Like a Girl

Recently I overheard an extremely harassed mother complain that her son was doing a particular task ‘like a girl’ and of course I had to see what he was doing so brilliantly. I mean, as we all know, girls are so amazing and wonderful that whatever he was doing was bound to be of such great talent, strength and skill that it surely warranted a nosey. Right? Wrong. The poor lad was trying unsuccessfully to work the costume dryer machine in the changing rooms after his swimming lesson. He wasn’t pressing down on the lid hard enough so it wasn’t kicking in. And this was making his mother furious. Not just because a queue was building up behind him and this was clearly upsetting him. Not just because she was in a rush, and hot and needed to get home to make dinner. Not just because a wet costume in a gym bag is really annoying and likely to make everything else wet too. Oh no. Because he was doing it ‘like a girl’. With no strength. No ability. No common sense. Like a girl?!

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I have there girls, and crucially I also have a son who I would like to grow up with respect for girls. It starts at home. Whatever he can do, they can do too. However strong he is, they are equally so. Whatever chores they have, he has them too. In our house, ‘like a girl’ is in no way an insult. It’s praise. It’s observation of a job well done. It’s… something we never say. But if we did, it would be a compliment. So I have to wonder when exactly did it become such an insult?

Not long after this incident, someone told my son that he was doing something ‘like a girl’ and I have to say that I crumpled a little. Now. Being like a girl is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it should be seen as an amazing thing. But it’s not. And what’s more, telling my son that he is somehow inferior to his gender because he is doing something ‘like a girl’ is just as bad as telling my daughters they are not as good as boys too. And on top of that, this is my son being told that he is superior to his sisters. That by behaving as a girl would behave, he is disgracing his manhood. That he should want to be a man. That he should always consider himself better.

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There is so much wrong with the phrase ‘like a girl’ that I really don’t know where to start.

Who wants to be like a girl? We all should! Girls are born with the power. Girls are born with between one and two million tiny eggs in their ovaries, ready for when they are women and able to reproduce. Girls grow into beings capable of making, carrying and delivering people for goodness sake! If that’s not incredible, I don’t know what is. Girls are not superior to boys. Boys are not superior to girls. And my children are their own people. If they do something in a particular way, then they do it in a ‘Luka way’. Not ‘like a girl’. Why do we use this phrase as an insult? Because we find girls and women and how they perform tasks to be of lower ability than boys and it has to stop.

For my son, growing up with three sisters he needs to know he is every bit as special as them, but he also needs to know he is not more special. Or superior. Or better. He is him, and they are them. And we need to let that be. He needs to know that being shy, or hesitant or sensitive is not a bad thing. And to my four year old who questioned what it means to be ‘like a girl’: it means awesome, sweetheart. 
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21 Comments

  1. April 29, 2016 / 11:44 am

    How awful, words that should not be uttered to anyone, especially a child who is learning. Whether you are a boy or a girl we are all awesome, I just don’t get this mother’s choice of words 🙁
    MissPond recently posted..Yu Alderly Edge | ReviewMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 12:45 pm

      I know! It was really sad and its a phrase that really really gets on my nerves! xx

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 1, 2016 / 11:33 am

      Yes I agree! I don’t want my son thinking he is any better just because he’s a boy. Equally I don’t want him feeling inferior to other boys either. Its so hard and the phrase is so wrong on so many levels! xx

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 1, 2016 / 11:32 am

      Yes I agree. Its one of those phrases that have been integrated into society without question and now its an everyday saying. I’m hoping my own kids will see it for what it is though! x x

  2. May 1, 2016 / 2:59 pm

    I hate it when comments like this are made its 2016 and women and men should be treated equal.
    It’s terrible to say this to a child as they are still learning and growing. I hope my son grows into a person who doesn’t think he is better than women.
    Joanna recently posted..April FavoritesMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 1, 2016 / 8:09 pm

      I hope my son doesn’t too. I’m hoping having three sisters will help! x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 1, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      Horrid isn’t it? xx

  3. May 1, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    so sad isn’t it? We need to make sure that when it is said, it is meant in a positive way. Like a girl should be a compliment, not an insult!

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 2, 2016 / 6:57 am

      Absolutely! I always tell mine that its completely awesome to be like a girl! xx

  4. May 2, 2016 / 9:49 am

    Totally agree with you and yet I still use it sometimes. I hear it coming out of my mouth before I realise and totally regret it. I am being very careful not to use it, especially as I want to empower my own daughter. She’s surround by two brothers and I want her to see that she has as many options and opportunities open to her as they have.
    Kizzy recently posted..May #TheYearInBooksMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 5, 2016 / 11:10 am

      I think we’re so used to hearing it used that it becomes second nature. It was only when I saw this boy’s face fall that I realised how awful it is! xxx

  5. May 2, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Gosh the word choice has been horrendous. It’s sad that a mum did this really. There is nothing wrong with being a girl, and why would boys have to be seen to be strong. It’s gender stereotyping on a whole new level. I believe in a positive approach. Definitely think that mother could have handled it better. A Boy should grow up to respect women, and equally a girl shouldn’t be afraid of her abilities to do great things. 🙂
    The L’s Mum recently posted..Ectopic Pregnancy – 6 Months OnMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 5, 2016 / 11:06 am

      Agreed. I’m hoping my own kids will never use the phrase, and the more we challenge it the less it’s accepted xx x

  6. May 3, 2016 / 9:28 am

    Very empowering post! I really support this message and the like a girl campaign. Your son will grow up to be so well-informed and respectful towards women 🙂
    Zoe Alicia recently posted..Intro. to Don’t RushMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 5, 2016 / 11:02 am

      Ah I hope so. Thank you! xx

  7. May 3, 2016 / 5:44 pm

    Oh bless! That is so awful 🙁 Don’t like it when other parents say things like that!
    Life as Mum recently posted..May!My Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      May 5, 2016 / 11:00 am

      I know, the poor lad was so dejected too xx

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