If you say to someone that they do things “like a girl”, they are likely to take it as an insult, including the women in our society. This phrase “like a girl” communicates the idea of being weak, feeble and silly. But have we ever stopped to think why? Why do we associate women with these characteristics, when we clearly know this is not true?
Although the answer to these questions is simple, we avoid facing up to the problem and dealing with this false portrayal of women; instead we listen too much to society’s stereotype of women, burying the truth in our subconscious.
Why, you ask? It’s because phrases like this make women lack confidence.
This particularly rang true for me while watching the social experiment commissioned by the sanitary towel company Always, which was directed by artist & documentary film-maker Lauren Greenfield in May of this year. The video depicts men and women of all ages performing various actions “like a girl”. For example, one action that they are asked to perform is to “run like a girl”; in this instance, many people start flapping their hands around and shrieking in a high-pitched voice, feeding society’s construct of girls as silly and ineffectual.
It is a video, as Greenfield claims, which makes us “start out laughing but end up crying”. By the end of the experiment, we see that the participants felt as though they had ridiculed womankind and had to think twice as to why they had acted in that way when portraying the actions of girls.
I am ashamed to say that when I first watched this video, I embarrassingly conflated the way that girls actually do things – the same way that anybody would do them, just whilst happening to be female – with the stereotypical view of girls, not realizing that I was actually demonizing all girls and women by adhering to this social construct. This made me no better than those who don’t take women seriously. By the end of the video I was appalled at myself, as a young woman who is passionate about the successes of womankind, for viewing women so stereotypically.
An important message
This video was definitely an eye-opener, something that rarely happens to me; let’s just say that in this instance, I was enlightened. The video gives the phrase “like a girl” a totally different meaning, one that connotes strength and power.
Not only did I learn from this video that women should be taken seriously, but also that women should have the confidence to say “yes, I’m damn proud to be a woman”. We should avoid perpetuating the existing stereotype of women being weak, because this can make women ashamed to be female. We women are fierce and are all superheroes, and we’ve come a long way to prove that. This is all the more reason why women should have confidence in themselves to achieve great things whilst doing them “like a girl”.