Amanda R. Chapa
Goodbye Feminism, Hello #GirlBoss
Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Feminism, a fight for liberation from the socially imposed patriarchy and gender binary, has been morphed by mainstream media as a selling point for politicians, celebrities, and to appear “woke” in the public eye. This phenomena, used heavily in White Feminism, uses trends such as the #GirlBoss movement and an array of media—spanning from Amy Poehler’s 2021 film “Moxie” to social media trends companies weaponize by displaying glittery t-shirts—to demoralize and ostracize the true meaning of feminism, and stray us away from collective liberation.
To achieve “diversity”, these same companies perpetuate the standard of the ideal woman as someone who co-exists with the white, cisgender, and heterosexual man, and who (instead of fighting for justice) shows submission and strives to be his “equal”. The problem with this is that feminism, as white-washed as it is, doesn’t call for equality with men. It calls for liberation from the chains of the patriarchy and, with it, the collapse of the system itself. A system so ingrained in society that it has tried cementing the idea of gender, limiting it to just two when, in fact, gender cannot be quantified. This is seen in the way the nuclear family is modelled as the “ideal”— where a couple works under capitalism, sustains themselves just to fall under more debt or gains their wealth through oppressing others, and has children who then become cogs in a multi-faceted machine made to gain wealth for superiors and leave the working class with nothing.
The idea behind the patriarchy is to bask the head of the household—an ideal founded in the 1950’s, when the cost of living meant that the man in a family could work one regular job and still have enough to sustain his wife and children—in a light that applauds them for their work and ignores the hours of unpaid labor done by the second figure in the household or, in many cases, a figure which is manipulated and belittled by gender roles: the woman. Their job was to clean, feed, cook, and sustain a family twenty four hours a day, yet make sure their husbands were awarded with praise for work which was small in comparison to their own never-ending and extremely laborious role.
These gender roles were further reinforced throughout the boom of technology that has exceeded the late 1900’s, where a major shift in attitude towards feminism occurred: Second-Wave Feminism. Unlike the white-washed and dried out version of feminism that calibrates equality to submission, Second-Wave Feminism used the power of the media (music, platforms, and the introduction of ZINES) to spread their manifestos and quote the movement that sparked discourse behind the unequal and discriminatory platform women were given about practically everything: their bodies, their identities, and their place in a revolution. This wave—which highlighted the 1960’s through the 1980’s and was born from the inequality and fights surrounding the Civil Rights Movements—used the means of activism, literature, and an impending step forward in politics. In fact, throughout this era, the slogan “the personal is political” gained large amounts of traction. This slogan ignited what Carol Hanisch, a prominent figure calling for the realization of women’s roles in society, hoped for: a call to action for women who had been subsidized into submissive and patriarchal roles, and one that called forward the realization of sexuality, reproductive rights, and representation.
As groundbreaking as the movement was, this wave of feminism still lacked a certain propriety, and left holes that were gaping yet ignored. White feminists took the major stage in practically everything regarding the movement, taking away from the fight that radical feminists, Black and Indigenous feminists, and other individuals who were putting as much (if not more) on the line to get their voices heard. Among them were pioneers of the movement such as Audre Lorde—whose writings on Black Feminist Theory called forward the trepidation and the assault white feminism had on Black and Indigenous women—and Angela Davis—whose anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal work spearheaded the fight against injustice and who also worked to reimburse and aid communities that were targeted by police, exposed to the aftermath of the murder of two prominent radical figures, and most hurt by the fallout the U.S.'s broken "justice" system.
Fast forward two decades to the 2000’s and women everywhere see a reversal in the way they are portrayed in Western media. Instead of diversifying the outlets which were viewed most often, platforms that connected media, like movies and television, actually decreased the number of coloured women while increasing Hollywood’s whiteness. Although it was nothing new, this stayed apparent until the late 2010’s, when American politics saw another resurgence of feminism. However, this type of feminism didn’t cater to women of colour, or women at all. It instead preoccupied itself with coddling the capitalistic system we live in and ushering in the latest “feminist” trend without calling for women’s liberation. Instead, it sought to protect the white man and make specifically white women find their place, at the expense of the commodification of feminism as a whole, and resulting in the erasure of the work women had put towards liberating themselves.
At the turn of the decade, in which predominantly white women were present in politics and media, we saw the appearance of a virus so distasteful, but that still strongly stuttered the fight against the patriarchy. With glitter and block letters that said “Girl Power,” of course! This feminism, or the “Girl Boss Movement,” as many have referred to it, has become a washed up version of White Feminism and capitalism combined. It seeks equality for white men and women on a corporate level, and continues the exploitation and exuberance of minorities and marginalized groups everywhere. This is the type of activism responsible for a lack of sustenance from politicians like Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris. It enables white women in politics to make absurd, racist, and misogynistic advances, like those of Marjorie Taylor Greene, while making a mockery out of the true platform feminism stands for. These women have been platformed as saviours for all women, everywhere. Yet they disregard cries to alleviate the burdens that have been placed on marginalized communities. Instead of calling for liberation, this movement has created a physical digestion of merchandise, slogans, and media without actually helping the communities it proclaims to be fighting for. It embarrasses the true fight for justice, and instead elevates platforms that seek no change and uphold systems of oppression. They’ve been used to “diversify” media outlets and act as a buffer for major companies to keep exploiting others. For these companies know that (as long as the image of a happy, satiated, diverse consumer stays intact) consumerism and capitalism will continue to prosper. And, all the while, the livelihoods of marginalized communities continue to suffer.
Feminism, as warped as it has been over the run of the past era, calls for one thing: freedom from the patriarchy and gender-binary themselves. This means fighting for marginalized communities who have suffered the effects of systemic racism, misogyny, and injustice at the hands of the white man. Feminism today, whether it’s radical feminism or simply a fight against injustice, isn’t a call of equality. It never has been. It is a call for liberation.