︎︎︎episode 18

Tragic Trends: Collapse of Girlboss (Part 2 The Fall) - Flaws & Claws, 2020 Reckoning, Alpha Apocalypse, FEMINI$M and RIPlease

Dec 1st, 2020

︎︎︎︎ Listen on Apple
︎︎︎︎ Listen of Spotify
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Collapse of the Girlboss ︎︎︎︎

“The feminist scammer rarely sets out to scam anyone,  She just wants to be successful, to gain the agency that men claim so easily, to have the sort of life she wants. She should be able to have that, shouldn’t she?  --Jia Tolentino writes this in her essay “The Story of a Generation in Seven Scams,” which you can find  in her book Trick Mirror.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion>>

2020 The Reckoning ︎

2020 culminated the end of Girlboss with the collapse of so many pivotal female start-up reigns as well as massive news coverage with the same copy.  

So too ended the other horrible spawns of the era SHE-E-O, Boss Babe, Mompreneur and Boss Bitch. Goooood riddance.

“Why” the end you may ask? Well, only the stepping down of 8 prominent alpha female founders over racial discrimitation and toxic workplace culture.

Amanda put together this great timeline

Feb 21:  Ty Haney>>, founder of Outdoor Voices steps down.

For a while there Outdoor Voices was like the “it brand” for cool girls to workout in, but I think that title has been taken over by Girlfriend Collective

June 8: Refinery 29 editor-in-chief and co-founder Christine Barberich>> resigns

Christene Barberich's Refinery29 played to the cool girl's ambitions and political savviness and btw Refinery 29 is basically just one big commercial at this point

June 10: Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine>> steps back to an intern role

The idea was that women should dress for themselves and not for men. The "I don't care what other people think of me" attitude struck a chord with cool girls

June 10: Ban.Do Chief Creative Officer and cofounder Jen Gotch>> resigns after leave of absence

She built the brand on an upbeat mission that fused self-care with female empowerment, a combination she has personal experience with due to a history of anxiety and bipolar 2 disorder.

June 11: The Wing CEO and co-founder Audrey Gelman>> resigns

Gelman was the ultimate cool girl, her wedding was featured in Vogue and she was in an episode of Girls

June 12: Reformation CEO and founder Yael Aflalo>> steps down

The secret to Reformation founder Yael Aflalo's success, wrote Emilia Petrarca for W Magazine, is that she "has taken her personal Los Angeles cool-girl style ... and translated it for the masses."

June 22: Sophia Amoroso steps down from Girlboss media--a business that I still don’t understand

Honorable mention:

Steph Korey>> of Away (who must be a monster person based on the exposes I read on The Verge). In addition to requiring 16-hour days from the customer experience team members and holding holiday vacation days hostage, employees were not allowed to email each other, which “created a culture of intimidation and constant surveillance.”

Miki Agrawal>> of Thinx (who among many other things, liked to touch and talk about the breasts of her employees) btw, she called herself She-E-O

Shoddy Lynn of Doll’s Kill for her tone deaf reaction to LA protests over the killing of George Floyd and siding with police - casuing a large boycott of the brand. 

How did we get here?

Simple,  2020 put all of the foolishness and shortcomings of the girlboss era in full focus:

From an Atlantic aptly titled “The Girlboss Has Left the Building,“When a country is grappling with mass death, racist state violence, and the unemployment and potential homelessness of millions of people, it becomes inescapably clear that when women center their worldview around their own office hustle, it just re-creates the power structures built by men, but with women conveniently on top.”

Let’s break it down further shall we? ︎

For profit feminism continued to become transparent. Did the Fourth Wave of feminism end with a souvenier tee? ︎    

Mean Girl Culture setting the stage for toxic workplaces - and the tinder for Callout reactionism. 

Lack of actual diversity on the team, and TBH were actually just plain racist. 

Obliviousness to privilege (both white privilege and economic privilege), which seems so tired and dated in 2020.


Girboss didn’t really change anything. If anything it just infantilized the role of a female boss and set back the work of many feminist leaders. Killing the term girlboss doesn’t stop women from being leaders, it just creates a new world in which leaders can shine without being identified by gender.

In 2017, a group of activists organized the International Women's Strike, a labor strike that took place on the same day as International Women's Day (and has for every year since). Drawing on the feminist strike movements abroad, the organizers used the event as a launchpad for "repoliticizing" a feminism that had been co-opted by brands to sell products and services. They called it a "feminism for the 99%." This is in sharp  contrast to the economic privilege of the “girlbosses”.

"We have no interest in breaking the glass ceiling while leaving the vast majority [of women] to clean up the shards," the activists wrote in their manifesto. "Far from celebrating women CEOs who occupy corner offices, we want to get rid of CEOs and corner offices."

This feminism isn't about marketing something; it centers not solely on so-called "women's issues," but it also involves workers rights, immigrants rights, antiracism and the environment.