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The Girlboss Mindset is a Scam

Published
Jul 27, 2020
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If this essay helps you learn something or think about marketing and inclusivity differently, please consider sending a tip. I love writing about doing marketing differently, but spending my energy this way has real repercussions for my health and business.

Thinking more about the things I talked about in

, and have come to a conclusion:

The Girlboss mindset is a scam.

That in itself is not an original thing to say. There's been a lot of amazing critique of the girlboss mindset that touches on how it's a scam.

But most of them miss part of it that I feel like is really crucial for understanding the whole dynamic...

Scams have multiple players.

Now, I love me some scam podcasts (I recommend starting with Scam Goddess and Scam-Wow).

It's a kind of true crime that's (usually) pretty free of gore, violence, and the stuff that personally eeks me out the most.

(This is also why I loved Criminal Minds, which looking back is so so disturbing, but I never had to cover my eyes if the TV showed a fist fight.)

Anyway.

Scams have multiple players, it's not as clearcut as the scammer and the scammee.

There are willing accomplices, unwilling accomplices, etc. etc. etc.

The same is true of the Girlboss Ecosystem.

A lot of commentary on it focuses on the scammer: the privileged white feminist hiding her quest for power behind girlbossing, "women supporting women," and pseudo social justice language.

(These are the CEOs that left their companies in June. 👀)

Or it focuses on the ignorant victims like MLM reps who believe that buying their products truly supports women-owned businesses more than the usually-male CEO of the company they're "multileveling" for.

I don't snark on them like other entrepreneurs often do because my stance is that they're being scammed by the larger system at play.

But then there are the people in the middle, the accomplices, whether willing or unwilling. The people that play into the system without realizing it's a scam, or even that it's there.

And the reason I know those overlooked players are there because it's where I fell into the system.

I first started getting serious about entrepreneurship in 2016, 2 years after the book that started the girlboss movement was published (still haven't finished it ¯\(ツ)/¯). I was dealing with misogynists in my career, the election cycle was already taking it's toll on me, and I was FULLY engulfed the larger Hustle Culture mindset.

I knew I was a feminist but honestly didn't know that much about politics or theory yet. That not-yet-deep-enough understanding of feminism was PERFECT for the shallowness of the girlboss movement to grab onto.

And it did.

I followed the Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brands. I bought their courses. I started my business trying to mimic their business models, language, and mindset.

But I wasn't wading in the shallow end because that's as deep as I wanted to go, I was just getting used to the water before diving in deeper.

And as I did, the problems with the FLEB mindset became clear, and I was able to get out of that space before I got too deep. I never got so inside that I couldn't see the ecosystem clearly. And that's why I feel like I can see the bigger picture but some of my friends are missing the forest for the trees.

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If this essay helped you learn something or think differently, please consider sending a tip. I love writing about doing marketing differently, but spending my energy this way has real repercussions for my health and business.