“You throw like a girl. You hit like a girl. You run like a girl.” — You’re weak.
This voice is echoed every day, every minute and every second throughout the universe.
Out of many commercials that were aired during the Super Bowl in 2015, the 60-second-ad, “LikeAGirl”, was outstanding.
The advertisement upstaged the crowded stadium as it has made its first appearance to advocate for women and express the perception of being “LikeAGirl” during the Super Bowl, which football is considered to be more of a masculine sport. Not only did this advertisement wow the crowd, but also the world. It wasn’t long until #LikeAGirl became a trend in Social Media.
Women posted pictures to express their pride of being #LikeAGirl, the ones that oppose gender stereotypes, the ones that contradict people’s perspective of “women aren’t as strong or as good as men”, and the ones that firmly indicates “women are just as capable as men.” Furthermore, a lot of men also took the chance to appreciate women with the #LikeAGirl.
Without any critical thinking, the comparative phrase “Like A Girl” has been commonly used as an offensive insult.
However, although it wasn’t intentionally meant to be an insult, some people find it very offensive. Most of the times, when someone acts weak or doesn’t perform well, they are being compared to a girl. Clearly here, girls are represented as weak.
In an interview with Cara Shelton, a learning facilitator at The Liger Leadership Academy, she said that she finds the phrase very condescending, belittling and critical by stating, “I have overheard parents telling their young sons to, “stop crying like a girl.”… Imagine, children hearing this phrase 50 times in different ways over the course of their childhood. What will that tell them? I should not act like a girl, I should not be a girl, girls are babies, girls are weak, girls cry, girls can’t do things the way boys can. Once this story is told over and over in a culture, it is believed as truth.” She continued by expressing how offensive she finds the phrase to be, “It sets girls up for failure before they haven’t even had an opportunity to prove themselves or understand their worth. It sets boys up for failure by believing they are better or should be stronger or incredibly different from girls. It sets parents up for failure by having different expectations for sons and daughters. It sets society up for failure because by adulthood, these ideas have already been ingrained in minds and becomes sometimes impossible to “unteach.”” She believes that these actions should be stopped since “girls are literally doing everything men have done in the past, and just as well if not better in some cases.” Cara’s last message, as an act of defiance against and endorsement for everyone out there was “The lives of girls and the abilities of girls should be celebrated not criticized.”
Despite the fact that most females find the phrase very derogatory and humiliating, another girl claimed “Someone said that I sit and walk like a girl. I think they mean I sit straight and walk quietly. I wouldn’t think that it was offensive because I think they were complimenting me.”
In the LikeAGirl ad, a range of ages were interviewed, from a child to a grown-up woman. When the lady asked the interviewee to run like a girl, the result was out of my expectation. Unsurprisingly, the grown-up women acted weakly and ran slowly. On the other hand, little girls ran as fast strong and as fast as they could. When one of the little girls was asked, “What does it mean to run like a girl”, the answer was, “it means to run as fast as you can.” From there, we analyzed that the perspective of acting LikeAGirl started to influence girls once they hit puberty. They start to feel the hefty pressure given by their own society.
Women are told directly and indirectly that they aren’t as strong, as smart or as capable as men are. However, we know that anything could be regarded in two ways, positive and negative. It is not the words that are offensive, but the objective of using the phrase is what makes people, mostly women, find it offensive.
Truth be told, women weren’t naturally born to be physically strong like men, but they are just as competent as men are. Men could be proud when they are born as a man because they are praised by society, but there’s something that makes me more proud to be a woman. Born in a society where women aren’t highly regarded and having to work hard to get recognition is what gives women pride.
Contemporary society is striving towards gender equality, but it won’t be reached unless gender equity has been achieved.
To all the women out there, where you’re told you’re a girl and you aren’t allowed to do things that men do, perform your best and prove them wrong. We’re just as good as everybody else. Your future is as shiny as sunlight or even shinier; never let words waylay you from your goals. We all are proud as a girl. I am proud to be #LikeAGirl.
Author: Chanmalika Rith