We have all heard it.
Sometimes we might have even said it to ourselves or to somebody else mainly as a backhanded insult or to make them the brunt of jokes amongst our peers like: “You scream like a girl”; “You hit the ball like a girl” or even “You look like a girl.” Whatever the insult content was, ‘like a girl’ was the main culprit in that insult.
I get it. We see it as humorous. When I was growing up I took it lightly because being a girl myself I knew what they meant and it seemed to be a known fact: girls were weaker and not as good at things compared to boys. So, whether it referred to how you played sports or how you acted, it was not a good thing to be compared to a girl, even when you were a girl.
I don’t know, maybe because I am older or maybe because I am a feminist, but I can’t seem to accept being the brunt of jokes anymore. I can’t seem to accept that females are, in fact, the weaker gender. Women have raised kids and managed to successfully run a company; women have given birth without medication and in a month were back at work; women have worked in fields and with industrial machinery and still had the time and energy to go home and take care of those who needed them. Whatever the situation was, women have been working just as hard (or even harder) than their male counterparts.
Now, this is not another attack on one gender or another. However, I do feel that just like there still exists a discrimination against race, the discrimination against women is still an issue. The older generations need to realize that they have the power. That they can start viewing as well as speaking differently about women without it relating to women being less than the men. If they can see how important that is, open their eyes to the proven fact that women are just as strong, capable and I daresay, equal to their male counterparts, the outdated jokes and insults about being ‘like a girl’ would no longer be relevant or tolerated.
It does seem like I am taking things too personal. Well, if that is your thought: I am. And this is the reason why I feel like demoralizing women is not okay…
My family and I were driving to a restaurant and my wonderful family member whom I love dearly (I do, it’s not sarcasm) commented that my son screamed ‘like a girl’ when he got scared. I don’t know why, but it really got to me. I saw how hurt and upset my son was by that comment: he was genuinely insulted! I mean he’s nine, so of course he doesn’t want to be girly. But I felt like I needed to prove a point. So, I asked my son: “What do you think is so bad about being like a girl?” And he said: “Because I do not want to be one, mom.”
Okay, fair enough. It really wasn’t his fault for thinking that way. I wasn’t upset or anything by how he thought. Mind you, I thought of this as a conversation to sort of open his mind on how his thought processes worked. Not only that, I wanted my family member to understand where I was coming from too. Maybe he could think about what he was saying?
So, what I said to my family member was: “What makes you think that being like a girl could be so insulting?”
He was indeed bothered by my question, but he indulged me anyway by trying to explain to me what I already knew he meant: No man wanted to be compared to a girl.
So, I asked him totally unbiased: “Do you think women should be offended if in any way they were compared to a boy, like how they sounded or how they played sports?”
He was annoyed by me at this point. I knew what he was thinking. His mind was shifting toward the idea that girls didn’t want to be told they looked like a dude just as guys didn’t want to be told they looked like girls. Even though that might generally be true, all I asked him to do was to open his mind and realize that his insult was teaching my son that being compared to a female in any sort of way was demoralizing.
I reminded my family member that women are capable of doing just as much as men and sometimes more. Limitations were not specifically gender related, but more based on the individuals themselves. I told him that, “No matter what him and I were taught and how we were raised, we needed to have an open mind in order to discontinue that negative thought process.” As a result, our kids can have an open mind!
It’s like my late aunt used to say: “Thoughts turn into beliefs, beliefs into attitudes and attitudes into actions.” If we teach our kids how to think well of themselves and others, the World is already heading in the right direction.