5min readCareer 09 July 2019
It's a name that is immediately confrontational, exceedingly direct, owning the ways men talk down to and infantilize women and the constant charge of "bossiness" leveled at any woman with the gall to be commanding. Girlboss has the ring of defiance, yes, but also of solidarity; it is the act of declaring that, yes, I am like other girls. I am not interested in whether you think I can hang, and you can't expect me to chuckle at your jokes about women. A girl, in short, is the boss, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
So it's a good name for Sophia Amoruso – the founder of Nasty Gal and the author of an autobiography called, in fact, #Girlboss – to use for her new social media platform. Girlboss (the website) aims to take on LinkedIn's monopoly on professional networking, but is less interested in destroying it than specializing. You see, Girlboss is LinkedIn for millennial women, and it carries with it the attitude of the almost brash rebellion its name demands. And I think it's exactly what we need.
No matter how much we may wish we lived in a meritocracy, we don't; that's not how humans are wired, and I suspect it never will be. Instead, success in almost any enterprise is as much a matter of who as what you know, which makes professional networks both vertical and horizontal critical to any career. And that often means social time apart from work. But the stock images of sucking up to the boss are a bunch of rich old men taking a young upstart golfing or a bunch of hooting, suited men at a strip club, and that communicates something vital: professional networking has historically been about membership in a boy's club. And that's something to which women simply do not have the same level of access.
So something like Girlboss excites me for the same reason I get excited about speaking at women's professional development and networking conferences; it gets around that problem by letting women meet and interact with their colleagues in a space where nobody is making them feel like their presence is a courtesy, where no one is hitting on you, where no one will assume you have a junior role to your male counterparts. It's invigorating in ways I can't readily describe, the sense of liberty of movement these spaces have. But the ad-hoc networks that result simply aren't the same; they don't offer that critical component of access.
So something like Girlboss excites me for the same reason I get excited about speaking at women's professional development and networking conferences
Social media, however, is the great leveler: everyone is a face on a screen with a keyboard, and everyone gets a say. For better or for worse, it has enabled the creation of vast networks of human beings, working for common goals and in common service – and which usually have the exact same marginalizing effect on woman as those out in meatspace, with all the requisite problems: shutting women out of conversation, denying our achievements, valuing us based on perceived sex appeal, and on and on. So the rise of a women's professional social network – if indeed it ends up being a rise – is thrilling, because it does something nobody has tried yet: giving women the ability to network as a class on a massive scale, bypassing male gatekeeping authorities entirely. To me, that feels both downright revolutionary and stultifyingly obvious. Where has this been?
Because, as has been the case for seemingly all of human history, men and women tend to exist in parallel societies, where male societies control power and money; as such, women who cross that boundary tend to be seen as, on some level, interlopers. Just look at the ongoing question of whether the United States is "ready" for a woman president, whatever the hell that means. So the creation of what I've taken to calling alternative structures for women who are operating in male-dominated spaces is fundamentally of prime importance. Consider that in 2017, women founders received only 2% of venture capital funding, a number that would certainly have been lower were it not for the existence of women-focused VC groups specifically looking for women founders to fund. That's a harsh fact to contemplate: even with such groups, we only broached 2%. That's because we're navigating unrelentingly hostile territory; we, simply put, are not welcome.
That means we have to stand together and lift each other up, and the existence of a space like Girlboss to assist with that excites me in a powerful way, because of what it may presage: an expansion of professional opportunity for women through the creation of robust, industry-spanning networks, allowing women to discover new careers, new mentors, and strategies for existing in a man's world. That's the sort of thing that's been difficult to create on anything larger than a local scale, so it's my hope that all of that is about to change, and women will finally be able to do something that's long needed doing: changing the world.
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Help! I'm Dating a Jerk!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I've been dating my boyfriend for a year. After spending some vacation time with him and realizing he is not treating me the way I like I'm wondering — what do I do? I need him to be kinder and softer to me but he says simply, "chivalry is not his thing." I believe when two people decide to be together they need to adjust to each other. I don't think or feel my boyfriend is adjusting to what's important to me. Should I try to explain to him what's important to me, accept him for what he is, or leave him as I'm just not happy and the little gestures are important to me?
- Loveless Woman
Dear Loveless Woman,I am saddened you aren't getting your needs met in your relationship. Intimacy and affection are important to sustain a healthy relationship. It's troubling that even though you have expressed your needs to your boyfriend that it's fallen on deaf ears. You need to explore, with a therapist, why you have sought out this type of relationship and why you have stayed in it, even when it's making you chronically unhappy? Your belief that couples should adjust to each other is correct to some degree. These things often include compromising and bending on things like who gets the bigger closet or where to go for dinner. However, it's a tall order to ask someone to change their personality and if your boyfriend is indeed a jerk, like you say, who refuses to acknowledge your love language or express kindness and softness, then maybe you should find a partner who will embrace you while being chivalrous.
- The Armchair Psychologist
Hi Armchair Psychologist,
Just wanted to let you know that your article was really offensive to read. Do you refer to women's genitals as: "gross," "ghasty," "smelly," or otherwise? Humans are not perfect, each of us is different and you should emphasize this. I hope that man finds a partner that will love and accept him rather than tearing him down. Which gender has a whole aisle devoted to their "special" hygiene needs? I can tell you it's not men.
Dear Male Reader,Thank you for your thoughtful feedback to my Armchair Psychologist column. My email response bounced so am writing you here. I am so sorry I offended you. It wasn't my intention. I actually meant to be sardonic and make the writer see how ridiculous she sounded for the harsh language she used to describe her date. I obviously failed at this sneer since you think I meant to be offensive. Many apologies. I'll do better. Have a wonderful day and keep writing us with your thoughts.
- Ubah, The Armchair Psychologist