feminism' is a dirty word meaning 'anti-men.' Let's change the dialogue about and the language we use to discuss women. Let's honor the brave pioneers who came before us and all of their hard-fought battles by creating gender balance in the workplace, at home, and in all facets of society. Let's educate females and males alike on why equality is the only way forward, the only road to a safe, empowered, inspired culture that embraces and celebrates the best ideas from the brightest leaders, no matter what body parts they possess. Let's teach women that supporting each other means accepting each woman's choice - and their right to make it - even if we wouldn't necessarily make that choice for ourselves. Let's give our women and girls the confidence to walk into a room and proudly state, 'I am the boss.'