Tag Archives: feminism

Book review: Sophia Amoruso, ‘#GIRLBOSS’

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Photo courtesy of Portfolio/Penguin.

Sophia Amoruso has a really impressive story. She chose hitch-hiking and shoplifting instead of college and still managed to turn her eBay shop into a multi-million dollar online business. As the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal (a well-known fashion retailer), she grew the business to its current success without ever even borrowing money. That’s amazing. I’m awed and jealous.

But her book, “#GIRLBOSS,” which purports to teach young women about succeeding in business, says a whole lot of nothing. It’s neither truly a memoir nor a self-help book. She touches on many things briefly and delves deeply into none of them. With such an interesting life story, I was expecting Sophia to give useful, thorough advice from her personal experiences, but I was super let down.

Here’s where Sophia first lost me: it’s on page 14, where she writes, “#GIRLBOSS is a feminist book, and Nasty Gal is a feminist company in the sense that I encourage you, as a girl, to be who you want and do what you want. But I’m not here calling us ‘womyn’ and blaming men for any of my struggles along the way.” She goes on to ask, “Is 2014 a new era of feminism where we don’t have to talk about it? I don’t know, but I want to pretend that it is.”

Noooo. It’s so, so exhausting to have successful women with the opportunity to reach a large audience of young people continue to perpetuate the idea that feminism is about sitting around blaming men for your struggles. Misogyny, sexism and patriarchy are real problems that exist in the world and impact so many aspects of our lives — especially in business. And Sophia really doesn’t talk about this at all in the book, despite making a clear distinction between “girlbosses” and plain ol’ “bosses” right off the bat.

Sophia goes on to touch on her pro-anarchy, anti-capitalism phase (hence the shoplifting) that has long passed, as she now specifically mentions cruising around in a Porsche wearing Prada shoes. It would have been interesting to see her write more critically on capitalism now that it’s working in her favor, or at least to have a more detailed explanation of her shift in morals. She sidesteps this topic with a measly parenthetical, writing, “I believed that capitalism was the source of all greed, inequality, and destruction in the world. I thought that big corporations were running the world (which I now know they do) and by supporting them, I was condoning their evil ways (which is true, but a girl’s gotta put gas in her car).”

In addition to a lack of detail regarding her personal philosophies, Sophia’s business advice also comes up short.

I, personally, suck at networking. This was one of the topics I was most eager to see addressed by a self-made female CEO. Sophia addresses networking in a half-page endorsement for connecting with others on LinkedIn and, on the very last page, acknowledges her father for “teaching me to negotiate like a monster” without sharing any of this negotiating expertise anywhere within the book.

I was sincerely hoping for some useful tips on making a deal or establishing business contacts or calling in a favor or drawing up a contract. Instead, Sophia devotes the majority of this chapter to giving advice on interviewing for entry-level positions like, “We can’t all be Shakespeare, but spend some time on your cover letter and have someone else look it over to make sure it reads well… Spell-check exists for a reason; use it, but don’t rely on it.” Yeah, Sophia, we know.

As evidenced by the book’s Twitter-ready title and Sophia’s tendency to directly address the readers as hashtag-girlbosses throughout, she was clearly unconcerned about the book’s longevity. It’s more of a marketing tool for her clothing business; she didn’t really care at all to give any substantial advice to women in the workplace or female business-leaders. Certainly nothing that could hold up over time or be used for reference in the future.

She did, however, provide pages upon pages of pseudo-inspirational one-liners in less than 140 characters each: “Compete with yourself, not with others. Judge yourself on what is your personal best and you’ll accomplish more than you could ever have imagined. Life stops for no one, so keep moving. Stay awake and stay alive. There’s no AutoCorrect in life — think before texting the universe.”

The paragraph just keeps going like that! What the hell is that last one even supposed to mean?

Altogether, “#GIRLBOSS” was such an overwhelming disappointment with very little to take away from it. Sophia’s remarkable accomplishments speak for themselves. She should have let them.

‘#GIRLBOSS’
Sophia Amoruso
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Genre: Nonfiction, Business
Pages: 256
Grade: D

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Live: Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour

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Miley Cyrus performs “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” with Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips at the Staples Center in February. SCREAMfmLondon

On May 6, Miley Cyrus plans to finally return to the stage, resuming her world tour in London after rescheduling an Amsterdam concert date and postponing the final leg of her US tour. The final US dates of the Bangerz Tour were pushed back until August, when Miley will perform nine additional concerts in the Eastern part of the states.

Earlier in April, Miley faced some considerable setbacks when her beloved dog died, causing her to have a pretty heartbreaking public meltdown. Shortly thereafter, the medication she was taking for a sinus infection caused a severe allergic reaction, and she had to be hospitalized for many days.

It’s a bummer to see her slowed down when the Bangerz Tour began with such incredible forward momentum.

I attended one of the first Bangerz Tour dates on Feb. 22 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. It was a truly impressive spectacle with enough costume changes, larger-than-life props and choreographed dance routines to make your head spin, really.

Anchored by Miley’s strong stage presence, her concerts are the perfect blend of both polished performance and off-the-cuff spontaneity. I was expecting some zaniness — I knew that she would enter via her trademark tongue-slide protruding from a giant projection of her own face, for example. She delivered zaniness and then some: she pretended to fellate a dancer dressed as Bill Clinton during “Party in the USA” and leaned off the stage to initiate a kiss with Katy Perry, who was in the audience, during “Adore You.”

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Protesters outside of the Bangerz Tour at the Staples Center. SCREAMfmLondon

About halfway through the concert, Miley migrated to another stage at the back of the venue, where a band was set up to play an unplugged cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, cheering and proudly clapping along from a few feet behind her. Not long after, Miley introduced Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, who approached the stage carrying large silver balloons in the shape of the words “FUCK YEAH” and dressed in a red cape, respectively.

Together, they performed an amazing cover of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” and then they decided that they were drunk enough to do it a second time — so they did. And it was awesome.

The acoustic set, the old-school country and the unexpected cover songs are great elements of the Bangerz Tour. It’s the perfect way to remind the audience that Miley Cyrus isn’t all spectacle. She’s smart.

There is no doubt in my mind that Miley’s entire rebranding has been carefully planned from the moment the very first video of her twerking in a unicorn suit went viral in March of 2013. It’s kind of genius. And it’s been executed incredibly well. And, best of all, Miley has the talent and personality to back it up.

Ultimately, I am really rooting for her. Not only do I love her ability to get under the skin of the general public, but I am impressed with her in-your-face feminism, musical talent and down-to-earth attitude on- and off-stage. Of course, there are large elements of the media she’s produced that are problematic and worthy of criticism. But I think the “Bangerz” era is an important one in the evolution of pop music, and I would love to see her continue to grow and succeed.

Outside of the venue, middle-aged men with potbellies and bucket hats smugly unfurled signs that read “SMILEY VIRUS WILL WRECK YOUR LIFE” and “SLUTS, ETC. TRUST CHRIST OR END IN HELL!” One wore a shirt proclaiming him “Holygound Security” and shouted through a megaphone at the teenage girls walking past him that they were prostitutes and whores.

Somebody’s got to stand up to those guys.