The girlboss era is over, 2022 is the year of the girlunion

Already in 2022, Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of four counts of fraud, says Love Island influencer Molly-Mae comments on a podcast about how “we all have the same 24 hours in a day”, and multi-millionaire Khloe Kardashian tried to sell her daughter’s old designer clothes through her family’s own resale brand “Kloset”, and with price tags ranging from $250 to $700 per item.

Elisabeth Holmes may occupy a different world from Molly-Mae and Khloe, but all three represent a form of feminism and success that privileges individualism over collectivism; which seeks to climb the ladder of capitalism rather than dismantle or challenge it. And in their own way, each is also a scam; while Elisabeth could have met the legal definition of fraud by manipulating people with large sums of money under false pretenses, Molly-Mae and Khloe and their contemporary reality TV influencers play a similar role by selling to young women the promise of a lifestyle that, in reality, is nearly impossible to achieve. Does the fall of these high-level “girlboss” suggest that we are no longer falling for the trap?

Obviously, young women are dissatisfied with our lot. But instead of collective action and organization, the responses constantly presented to us are individualized and often wrapped in a tissue-covered, filtered, #gifted packet. Being abused at work? Start your own business. Can’t afford to buy a house? Just work a little harder. Worried about your safety when returning home at night? Have a pastel colored Instagram graphic.

It’s no surprise that disenfranchised people have turned to the sphere of influencers and girlboss for power, when long-standing avenues of access have been the domain of traditional white men for so long. But it is a form of power that benefits only those who hold it, and this at the expense of others less privileged. Critics of Molly-Mae, for example, were quick to find job offers for roles at his tanning business Filter, which offered a salary of just £17,000. And even that £17,000 salary may seem like millions on its own to the garment workers mass-producing clothing in sweatshops for fast-fashion label Pretty Little Thing, where Molly-Mae serves as creative director for a feature six-figure monthly salary.

It is this discrepancy that best highlights the lie that exists at the heart of the girlboss mindset that has dominated culture in recent years: the suggestion that there can be something different or different. only progressive in a female boss, or even that there is such a thing. like a good boss at all. In the real world, work under capitalism means an inherently unequal relationship in which your boss wants to get as much work from you for as low a cost as possible, while you just want to earn enough money to live a comfortable and work a few hours to enjoy it. It’s such a blatant and unshakable conflict of interest that no amount of hashtags, seemingly “authentic” Instagram content, or empowering slogans can alter it, no matter how much they might serve to obscure it. .

Rather than responding to these conditions by trampling on others in search of status, or striving to change the face of an inherently unequal power relationship, the only way to challenge them is collectively. As the girlbosses have risen and fallen, women across the country have worked tirelessly in their communities and in their unions to build a form of power that can truly change people’s lives and not just make pretending to do so while resolutely reinforcing the status quo. Today the medium member of the union is a woman, and the number of members increases at the same time among women and young workers. At the highest level of the labor movement, last year women were elected for the first time to lead Unison and Unite, two of the largest unions in the country. And in every country in the UK, trade union congresses are currently led by a woman.

Women’s membership in their unions and their active participation is important, as it leads to the use of collective power to organize around issues facing women. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, childminders in Northern Ireland have joined forces to successfully demand self-isolation grants and increased child support. Last year, the Unite Hospitality union launched a national campaign after Glasgow branch president Caitlin Lee was assaulted on her way home from a shift after her employer refused to pay for a taxi. And this month Tracey Scholes, Manchester bus driver and union member, was successfully restored having already lost work when buses were redesigned in a way that left her too small to drive them.

These causes and the hard organizing work that has gone into them may not be as glitzy or as glamorous as a brand partnership or CEO office plaque, but they certainly should be as ambitious. for young women navigating the world of work today. It won’t be influence or entrepreneurship that will uplift us and change our lives for the better, it will be caring and solidarity, and working together as one. If this is really the end of the era of individualized girlboss, let’s hope it gives way to collective action and the age of the young unionist woman.

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About Carl Schroeder

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