Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Taking back the phrase "like a girl"

When you hear the phrase like a girl, do you picture something weak and pathetic or something tough and capable? I'm willing to bet it was the former. Forgive me if this been brought up before, but that only means we still need to talk about it. Why do we still say boys throw like girls or scream like girls? Why can't they throw like themselves? If that throw happens to be weak, call it weak. The girls I know are tough and capable. They can take hard situations, curve balls and the like, and conquor them. That doesn't mean they never shed tears, but they are should not shamed if they do. The men I choose to keep around are similar. They can push their minds and bodies to the limit, pet puppies and cry if they need to and they aren't ashamed of it. Why does our society still use female association to shame weakness? 

I don't have the answer to this question, but I do feel its time to change our vocabulary.

 For a long time now I've been bothered by the gender bias in our language. For example, if a boy falls and scrapes his knee but gets up and keeps going he "took that fall like a man," meaning he didn't show any emotion or let a scrape bother him. If a girl falls and doesn't react she us likened to a tomboy or praised for not showing the emotions of pain or fear. When the girl falls, and reacts to the surprising fall by crying out or screaming in pain or fear she is said to have "screamed like a girl." If a boy falls and cries out he is also said to have "screamed like a girl." So even though both children screamed like themselves, from pain or fear, perhaps in similar pitches since they have yet to hit puberty, they are both said to scream like girls. This bothers me. This is the correlation I want to change. 

If crying out is a sign of weakness, why is weakness automatically pinned as a female characteristic? How many female athletes have gold medals? How many females have taken on hardships and physical struggles and not cried out? How many men have fears or pain but can't voice them for fear of being called weak, like a girl? 

Girls are not weak. 

Children are growing and struggling through all sorts of things that will cause them to reach their limits and call out. This continues into adulthood. Why then is asking for help or showing emotion at a shortcoming labeled as something only women experience? I know many male children who cry when upset, yet he is said to "cry like a little girl." 

Yes, I am female. My children are female. We have times of heartache and brokenness, we fall while playing, but that does not make us weak. Our bodies were built to birth other bodies which hardwires us to be physically tough. True, we may not be able to open the wide mouthed pickle jar with our small hands but that does not make us delicate.

I challenge you to check yourself. Are you using the phrase "like a girl" to chastise, embarrass or humiliate? Being female is not a cause of embarrassment or humiliation. Woman are powerful. Let's take back this phrases. Let's handle that fall like a girl: cry if you feel the need, and then get back up and keep going. Lets show the world that girls and boys have emotions and real people comfort each other without telling anyone to Man Up or take it like a champ. The true champ learns from their brokenness and keeps going, but they have to experience brokenness first. Non-champions are no different. Perhaps if we allow our boys to cry when frustrated instead of keeping pain and fear bottled inside, they won't feel the need to hit, punch, shoot or stab things when the frustrations, pain and fear become too much to keep hidden. What happens when we treat our children as simply children no matter their gender and help them find healthy ways to express their complex emotions without belittling or name calling? Being female is not a cause of belittlement. We cry. But so do males - who also come with tear ducts. 

So next time you feel like saying someone screamed like a girl, check yourself. Girls don't simper unless taught to. They also don't roar unless taught. Lets take back the phrase like a girl and make it one of power. Go conquer your dreams like a girl: meet every challenge head on, cry if it gets too much but remember to get up, leave the tears and pieces behind you, create a new perspective from that place of brokenness and keep going. 

You will do mighty things, like a girl! 


I drafted this late at night after a frustrating day of fighting for my children's right of expression without labeling and saw this video floating around Facebook. The filmmakers handle this conversation better than I ever could and its simply a tampon commercial. I am including the video to a link on a men's page due to the conversation started below the video link. Think about what the author says and share your thoughts, please?

Here's the link:

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