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July 9, 2021

Is “Boss Babe” Feminism Upholding the Patriarchy?

It’s a day that plays over again in my mind. 

I was paying hundreds of dollars to sit in an “exclusive” room at a gorgeous rental property in uptown Phoenix, Arizona. Cute outfits, laminated workbooks, catered lunch.

If I wanted to become a “Boss Babe,” I needed to start acting like one, right? So, I did my best to dress the part, to act the part—to embody the woman I thought I wanted to become.

I was surrounded by all of these women who were well on their way to shattering the glass ceiling. Women who had built businesses from the ground up and had been celebrated for their achievements, their hard work, and their “hustle.” Women who had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in previous years. I was surrounded by “Boss Babe.” 

Was I intimidated? Abso-f*cking-lutely. 

Did I need to be? Not one bit.

I remember leaving the event and immediately sharing with my friend that I was extremely disappointed with it. I paid hundreds of dollars to be in that room because I’ve always been told to surround myself with people who will lift me up to a higher level. Unfortunately, the women in that room were not the people to do that for me, no matter how badly I wanted them to be. 

An exclusive girl’s club—one that claimed to be for all women—was not for me.

I will be the first to recognize that most of that had to do with my mindset, intimidation, and worry of not being accepted. I will never place blame on the women in that room for my lack of belonging, but the entire day helped me recognize something: who I don’t want to be (and where I don’t want to go).

Reflecting on that day has helped me realize that this whole “Boss Babe” culture—the one that wants to inspire women to “shatter the glass ceiling” and claims to want to “abolish the patriarchy”—is one of the major contributing factors to upholding said patriarchy.

Now hear me out while I explain:

Patriarchy is not just about those in power. Patriarchy is about the behaviors of those in power. Behaviors that perpetuate exclusivity of all kinds: in race, class, and ability level (just to name a few).

While we must celebrate women’s empowerment, we must also hold women accountable. If their behaviors contribute to patriarchal norms, we will continue to live in the very same world we have always lived in—a world of exploitation and exclusivity.

If we are to truly abolish the patriarchy, yes, we must allow women in places of power, but we must also change the power structure and how those involved behave within it. This power structure has been created by masculine energy to do more, create more, achieve more, and make as much money as possible at any cost—including the cost of other people’s livelihoods.

I write this not to shame any woman who has a desire to build a meaningful life for herself but to create awareness and start a conversation. “Boss Babe” feminism can get out of hand quickly. 

If you are curious as to if you may be upholding patriarchal norms in your own business, consider these questions:

>> Do I make an impressive income by charging clients unrealistic rates and paying my staff less than a sustainable wage?

>> Do I work 40+ hours a week in an attempt to “build an empire?”

>> Do I promote “hustle culture” and a “no rest” lifestyle to those I mentor?

If you are curious as to how you can change behavior and move toward a life and career that no longer upholds patriarchal norms, reflect on this:

>> How can I charge my clients reasonable rates?

>> How can I pay my support staff a living wage?

>> Instead of preaching “hustle” and “grind” culture, how can I promote rest and recovery?

>> How can I give back to my community (with time or donations), not just potential new clients?

If we as a society are ever going to abolish the patriarchy, then we must be deeply aware of our internalized thoughts and behaviors that uphold these norms.

For quite some time, the sole reason I wanted my own business was so I could make enough money—to feel free.

When I was solely focused on the money aspect, I never felt like I was doing enough. Always working, stressing, grinding, and never settling into trusting that what’s meant for me will come to me. That masculine energy—that need for control—is driven by the patriarchy.

Over time, I have come to realize that my freedom lies within me, not my income, my achievements, or whether or not I “shatter the glass ceiling.” 

Over time, I have learned that I can build a business that promotes a world of fairness and inclusivity.

It may mean I don’t make six figures this year. It may mean I sacrifice that extra vacation so my clients can feel comfortable with how much they pay for my coaching.

It may even mean that I never get to claim myself as a “Boss Babe.”

Above all else, though, it means that we can become more mindful of how we run our businesses. We can create a better world for everyone. 

And we can abolish the patriarchy—simply by refusing to participate in it.

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