Breaking the Stereotype of “Like a Girl”

What does it mean to do something “like a girl”? In a video released in 2014 by the company Always, multiple people proved that doing something “like a girl” had a different connotation than solely doing the action without any gendered lens. For instance, fighting “like a girl” meant using weak, flailing arms. The main point of this video represents the keyword “gender” as simply a person’s biological sex, whereas Little Women represents gender as a set of rules that need to be followed. In her Keywords essay, Erica Hateley claims that “specific constructions of gender…allow or disallow certain behaviors or experiences on the basis of biological sex; and dictate a specific vision of social relations and organizations” (86). In saying this, Hateley is referring to the very problem that this video addresses, which is the fact that society has deemed certain activities as being something purely for boys, and if a girl does it, she’s doing it in a playful, silly way. Both the video and the quote suggest that girls cannot run, fight, or throw in a strong manner. This tendency of society to create gendered activities demonstrates itself in Little Women through the character of Jo. Specifically, after catching Jo running and playing with Laurie, Meg asks, “When will you stop such romping ways?” (Alcott 153). Moments later she comments again, “What shall we do with that girl? She never will behave like a young lady” (Alcott 154). Meg’s dismissal of Jo’s typically “male” characteristics demonstrates the idea that girls were not allowed to play, run, or “romp”, but had to work on being “ladies”, and completing whatever stereotypically feminine tasks that went along with it. This limitation to what girls can and cannot do is incredibly problematic, but thankfully companies like Always are sending a message to change that. Girls can run, fight, or throw, because those activities don’t coincide with just one gender. Both boys and girls can do anything they want, and society is finally starting to see that.

8 thoughts on “Breaking the Stereotype of “Like a Girl””

  1. I love this ad! I saw it a few months ago and thought it was brilliant. Cassandra, what a great idea! This video represents girl’s views of themselves as young persons of the world and older occupants of the world. I want to argue that being a lady doesn’t have to fit this cookie cutter mold society wants us all to be. A girl can be tall, short, large, small, freckly, spotless, short hair, long hair, nerdy, sporty, sexy, quiet, loud, energetic, competitive, imaginative, creative or what-have-you. Society wants a girl to be skinny (not thin), above average height, gorgeous and passive. Like Cassandra so eloquently said “This limitation to what girls can and cannot do is incredibly problematic, but thankfully companies like Always are sending a message to change that. Girls can run, fight, or throw, because those activities don’t coincide with just one gender. Both boys and girls can do anything they want, and society is finally starting to see that”. This is a brilliant remark because its true, we (as persons of this society) CAN change this. Girls can earn honors, run races, discover new things and feel free to be who we are.

  2. When I first saw this video a couple of years ago it really struck me. The fact that boys and girls are both taught that girls cannot do things in the same way that boys can, makes girls believe that boys are in some way superior. Children and teens are criticized for almost everything they do. They should not have to worry about being made fun of for simply being themselves.

  3. This video reminds me of instances when a male is getting emotional about something and I have heard someone say something like “jeez you’re acting like such a girl” or “stop acting like a girl”. I agree that comments and generalizations like this can be very offensive and proves that society is making gendered activities and characteristics. I notice that comments like this are still pretty common in society today, but with time hopefully that can change.

  4. Great ad, I think it sends out a really important message. This commercial shows that during puberty, girls start to think that they cannot be strong, fit, or athletic. Moreover, anything that they do is deemed weak. This is a problem. Girls need to believe that they can be fit, muscular, intelligent, etc. and are not limited in these areas because of their gender. I think that this also adds in with the keyword “tomboy”, because if a girl is deemed athletic at a young age, she is referred to as a “tomboy.” This leads into a major question: why do girls need to be referred to as a different gender when they are athletic or outdoorsy?

  5. For me, when watching this video, the most salient part is the fact that as girls grow up, they learn that “like a girl” is a bad thing. The youngest girls in the video “throw like a girl” just as they would if they were simply asked to “throw.” The older the girls get, the more stereotypical their responses become when asked to do something “like a girl.” At some point, girls are told that there are certain things they are not as good at, simply for being born female. Sexism is salient in society, so it is nice to see Always bringing the issue to light, and also combating it.

  6. I think this is a very eye-opening post. People don’t realize what life-long effects they could put on someone when they say that you hit or run like a girl. Boys use this saying to make fun of each other and get the other boy to blush. Why does “Like a Girl” need to have a negative connotation? I also think “Fight like a Girl” has taken on a new meaning with cancer awareness. The term is used to boost cancer fighter’s spirits and make them feel powerful to beat cancer. I applaud whoever first used the term in this new meaning because it gives it a new powerful and positive connotation.

  7. This is a really great blog post and effective use of the Always video- great reference! I cringe at the term “like a girl” not only because I also feel like it tries to limit our capabilities, but also because every time I hear the phrase I hear some young booger- filled schoolboy sneer. And that’s just it! The term “Like a Girl” is such a childish thing to say when you think of your context. It is the 21st century and girls are competing and performing in different fields ranging from UFC, Hollywood empires, head of the Fed, and a widely talked about presidential candidate. If anything when people say “like a girl,” they’re basically acting like a girl, and should really man up to face reality that girls are taking over like they should.

  8. I also love this video! I believe I first saw it in my health class when it came out a few years back. What most struck me was when I heard the expression “like a girl” I was also expecting to see a weak and pathetic attempt to perform whatever task that was being asked, even though doing something “like a girl” refers to the gender that I identify with! I’m so happy you shared this video for our reflection and I think the tie you made with Jo in “Little Women” ties in flawlessly and is very representative of the time period. In today’s world, Jo’s mannerisms would be more widely accepted. I think that in 2016, it is time to remove the phrase “like a girl” from our selection of derogatory terms and to reserve it for positive instances that shed light on the aspect of being a girl, rather than degrade it.

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