Girlboss and Malewife meme showing the two characters from Disney's Enchanted.

Girlboss and Malewife

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Updated May 09, 2021 at 03:51AM EDT by Y F.

Added Feb 24, 2021 at 05:27AM EST by Loreil.

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About

Girlboss and Malewife are gender-specific slang terms, popular on Tumblr, describing a specific type of woman and man based on their roles. "Malewife" describes a gentle, somewhat passive man who holds a number of traits stereotypically associated with a traditional wife. "Girlboss" describes an assertive, dominant and proactive woman, holding the stereotypical traits of a "boss." The terms spiked in popularity in late 2020 leading into early 2021.

Origin

Malewife

The exact origin of the term "malewife" is unknown. The earliest known use of the term (albeit separated as "male wife") appears in a news story from a March 21st, 1868 Wisconsin newspaper in a story titled, "The Female Husband and Male Wife" about a masculine-looking woman who struggled with her gender identity, got a divorce and eventually started dressing and identifying as a man, becoming well-loved in the community and remarrying later (story shown below, click to expand).[1]



On January 9th, 2005, Victoria Mary Clarke published a story for Independent Ireland[2] titled A male wife is what modern women want, in which she explored the idea of the male wife. The word increased in use over the next decade, used to describe effeminate men both in a desirable and demeaning way (examples from Twitter shown below).



On January 18th, 2018, Cissy Harisson published the novel MaleWife: The emasculation of Walter Harrison,[14] an erotic novel about an emasculated man.

On November 27th, 2020, an anonymous Tumblr[15] user asked a user named sainthamlet: "I’m crying pls, what does malewife mean", to which they replied: "a man who is also wife <3" and added an explanation in the tags: "#tis but a gender jest! #to illustrate. mr howl movingcastle is part of the paradigm but personally patroclus is my fav malewife 🖤#hope this helps & serves simultaneously as a serious proposition!" (shown below).


Anonymous maurice (1987) I'm crying pls, what does malewife mean to a happier year a man who is also wife <3 message posted on friday, 3 months ago, with 4 notes #tis but a gender jest! #to illustrate. mr howl movingcastle is part of the paradigm but personally patroclus is my fav malewife #hope this helps & serves simultaneously as a serious proposition!

On December 14th, 2020, Urban Dictionary[3] user starstrukn defined malewife as: "A man who acts as a wife and is inferior to his #girlboss girlfriend," gaining 63 likes and becoming the top definition in two months.

The term also saw considerable use on Tumblr throughout the late 2010s, often through posts hashtagged "#girlboss."

Girlboss

The exact origin of the term "girlboss" is unknown. The popularity of the word is often attributed to the founder of the fashion brand Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, who on May 6th, 2014, published a book titled #Girlboss following the story of her brand (seen below, left). The book became a worldwide bestseller and helped launch the word into the mainstream along with the popular hashtag #girlboss. The word slowly spread across social media over the next seven years, used to define a powerful, commanding woman both desirably and demeaningly. On April 21st, 2017, a comedy series based on the book, also titled Girlboss, was released to Netflix, coinciding with a spike in searches for the term according to Google Trends (seen below, right).



On January 22nd, 2018, Urban Dictionary[4] user zippydeedoo defined the term as, "girl YouTubers and bloggers who get something for nothing by being all 'girlboss' and contacting brands for freebies," becoming the top definition in three years, however, it is highly contested and arguably biased, with a 155 to 105 like-to-dislike ratio.

Spread

On January 23rd, 2020, Tumblr[16] user bnva made a series of text posts – and later a quiz – that read: "where do you lie on the girlboss-malewife spectrum", "options are girlboss, malewife, maleboss, girlwife, and wifeboss" and "made this a quiz" with the hyperlink to the said quiz (shown below). These posts received more than 23,500 notes.


bnva where do you lie on the girlboss-malewife spectrum bnva options are girlboss, malewife, maleboss, girlwife, and wifeboss bnva made this a quiz Source: bnva 23,542 notes ...

In December 2020, the term "malewife" saw a significant spike in search interest as Tumblr users began using it along with the term "girlboss" in posts describing various characters as the "definition of malewife and girlboss." For example, on December 20th, Tumblr[7] user raghsimp posted a photo of the parents from the animated series Johnny Test, with the husband scrubbing the floor and the wife working at a desk along with the caption, "the mom and dad from johnny test were LITERALLY girlboss and malewife," garnering over 23,000 notes in roughly two months (shown below).



