#LikeAGirl

 

Watching the explosion of the #alsicebucketchallenge (which I’ll come back to in a blog post soon)  has made me ponder on recent social media campaigns. By far the most thought provoking for me has been #LikeAGirl which was launched by Always.

Though not a charity or technically seen as a ‘campaigning’ activity because it was launched by a feminine products brand, it is relevant, powerful and hits a incredibly raw emotional nerve.  

#likeagirl

After contrasting post-puberty females’ and males’ stereotypes associated with the phrase “Like a girl”, with younger girls’ more positive interpretations, the video dissects the socialisation of women to feel weak as a norm. Frightening and illuminating stuff.

Surely it makes you ask, is this how your sisters, daughters, nieces feel?

I think what I found most shocking about this is not only has this messaging, this misogyny, been accepted into the lexicon of society but into the thinking of women and perhaps most frighteningly, girls.

I found myself reflecting on my own use of language and though I consider myself a feminist I know that I too am guilty, occasionally of using such phrases as “You big girl!” as a teasing but undoubtedly derogatory term. I tried to comfort myself that the phrase is short hand for ‘You big girl’s blouse!’ but it is cold comfort…

I have subsequently promised myself and women everywhere never to use any such term as derogatory. I know that as a woman I have a responsibility to support, protect and champion women whenever I can. (Men too, I’m not sexist, but watch the video.) I believe that we all do.

I’m delighted that the empowering message of this video propelled it the number one most viral video the first week it was released. And that between June 26 and July 7 #LikeAGirl garnered 101,679 posts/shares. Now that’s how to do social media #LikeAGirl

I’m also delighted that it struck such an emotional chord; that many girls, women and men mention crying when they watched it. But is that enough? 

Can we all challenge ourselves to make sure we use the phrase ‘like a girl’ in an empowering, positive, encouraging and inspirational manner?

 

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One thought on “#LikeAGirl

  1. The video makes its case to a soundtrack of soft, delicate, fey, stereotypically ‘feminine’ music. The video (like all adverts these days) is very slick and professionally produced – and by a feminist too. The music was clearly chosen (and perhaps even commissioned) to deliberately provoke feelings of compassion and sympathy in the viewer by framing these (supposedly) ‘strong’ and ’empowered’ women with a soundscape evoking a sense of vulnerability, softness and femininity on a semi-subliminal level.

    That totally hypocritical and manipulative, given the video’s purported message.

    Also the women who comes on first and does most of the talking is stick-thin and very ‘girly’. She is wearing heels and stands in a ‘weak’ stance (legs crossed and feet together), both of which emphasise and exaggerate her weakness and vulnerability in a very feminine way. It’s behaviour which is designed to trigger the protective impulses of men (and everyone) in a semi-subconscious way.

    Again, how is this not hypocritical and manipulative, given the video’s purported message of female strength, equality to men and empowerment?

    The purported message of the video appears to be that girls and women are often portrayed as weak and less physically capable than men. Well, men and women ARE physically different with different strengths and weaknesses and different abilities. That is just a biological fact.

    The video even acknowledges about two thirds of the way though that ‘like a girl’ does not really work as an insult against girls because girls cannot help doing things like a girl because girls ARE girls.

    The only way ‘like a girl’ makes any sense, when directed towards a girl, is if you are implying a girl is conforming (deliberately or unconsciously) to an extreme, exaggerated stereotype of a girl and acting more ‘girly’ than she actually is. So if a girl is running weakly with her arms and legs flailing all over the place you might say “Stop running like a girl” which means, stop conforming to an exaggerated socialised stereotype of a girl and try and be more gender neutral instead.

    But….hang on a minute….. isn’t that is the exact same message being promoted by the video!??

    The feminist video director even gives the girls a second chance to demonstrate running in a more gender neutral (less socialised) way. She literally encourages these girls to stop running and throwing…… ‘like a girl’.

    Talk about cognitive dissonance!

    The video fails to even mention what the phrase means when it is directed towards boys – which is how the phrase is most often used. When directed towards boys the phrase ‘like a girl’ accuses the boy of having below average strength and prowess for a male. It is no different to saying he throws like a stick insect or like a baby – neither of which are insulting to stick insects of babies. ‘Like a girl’ also implies the boy is not attractive to the opposite sex because in general females are not attracted to males who resemble females. Again, this is not insulting or demeaning to females.

    In summary…..

    When directed at a girl the phrase ‘like a girl’ attacks the female stereotype and NOT the girl herself. It encourages the girl to break free of that stereotype and rise above her restrictive socialisation and be more gender neutral instead. The phrase “stop throwing like a girl” urges women to break free of the traditional gender role for women as weak, fragile, delicate creatures who require protection from men.

    But when directed at a boy the phrase ‘like a girl’ attacks the boy himself and REINFORCES the restrictive male stereotype of the strong, tough, physically capable, warrior, hunter and provider. The phrase attacks the boy personally for daring to fall outside of the traditional male gender role by either being too physically weak or behaving in a weak and wimpy way (or both).

    The video is a perfect example of how feminism turns everything into a festival of irrationality, narcissism, female victimhood, hypocrisy, emotional manipulation, double standards and passive aggressiveness.

    It turns a phrase which is only insulting to males on its head and falsely portrays it as an insult against females. ‘Like a girl’ is NOT an insult against females anymore than ‘try not to be so restricted by socialised expectations of womanhood’ is an insult against females.

    The entire video is promoting the message to girls that “throwing/ running ‘like a girl’ is selling yourself short”… while at the same time portraying this as an insult….. but only when non-feminists say it

    The video takes feminist double standards and cognitive dissonance to a whole new level, which is quite an achievement.

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