Individual Success is Not Liberation A Critique of #GIRLBOSS and Neoliberal Feminisms

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First coined by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso in her 2014 book #GIRLBOSS, the term #GIRLBOSS has achieved widespread recognition and popularity. In the present day, it is associated with a particular brand of feminism. This #GIRLBOSS feminism posits that empowerment for women lies in the achievement of professional success. Rather than critically examining and attempting to dismantle oppressive and exploitative systems such as capitalism, #GIRLBOSS feminism focuses on helping women find ways to be successful within those systems. It is similar to neoliberal feminism, which is based on neoliberal ideas of individualism and the self as capital, and posits that gender equality will be achieved by women assimilating into masculinity in order to reach the top of the proverbial professional ladder. Both ideologies support individual women in their individual efforts to achieve success, but neither is truly liberatory because they accept without question the systems that oppress women and other marginalized groups and argue that an assimilation into masculinity is the best way to achieve equality. A truly liberatory feminism must acknowledge intersectionality and multiple marginalizations, value the possession and expression of compassion and care, and work toward the dismantling of oppressive societal systems, especially capitalism. I offer a detailed critique of both #GIRLBOSS and neoliberal feminism, arguing that they are not truly liberatory based on their glorification of work, refusal to critically examine capitalism, ignorance of intersectionality, individualism and devaluation of humanity, and devaluation of femininity. I then discuss several alternatives to #GIRLBOSS and neoliberal feminism that are more truly liberatory. 

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