On December 21st, 2020, Tumblr[5] user @leori0 posted an image of manga artist Yoshihiro Togashi and his wife Naoko, writing, "we are forgetting one of the most important girlboss/malewife dynamics," garnering over 1,400 notes in roughly two months (shown below).



On December 26th, Tumblr[6] user kujojotaro made a text post titled "the ORIGINAL girlboss/malewife couple is barbie and ken," garnering over 30,000 notes in roughly two months.

On January 29th, 2021, the Tumblr[7] page yourfaveisagirlboss opened, sharing an image of a different character representing the girlboss aesthetic every day, as well as regular posts defining characters as the ideal "malewife girlboss combo" (popular examples shown below, left and right).



While the terms are the most popular on Tumblr, the comparison trend associated with them helped spread them to social media at large. For example, on March 1st, Twitter[12] user @fuburger posted an image of two chibi anime characters, the male making soup, along with the post text, "malewife behavior we love to see it," garnering over 4,000 likes in two days (shown below, left).

On the same date, Twitter[13] user @SCRUBADUB_ made a post defining the My Hero Academia ship couple IzuOcha as malewife and girlboss, garnering over 1,700 likes in a comparable span of time (shown below, right).



Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss / Manipulate, Mansplain, Malewife

On January 12th, 2021, Tumblr[8] user missnumber1111 posted, "today’s agenda: gaslight gatekeep and most importantly girlboss," garnering over 43,500 notes in a month. On that day, Twitter[9] user @CUPlDL0VE posted, "my agenda is gaslight gatekeep and #girlboss," the first instance of the phrase on Twitter. This marks the beginning of the Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss comparison trend on Twitter.

On January 13th, Tumblr[10] user a-m-e-t-h-y-s-t-r-o-s-e reblogged the post along with a photoshopped image of "Live, Laugh, Love" wall art instead reading, "Gaslight every moment, Gatekeep every day, Girlboss beyond words" (shown below). On January 18th, the image was reposted to Twitter[11] for the first time.


gaslight avery) mament gatekeep aery day girlbess beyond words

By February 2021, the trend expanded into a comparison series mimicking the one on Tumblr where given images characterize each word. The trend also expanded to show characters representing the terms "manipulate, mansplain and malewife" (examples shown below, left and right).


plaziska von karma @plazynoodles · Feb 18 ... gaslight gatekeep girlboss <3 manipulate mansplain gaslight gatekeep girlboss malewife

Girlboss x Male Wife, Girlboss x Girlboss, Male Wife x Male Wife. I See No Difference, Love Is Love

"Girlboss x Male Wife, Girlboss x Girlboss, Male Wife x Male Wife. I See No Difference, Love Is Love" is an edit of an old meme "Regular couple, Yaoi couple, Yuri couple, I see no difference, Love is Love" (shown below, left) in which the regular, yaoi and yuri couples were replaced by different combinations of girlboss and malewife couples (shown below, right).


Regular Couple Yaoi Couple I See No Difference Yuri Couple Lovè Is Love GIRLBOSS X MALEWIFE MALEWIFE X MALEWIFE Potatoodles Difference GIRLBÖSS X GIRLBOSS Love Is Love

First known instance of this meme appeared on Tumblr[17] on December 4th, 2020, when a Tumblr user under the nickname of "malewifeharuspex" made a text post that said: "girlboss/male wife.. girlboss/girlboss… male wife/male wife.. i see no difference love is love".

Then on the on December 7th, 2020, an artist[18] under the name of "🦁maxwell!🦁maxday 3/31" has posted an image that depicted this meme (shown below).


girlboss x male wife male wife x male wife ISee No Difference giriboss x girlboss Love is Love

Then on December 23rd. 2020, Tumblr[19] user under the name of shartingan posted a picture with the meme (shown below) with the caption "hello naruto nation", the post subsequently gained more than 4.800 notes.


Male Wife x Male Wife IŞee No Difference Girlboss x Male Wife. Girlboss x Girlboss Love Is Love hello naruto nation 4840 read this post

Various Examples


trish @ULTRAGLOSS girlboss and male wife 2:42 AM - 13 Dec 2020 - Twitter for iPhone

E VIA O NOV 28TH ROTGOSPELS there are only two genders. girlboss and male wife Q WITH 48,213 NOTES


Search Interest

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