“Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss.”
“Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss,” is the new “live, laugh, love,” which has turned into a meme with negative connotations. “Live, laugh, love,” is now used, mostly by Gen Z-ers, in a joking and sarcastic manner. For example, there is a Tik Tok trend in which the creator comments on something frustrating in their life and the sound attached says “how am I supposed to live, laugh, love in these conditions.” “Gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss,” is more complicated and was created to be intentionally negative. The entire phrase is known as the “toxic G’s,” but not all of the words individually started out toxic.
“Girlboss” was originally coined by, former Nasty Gal CEO, Sophia Amoruso when she wrote her book titled #Girlboss, and it was later turned into a Netflix series. It was used in the sense of Amoruso being the female entrepreneur she was and she was finally taking some power from men who had a hold of it for so long. It was a term meant to embody empowerment and the ambitions of women; it was supposed to be a positive thing. This is similar to the “like a girl” phrase or putting the word “lady” in front of sports mascots. The intention is girls and women can do anything men can.
However, as a result, these phrases now make it seem as though all the “normal” titles and phrases, such as “boss” and “the Wildcats,” are all related to men because there isn’t a gendered adjective in front. These are titles and mascots that do not require a gender to be attached to them. This is exactly how the term “girlboss” took on a mind of its own. It became this whirlwind of a trend, but like all trends, they die. The girlboss character was almost impossible to obtain. It became completely intertwined with career success and if you were not beating out men for their positions, then you were not considered a girlboss. The title “girlboss” comes with extreme pressures and high levels of expectations for success, including stepping on and over anyone you need to reach, and exceed, those expectations. This is where the phrase became toxic. The phrase itself holds internalized sexism. Alex Abad-Santos, wrote in an article for Vox, “What set girlbosses apart from regular bosses was pinning feminism to hustle.” The issue is, the two are both able to exist simultaneously and separate.
Being a “girlboss,” or being a boss, is simply dismantling the entire idea that anyone needs to be something in order to be considered successful. Additionally, it is about not attaching gender to everything because a “female author” is just an author. Being a boss is about being able to be proud of yourself and happy wherever you are. It is being able to freely express and work in whatever profession you are in. Is every leadership role typically held by a man? Yes. But does not being in that role at this moment mean you are a failure? No. Women empowerment is not about your career, title, financial position, appearance, etc. Women empowerment is about supporting women where they are at right now.