How many times have you heard the phrase: “you (insert action here) like a girl?” One time? 10 times? 50 times? Too many times to count? Even if you’ve never said this phrase before or even if you’ve never had this phrase uttered to you, I’m sure that you’ve heard it said to someone else at least once in your lifetime. I’d also be willing to bet that nine times out of ten times this phrase is used to put someone down.
I’ve heard women say it to other women…
Stacy was having problems with her boyfriend, and so she decided to ask her friend Sarah for advice. Sarah knew exactly what to say because she had witnessed her friend interact negatively with her boyfriend for months now. Sarah spewed her advice to Stacy, but Sarah’s opinions were sloughed off because her advice didn’t hold any merit because it was “totally something that a girl would say.”
I’ve heard men say it to other men…
Paul was out with a group of his male friends, and revealed that he was hurt by how his friends had been treating him as of late. It felt like they had forgotten about him because they had all been spending so much of their free time with their other friends. Just as Paul finished telling his friends about how he felt one of his friends laughed and said, “There’s no need to act like such a girl, man.”
Even though many people have been hurt by the meaning that’s behind the words “like a girl,” it’s true that sometimes this phrase and others like it may not be used with the explicit intent of hurting the person who is being accused of “acting like a girl.”
I’ve heard friends use it amongst themselves jokingly, but even in these circumstances it is still used to cast a negative light down upon the person who is at the center of that joke. They aren’t saying that their friend acts like a girl in order to build him or her up, but they are using it to bring attention to a habit or action that is less than favorable.
And even if it is said as a joke, it can still do damage to young children who do not know any better…
Let’s pretend you’re at a family gathering, a family reunion perhaps, and you’re playing a friendly baseball game with your cousins and siblings that you haven’t seen in ages. It’s your turn to pitch the ball. The sun is beating down on your head and a single bead of sweat drops down your right cheek as you wind the ball up and throw it as hard as you can towards home plate. Now even though you throw the ball with all your might, it comes up incredibly short and doesn’t even make it half way to the home plate before plummeting straight to the ground. Your siblings and all of your cousins instantly break into a fit of laughter, and of course you start to laugh too because, if you’re being honest with yourself, it was a pretty horrible pitch. As the laughter dies down you suddenly hear your big brother say (in a joking matter) that you throw like a girl. You pay it no mind because the pitch that you just threw definitely wasn’t going to win you the greatest pitch of the year award, but you also failed to realize the children around you who just witnessed this interaction between you and your brother.
Later on in the day you walk past your nieces and nephews as they are playing a game of basketball. You stop suddenly when you hear one of your nieces say to her cousin that he runs like a girl. All the other kids start to laugh, and you see your nephew crying because of the hurtful words that were just expressed to him, and so you automatically walk over to the group of kids to try and sort things out. Without hesitation you tell your niece that that’s not a nice thing to say, and she responds by saying, “but I heard daddy say the same thing to you and you didn’t get mad at him.”
Right a way you realize your mistake. While you were able to understand that your brother didn’t mean any harm to you when he said “you throw like a girl,” the kids were not able to pick up on it, and now they’ve made the association that when people don’t do something well that means that they are acting like a girl.
You tell your niece and the rest of the kids standing there that just because someone does something like a girl doesn’t mean that that’s a bad thing. In order to right your wrong, you go on to tell them that there have been women throughout all of history who have made our world a better place just by doing something like a girl.
You say that Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce runs like a girl, and she has won two gold and two silver medals in the Olympics, five gold and two silver medals in the World Championships, and one gold medal in the World Indoor Championships because of her ability to run like a girl.
You say that Lisa Leslie shoots like a girl and has won four Olympic gold medals as a result of it.
Marie Curie conducted science experiments like a girl, and she won a Nobel Prize for it.
Joan of Arc fought like a girl, and was able to lead her French troops to victory during the Battle of Orleans in 1429.
Harriet Tubman cared about injustices like a girl and was able to lead over 300 slaves to freedom as a result.
And Sandra Day O’Connor practiced law like a girl and became the first woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice because of it.
Positive thinkers, we’ve become too desensitized to the negative stigma that is associated with the words “you ___ like a girl.” When you utter these words after someone has failed to do something properly you perpetuate the negative stereotype that women are not as good as men.
If someone doesn’t do something as well as another person, positive thinker, don’t automatically equate that person’s lack of expertise as being “girl like.”
To the women reading this, I ask you, do you really want your words to demonstrate that you think less of your own sex?Instead of putting each other down, we should be trying to lift each other up. Across the world women are treated as second rate citizens to men for no other reason then the fact that they were born with two X chromosomes instead of with one X and one Y chromosome. So, we definitely shouldn’t take part in treating each other as less than men especially when it’s so easy to avoid using the phrase “you ___ like a girl,” in a negative light.
To the men out there, I ask you, do you really want to portray to your daughters, wives, sisters, cousins, friends, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts that you believe that you are superior to them just because of the simple fact that you’re a man? Instead of putting women down, show the women in your life that you believe that they are equal to you.
Positive thinkers, I challenge you to stop associating a lack of talent as being girl-like. The next time someone doesn’t perform well at something that he or she does, don’t tell that person that he or she “___ like a girl,” and whenever a girl or woman does something well try telling her that she does that action “like a girl,” so that we can make a conscious effort to let others know that doing things like a girl can be a good thing. Positive thinkers, let’s attempt to rewrite the discourse around how women are perceived in our society, and let’s make that message one of positivity!