Feminist Mixtape: “BO$$” by Fifth Harmony

Although Fifth Harmony may no longer be together, the message in their hit song “BO$$” remains relevant and important. The lyrics paired with the strong brassy sound of the instrumentals make this song an anthem of empowerment for women. 

This song portrays ideas of second wave feminism, defying ideas that women must stay in the home and only be a housewife, and instead empowers women to work and get the money they deserve, demanding respect from everyone around them. This can relate to one of the most prominent works from the second wave, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, saying “She can say ‘no’ to those mass daydreams of the women’s magazines and television, ‘no’ to the depth researchers and manipulators who are trying to ruin her life” (Friedan 280). Lyrics such as “Workin’ for the money ‘cause it’s what my momma taught me So yo ass better show me some re-spect” reject stereotypes continually placed on women, similar to Friedan’s quote and the idea of second wave feminism overall.

Additionally, given the fact all five members are women of color, the song can be interpreted as a message of empowerment for all women, no matter their race or ethnicity. The lyrics repeatedly include strong Black women, saying “I’m on my Michelle Obama sh-” and “purse so heavy getting Oprah dollars,” highlighting the successes of notable women of color.

Not only are the lyrics empowering, but the music video sends a strong message of feminism and defying gender roles. Within the first ten seconds, messages such as “Find yourself. And be that,” or “Dreams don’t work unless you do,” are displayed across black screen for us to really read and understand their importance. There is also a scene of arm wrestling with the five girls against a group of men, where they all take their turn beating each man in a match. Arm wrestling has always been portrayed as a sign of strength and masculinity, I’ve noticed particularly in TV shows or media, so having all the girls beat the group of boys shows the reversed gender roles the message of the song conveys. 

Something that could have added more nuance and depth to the song is the mentioning of certain struggles or difficulties the members, or women in general, have to face. Lyrics such as “Don’t want yo compliments, use common sense,” or “I ain’t thirsting for no bae” hint at struggles women face by highlighting assumptions often made about women, but the message of the song could have been more impactful if deeper, more direct struggles women universally can relate to were included. Bringing back the fact that all of the members are women of color, while I love that they included other iconic Black women in the song, it would have been more impactful to see the members mention moments of struggle and triumph from their perspective as women of color. This would add more interest and depth, avoid repetition, and make it more relatable to women of color everywhere.

2 thoughts on “Feminist Mixtape: “BO$$” by Fifth Harmony

  1. Great analysis! I appreciate how you analyzed both the lyrics of the song and the music video. Thank you for pointing out the limitations of “Boss” Mentioning the struggles and difficulties woman face would have made this song more powerful while also raising awareness about these struggles.

  2. This is a wonderful analysis of this song. I like the connection you made to second wave feminism and The Feminine Mystique! I also like how you mentioned that if all members of color were represented and their struggles were directly addressed the song could be more meaningful and impactful.

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