Like a girl

Thursday, September 11, 2014 Permalink

I have to admit I’ve paid little attention to the #LikeAGirl campaign and associated commentary over the last couple of months.

It all seemed a bit gimmicky and I figured there was little I had to say about it.

But… I finally watched this clip the other night.

Of course the point of the video is that when young – before society, media and others can influence our beliefs and attitudes – we pretty much take things at face value.

The young girls in the clip demonstrate this.

Yeah, we’re girls… this is how we throw. Or run. No biggie.

It’s only the older children and adults who perceive #LikeAGirl to be derogatory.

I’ve been pondering over the issue ever since, wondering what my reaction would have been if I was told to ‘run like a girl’. (I possibly would have said, “F*ck off, I don’t run!”  But that’s more about my current level of fitness than me attaching any negative connotations to the phrase.)

When I originally drafted this post I went off on a tangent about gender bias. But… after further deliberation I decided I didn’t believe this to be about gender. It’s about labels. I’m reminded a bit of some posts I wrote about kids and ‘awesomeness’ years ago and my own niece’s comments about my ‘fat’ tummy.

We often say “Take it like a man.” Same thing. WTF is that supposed to mean? How do men ‘take’ things? Angrily, stoically, via interpretive dance, lying down?

I realise I’m fortunate in that it’s never occurred to me that there are ‘things’ I’m unable to do…. cos I’m a girl. I mean there’s the obvious physiological or biological stuff, but otherwise….

I grew up in a sporting family and as a teenage schoolgirl I played tennis and basketball with and against men – most of whom were bigger and stronger – but not all of them. And they definitely weren’t better. And it never occurred to me they should be. Similarly in academic or work environments, I’ve never felt less (or more) able because I’m a girl… so I carry little baggage about the label.

In the video clip one of the young girls is asked if saying “like a girl” is a bad thing.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It sounds like a bad thing. It sounds like you’re trying to humiliate someone.”

Good on her because I’m about 30 years older and I struggle with the concept. In all honesty I really don’t have a problem with throwing or running or fighting or thinking… like a girl.

Cos – duh!? I am a girl. (Well, I’m a middle-aged woman but that’s a whole different therapy session!)

In my very humble opinion, it’s only insulting when we choose to let it be; and it says more about the person delivering the line than the recipient.


Do you have any thoughts on the campaign? 
Do you think it’s about gender? Or changing society’s thinking about ‘labels’? 

Flogging my blog With Some Grace today.

* Second pic from

  • Char
    September 12, 2014

    I had similar thoughts to you because I’ve never thought that my gender was inferior. Sure, I’m not as strong as a man in my body but that never stopped me from doing what I wanted – except chin ups because I have runners’ arms.

    • Debbish
      September 12, 2014

      I totally get that. In some ways my dad (in particular) had old fashioned views about women – but on the whole my parents raised me to believe that women can be strong, smart and do anything they want. I’m very grateful for that.

  • Trish
    September 12, 2014

    Where did I read the other day that instead of saying someone is tough as balls, we should say they’re tough as vaginas. After birthing two babies, I’m gonna have to agree with that statement. Like you I didn’t watch the video for quite some time and when I did finally watch it I felt a little bit conflicted. I’m raising two little girls right now and I’m finding myself really sensitive to the things that my toddler is learning. She’ll ask me why I’m wearing make-up (which I don’t wear every day) and sometimes I have no idea what to tell her. I don’t want her to think that I’m not pretty when I’m not wearing make-up or that she needs make-up to feel pretty. We have a tough road ahead of us these days, but I hate to think that being a girl or something being girly is a negative. I do think it is more about labels than gender, though.

    • Debbish
      September 12, 2014

      Yes Trish, as I said – I initially went off into a gender rant, but changed my mind. I realised that I didn’t find it offensive – I realised others might but… ‘like a girl’ really didn’t feel like an insult to me.

  • Lydia C. Lee
    September 12, 2014

    I’m in 2 minds over this – firstly, I totally get it, and it’s wrong (and I say it). How do we break through if we let these things slide all the time. On the other hand, given all the things in the world, is it worth worrying about. We over think things and make them a bigger deal than they are. But then if my kid said ‘you’re so gay’ to someone, I’d tick him off without thinking about it, so why wouldn’t I do the same with ‘you’re blahbalh like a girl’? it’s the same insult technique, putting the gay/girl down indirectly….hmmm, interesting post. I might need to lift my game…like a girl! (see what I did there…?)

    • Debbish
      September 12, 2014

      When the ‘Like a girl’ thing came out I’d recently read a lot of commentary about people saying ‘you’re so gay’. I mentioned this to a gay friend of mine and he was like, “So? That’s a compliment surely?” I laughed but it did jolt me for a second and make me realise that I’d been the one to perceive it as an insult (along with people saying it obviously!). My friend said, “Isn’t that a good thing?” I know he was being facetious but I loved the attitude!

  • Amy@ Handbagmafia
    September 12, 2014

    Yes, it does bug me that “girl” is used as an insult or a put-down. You hear it all the time. it’s part of a wider problem with how our society views and portrays women and part of the reason I’m raising our kids to be feminists!

    • Debbish
      September 12, 2014

      I can’t even imagine how we start to raise a generation uninfluenced by society, media and others… very tough. I know I question a lot of my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes and realise I have no ‘real’ basis for them. They somehow just have appeared in my mind and heart via some sort of photosynthesis! x

  • Mandy Barbie&Beyond (@BeyondBarbi)
    September 12, 2014

    I have strong views on this as a Mum of 4 girls. I am raising them to believe that they are just as capable of doing anything that a boy can do, probably better!! I did a similar post on my blog a little while back also 🙂

    • Debbish
      September 12, 2014

      I don’t have kids but LOVED that several years ago ‘the powers that be’ introduced mixed sports for kids up to a certain age. I remember seeing girls and boys playing Aussie Rules and soccer together and thought what a wonderful thing it was. (And I do realise that – in general – there comes a point when boys can become stronger, faster etc and it is – again, in general – no longer appropriate!)

  • Pinky Poinker
    September 12, 2014

    You nailed it with “In my very humble opinion, it’s only insulting when we choose to let it be; and it says more about the person delivering the line than the recipient.”

    Although fragile minds of kids tend to take things to heart so I guess we have to be careful around girls and boys.

  • Sarah Barrett
    September 13, 2014

    This is the value in this post: “it’s only insulting when we choose to let it be; and it says more about the person delivering the line than the recipient.”

    This is what we need to all learn. When someone says anything, it is only us that takes on the judgment or insult. We need to learn to let these things go. Great post.

    • Debbish
      September 14, 2014

      Kinda like the old ‘sticks and stones’ saying! (One that’s long-forgotten for most of us!)


  • Jo Tracey
    September 15, 2014

    You nailed it. That’s all.

  • mamagrace71
    September 18, 2014

    When I lived and worked in Japan, a British girl came up to me complaining how sexist and racist the Japanese work place was, “How do you deal with being a foreign female in a Japanese office” and seriously, it hadn’t occurred to me. One of my big philosophies in life is, “It’s not an issue, unless you make it one.” Having said that, when you’re young and vulnerable, still learning and exploring what your strengths are, the saying might effect your self-confidence.
    I really love the video, actually. I got a little teary (But that’s just me. I cry, like a girl :))

    • Debbish
      September 18, 2014

      Oh yes… I had a little sook too. (Am SUCH a girl!) 🙂

I'd love to hear your thoughts