Rochester. Heart of the 585 and my hometown in Western New York. Love it, hate it, say what you want about it, but Rochester has a place deep in my heart.
That being said, it’s come to my attention recently that there’s been a surge in the phenomenon of being a “girl boss.” Stemming from the term coined by Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal and author of #Girlboss, it’s gained some popularity along with her lifestyle brand and Netflix show of the same name. The Rochester community in particular has especially taken a liking to similar phrases, and in doing so, have shown us exactly how whitewashed and classist these terms can really be when implicated into the real world.
Aside from the fact that gender based nouns completely defeat the purpose of their original intent, phrases like these are bothersome and quite frankly annoying, in that it proposes that in order to be any kind of boss, it needs to be hashtag girl boss in order to be considered successful, which is extremely uninspiring and discouraging. We are holding ourselves back as a society if we continue to ignore the actual problems faced by women today, in the workplace, such as tremendous wage inequality (which isn’t 70 cents on the dollar if you’re a woman of color, it’s even worse), sexual harassment and assault, paid family leave, and continue to promote archaic ideas that should have been old news a long time ago like “Girls can be bosses too!” Without working on the real problems to back it up. It seems that the “girl boss trend” is simply a trend which will eventually die out if it isn’t immediately transformed into something actually meaningful and productive. Having a perfect Instagram feed isn’t the pressing issue of our time that REAL girl bosses and bosses alike are thinking about. The emphasis on social responsibility within the girl boss crowd is extremely lacking and diminutive.
Roc Girl Gang is a local organization that sometimes holds events called “Becoming Boss” where local female business owners and community members meet as a fashion student with future career prospects beyond the Rochester community, I thought it would be a good idea to try and network with several local business owners. In the past, their events have been $20 and they usually run a few hours, given that their schedule works out accordingly. Their most recent event was June 24th at Good Luck Restaurant as a three hour event. But now, this being their third event, something had changed. Their tickets were now $40 each, double the price of the original ticket.
By making the event exclusive to only those who could attend the brunch & mimosas before the panel, you are thereby excluding an entire group of people out of your demographic. What about those who are too young or too broke to attend? There’s no real reason that they couldn’t have had separate tickets set up to include everyone, or just made the brunch and mimosas an optional additional purchase to the attendees upon arrival. Brunch & mimosas is never an ultimatum when it comes to decision making in event planning.
This is what white feminism looks like in my community. Roc Girl Gang decided to keep the event exclusive and make sure that the only people coming to this event were the same people, or same TYPE or people, who came to the previous two. Instead of reaching out to local community groups that help benefit women, they decided to stick with the same group of primarily white and privileged 30-something year olds who are already successful and prominent in the Rochester community and can afford to spend $40 on a three-hour brunch and discussion event.
Some positive solutions to fix Roc Girl Gang and other girl gangs alike could be to expand to a wider demographic of people by becoming more inclusive and opportunistic. Go to local high schools and colleges with the prospects of running a similar event/workshop regarding entrepreneurship. Be MENTORS. Your line of thinking shouldn’t be limited to the same group of people for each event. Promote yourself and your brand to become a community-based girl gang, not a “already successful, now let’s drink and chat about it” group. Because really, I would LOVE to support my local girl gang.
Written by Jenna Curcio