For the past 50 years, women have made great progress in the workforce and have gone to college in record numbers.

Editor’s Note: Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York and author of the book “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind.” Follow her on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely her own. View more opinion on CNN.

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First there was the Girlboss (the #LeaningIn ambition monster). Then there was the Girl Dinner (a lil’ plate of snacks). Now, according to The Wall Street Journal and others, there is the “Lazy-Girl Job”: an easy, enjoyable and unnecessary super-well-paid gig that frees up more of a woman’s time to live the rest of her life. This is, apparently, “the career goal of the moment.”

Jill Filipovic

It’s not. It’s just the latest in a girl-centric hashtag trend.

Most of these trends do reflect the choices of some women. But there are millions of women and girls in the US. And the vast majority are not, in fact, shaping our lives and career goals around a TikTok trend.

Here is the boring truth: There is no unified theory of Girlhood. Girls (and women) can be, and are, a lot of things. Some of us are ambitious strivers. Some of us want to work to live, not live to work. Some of us want to eat cold cuts for dinner and some of us make elaborate meals and some of us do both, just on different nights. Some of us are deeply ambitious at certain points in our lives, and then more focused on life outside of work at others.

The hashtag trend of the week doesn’t actually tell us much of anything about what women want. But the fact that these trend obsessions are so focused on women (or the infantilized “girls”) does tell us something about our deep cultural anxieties about women and work (especially because, as even the Wall Street Journal will tell you, men are experiencing them as well).

From the 1970s to the present, women have made progress entering the workforce. We’ve gone to college in record numbers, taken on paid work and gained greater independence than at any point in history.

In 2020, female payroll workers in the US crossed an important threshold and outnumbered male ones. Covid put a huge dent in these gains. But women have rebounded: According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 77.8% of prime-working-age women were in the labor force this past June, a record high.

Despite many decades of women working, many Americans still don’t seem to know quite how to feel about it.  A Pew Research Center survey from 2016 found that most Americans say it’s better if one parent stays home with the children — and in the overwhelming majority of families where one parent stays home either full or part-time, that parent is mom, not dad.

As women have surged into the workforce, some men have stagnated: Since the 1960s, men’s labor force participation has declined; so has the share of men enrolling in college. Working-class Americans have struggled with rising unemployment, substance abuse, poor health and the related early deaths, issues that have impacted working-class White men in particular. But many of those same men are also not taking jobs in growing sectors like health care and education — in part because these jobs don’t tend to pay as well as the manufacturing jobs that have disappeared, and in part because, since these jobs tend to be female-dominated, many men seem to believe working in them would be an intolerable affront to their masculinity.

Even though a smaller proportion of men are working now than were in the decades past, there is still a widespread assumption that men work, and that being a financial provider is a key part of being a good man; when men don’t feel they can provide financially, many of them seem to crumble.

For women, financial provision has been far less of a historical expectation. That’s one reason why the “Girlboss” moment was so potent and so polarizing: Women embracing unfettered ambition was fairly new, and, it turned out, engendered a massive backlash.

The hostility to female ambition runs deep, partly because men have been in charge for so long. After all, the “girlboss” was also only notable because “boy-bosses” are nearly universal.

As of March 2022, there was a record number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies: 74. Out of 500. I’ll do the math for you: That means that around 85% of Fortune 500 CEOs are men.

This is all part of the cultural baggage we bring to this particular moment of media obsession over girl-trends. The girlboss was an infantilizing, demeaning term that made clear that men are simply boss-bosses, while women in charge are doing something unusual, but also need to make it cute and non-threatening.

The “lazy-girl job” is appropriately self-deprecating and rejecting of ambition (by now, the girlboss is widely hated), and therefore nonthreatening, fitting in nicely into both our post-girlboss backlash and our post-Covid reckoning with how we want to work and how we want to live our lives.

The reality is that ambition is shaped by culture, social roles and expectations, as well as by individual personality and timing. Women have greater legal and social permission to set our sights higher now than we did in decades past, and many of us are ambitious as a result.

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Women are also human, and sometimes we get burned out. A lot of jobs aren’t particularly interesting, fun or meaningful. A lot of men would likely choose to work “lazy” jobs with fewer hours and less pay if they didn’t feel the weight of the provider expectation on their shoulders. A lot of men do work jobs with fewer hours and less pay, or don’t work at all, but there’s no TikTok trend about it.

Plus, it’s summer. A lot of us would rather be at the beach than at work. That’s part of the “lazy-girl job” trend, too: A small rejection of the American culture of over-work that makes so many of us exhausted and miserable.

Ideally, our workplaces, our public policies and our culture would make space for ambition and for rest, for seasons of life when the work grind feels crucial and when one dedicates more of one’s time to everything else.

Ideally, far fewer Americans would be ground to the bone — it wouldn’t be “lazy” to work an eight-hour day, but normal; it wouldn’t be lazy to take off a summer Friday afternoon or head out on a multi-week summer holiday, but standard and paid. And ideally, we could stop treating the way women work as girly trends, and focus instead on how to make our work lives safe, fair and sustainable, so that we can have good lives away from work — for women and men alike.