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Girl Boss: Poor timing, straw feminism, but please stop being sexist when you’re reviewing it – you’re not fucking help­ing

Girl Boss – it didn’t blow my mind, but it occasionally boiled my blood

 

Alright.

 

I’m doing it.

 

I’m reviewing Girl Boss.

 

A show with so much hatred spewing at it, but half of the time it’s for the wrong reasons.

 

The next time I have to read an article where half the vitriol is based on the fact that Sophia acts like a girl, or wears things that are too short, or talks annoyingly, I’m going to fucking die.

 

Because there are plenty of things wrong with Girl Boss.

 

Shit tonnes in fact.

 

But as soon as you start using sexist, stereotyped terms to describe the main character, your review becomes as bad as the show itself.

 

Maybe worse but with a lot less exposure.girl boss netflix review sophia marlowe on her laptop

 

I get it. Sophia is such a millennial, but guess what?

 

That’s not her fucking issue.

 

Selfies, a love for money, and a hatred of the 40 hour working week are not Sophia’s issue.

 

Feistiness, low cut pants, and an obsession with The O.C. are not Sophia’s issue.

 

Hell, Sophia’s complete lack of social tact and empathy aren’t Sophia’s issue.

 

Sophia’s real issue is her apparent attempts to be an icon of feminism and girl power, while continuously pushing down real feminism and making a mockery of truly important power structures and harmful cultural thought.

 

And no, it’s not because she’s a bitch.

 

Her unlikeability is irksome, and makes her a questionable character who you almost never want to root for (at least for the first 10 episodes) – but that doesn’t make her anti-feminist.

 

A-la Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, we are seeing more and more feminist narratives that are working to break down the stereotypes that women are inherently good, and the ideas that they can’t do horrible things such as murder – or in Sophia’s case, petty theft, emotional detachment, and self-absorption. While these are often difficult pieces to consume, and many, many people argue that they aren’t feminist, I believe that we are at the point in feminist discourse where we can insert conversations about female monsters into our mainstream literature.

 

Do I truly believe that’s what Sophia’s characterisation does, or intends to do?

 

Not entirely.

 

But I will argue until the end of the Earth that that isn’t what makes this show anti-feminist.

 

If you’ve heard of Straw Feminism you’ll know where I’m going with this.

 

The Wikipedia version is this:

 

Straw feminism is a straw man argument whereby exaggerated or fabricated elements of feminism are used in an attempt to refute and / or derail feminist arguments. A Straw Feminist then is a fabricated character used by those arguing against feminism to devalue and derail feminist arguments.

 

But if you want a real description, with some fantastic examples, I 100% recommend you watch the Feminist Frequency video on this.

 

In fact I recommend you watch all of their Tropes vs Women series.

 

The long and short is that Straw Feminism is often used as a tool to make the main character look like the real fighter for equality. It makes feminism look crazy, deranged, and completely illogical, and the main character look sensible, essentially ignoring what real feminism looks like.

 

This became most obvious to me as a trope in Girl Boss when they pulled out the character ‘Crusty’ – affectionately named by Sophia’s not-boyfriend.

 

Crusty – because I have no other name for her – embodies Straw Feminism. She yells pointless, unprovoked hatred at Shane, calling him the problem, for seemingly nothing and everything.girl boss netflix crusty straw feminism

 

And might I add, she only stops when Sophia shoves a burrito in her mouth.

 

Now, ignoring the fact that Crusty clearly sounds homeless (she talks about bankruptcy, abandonment, isolation in ways that describe an unfortunate financial situation), I’ve seen too many memes describing woman as only angry when they’re hungry.

 

Y’know. Your girlfriend doesn’t have any real, substantial issues with your behaviour. She just needs a fucking burrito.

 

It’s like, guys know they can’t say “are you on your period?” anymore, so they’ve just replaced it with “are you hungry?”

 

It’s not the biggest improvement.

 

This Straw Feminism continues throughout the show in much less insidious and obvious ways, but the theme remains.

 

Sophia is a logical, realistic, and non-crazy feminist form of consumable girl power.

 

She’s feisty, bitchy, and literally the worst – but hey, at least she’s not a feminist!

 

And usually, while this is harmful thinking, I often don’t write entire thinkpieces on it.

 

But this show is titled ‘Girl Boss’.

 

It’s essentially hijacking the feminist movement, while simultaneously belittling it.

 

It is, of course, also the whitest show I’ve seen in a while.

 

Sophia often partakes in petty theft, as well as obscene public behaviour, occasionally causing her to brush with the law.

 

But does this stop her? Of course not! Most of it is just fun, laughable hijinks to be enjoyed for years to come.

 

These scenes consistently ignore the realities of what the results would be if someone who wasn’t a pretty white girl did what Sophia does. While I feel this doesn’t do as direct harm as the Straw Feminism does in this show, it’s still an aspect which not only unsettles me, but also places Girl Boss in the seeming continuous rise in white feminism.

 

But don’t worry! Feminism is bad kids! Don’t be like Crusty!

 

From there, while the narrative wore thin, the humour fell short, and there wasn’t nearly as much thrifting and outfit montages as I’d hoped, the only real other issue with Girl Boss was its timing.

 

Everything else aside, it’s great to celebrate stories of womens business successes – particularly in fashion retail, an industry dominated by men but aimed at consumption for women.

 

Yes, Sophia is problematic as hell, but seeing the stories where a woman fights tooth and nail for business ownership can nonetheless pave the way for better stories to come.

 

But the timing of Girl Boss can’t be ignored.

 

Under a near swamp of legal fights around pregnant women being fired, poor working conditions and pay, and of course – Nasty Gal filing for bankruptcy – it’s difficult to watch Girl Boss for what it’s intended to be; the gritty, unglamorous-but-still-glamorous rise of a female boss who builds an impressive empire.

 

One can only wonder what might feature in the next season should it be renewed.

 

I for one, hope that they approach these topics of the failings – the show needs a little realism and grounding injected into it.

 

So after 1000 words, you probably think I hate this show.

 

I highkey do. But lowkey, I’m a sucker for pop music, throwbacks, amazing outfits, and thrifting.

 

And, if you’re wondering, the final 3 episodes are actually pretty damn decent.

 

So no, it’s not my favourite show, but I’d still watch the second season.

 

Just please, give me some makeover montages, and some more amazing red flared pants.

 

Please.

 

Oh, and less fucking fake feminist agendas of the white variety please.

 

 

Xoxo, Bossy Girl

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