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Why “girl boss” feminism is retrogressive

“Girl boss” feminism posits that the attainment of elevated social status and the amassment of wealth are what women need to escape misogyny and patriarchal oppression. What this does is place a sense of exclusivity on rights that should be intrinsic to all women. You can not throw money at structural problems and though, truly, wealth can be a gateway out of oppression for those fortunate enough to possess it; the vast majority of women can not buy their way out of the suffering they face at the hands of the patriarchal society we live in.

Classism and elitism fuel “girl boss” feminism. How it usually goes is, certain women, by virtue of familial connections or upward scaling through achievement or marriage, begin to believe that only women of means deserve respect. When they’ve fought their way into male-dominated spaces, they start to believe that women who aren’t in their position do not deserve the respect they worked hard to earn. Women in these positions sometimes even kick the door behind them when they gain access to male-dominated spaces. I imagine it must be exhilarating to be considered worthy of regard that other women are not so, these women sometimes further exclusionary practices that prevent other women from gaining access to the power they wield. Shocking concept; every woman deserves respect regardless of financial or social status. 

Affluent women in positions of power do not symbolise progress for women as a whole. A few “fempreneurs” and “SHE-EOs” do not amount to liberation for women as a collective from the patriarchy and its trappings. It is especially harmful to laud women whose politics are exclusionary and detrimental to other women simply because of their notable achievements and powerful positions.

People worship and respect wealth and wealthy people. We constantly see people of means getting treated better than other people. This sense of exclusivity that comes with money and status drives classism and elitism and is very present through society and; unfortunately, it exists even in feminist discourse. Financial liberation and achievements are not the crux of the feminist movement and should not drive feminist discourse. Poor women deserve rights too.

The narrative that wealth can buy equality is untrue because even in these coveted spaces, sexism and misogyny are still pervasive. Women in positions of authority face additional scrutiny simply because they are women. Their firmness is deemed authoritarian and well, no amount of money can protect you from “I have your type at home” from aggrieved men. 

Aspirational feminism is retrogressive because it sells the narrative that baseline respect is meritorious and that wealth and status are needed to access it. Every woman is deserving of respect, freedom from sexist oppression and the right to self-determination regardless of their means or lack thereof. 

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