“You run like a girl!” That’s a bad thing?

You're a girl, Hermione

You’re a girl, Hermione

“You’re a girl.”

Is that a good thing or bad thing?

More than half the population are girls, or were girls. And girls can kick butt.

But some people don’t seem to think it’s such a good thing.

I was watching the movie, “Sweet November,” with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, where a little boy is taunted, “Your girl!” for making a small-ish boat.

Really, girls can make badass boats!

Or, Arnold Schwarzenegger called George H.W. Bush’s presidential opponents “a bunch of girlie men” back in ’88. 

Growing up, I heard some guys police other guys by warning, “What a woman!” And it wasn’t a compliment.

Some might say, “Well, you wouldn’t want to be something you’re not.”

But when women are told, “You the man!” It’s meant as a compliment.

Or, sissies are demeaned but tomboys are not.

You have to wonder how females could feel very good about themselves when the words that label them are also used as insults.

Now Always shoots an ad where people are asked to “Throw like a girl,” or “Run like a girl.” And they always look silly and incompetent. Until they stop and think about it.

Truth is, girls are awesome!

Check it out “Always #LikeAGirl”

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It’s Ok To Be A Tomboy But Not A Sissy. Why?
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Flip Gender, Flip Ways of Seeing

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 23, 2014, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. I love that society is beginning to realize that these “throwaway” expressions have major impact. And that women/girls are beginning to refuse to be belittled for being what they are-female.

  2. Great video

    Personally, I would take it a compliment to be called a ‘girlie man’ by the Terminator.

      • Actually, a couple of weeks ago my teenage son told me I had the same taste in music as a thirteen year old girl… I just smiled.

        When I was younger, I repressed anything feminine in my personality without realizing it or knowing that it was the result of societal indoctrination. Now, I feel fine reading ‘Martha Stewart Living’ on a flight or in a coffee shop. I shamelessly buy accent pieces for my home at Anthropologie. And, I’m ok with being the only guy in my yoga/pilates class.

        It’s really been quite liberating to move away from a patriarchal paradigm and just enjoy things in life without regards to whether I’m appearing macho or sissy or whatever… just being me!!!

      • That is so great! You are being your authentic self. And you are helping to stop demeaning things that are associated with females, at the same time.

  3. I saw the video somewhere else but it was good to be reminded of it. It was interesting how “like a girl” and “like you (who happens to be a girl)” were interpreted so differently. When I was young I used to naively think that I wasn’t subject to the same prejudices, but brainwashed people don’t realise they’ve been brainwashed, do they? It was only when I noticed that I avoided novels (mostly sci-fi/fantasy at that stage) by female authors that I realised I was just as brainwashed as everybody else.

  4. I don’t think it’s about women not being able to kick ass or not do as well as men in sports or whatever. But the expectation of men to be tough, strong, virile, which is seen as the opposite of women. If a man isn’t tough strong, etc some will call him the opposite of that, thus a feminine characteristic. It’s not good, but it’s done to insult, or knowing it will bother the guy and not because women can’t be tough , strong and so on. I understand the expectation though it sucks for men to have that pressure. But then again, men are or the majority are fighting wars, are firefighters, construction workers, and police officers, etc. Men are still seen to be the providers and protectors and leaders in society. So toughess is a big deal but with the responsiblity men have. Do you want a firefighter to be physically weak or a “sissy” when he’s running into a burning building to save you?

    TRue there are female firefighters and cops, and maybe it’s sexism. But part of me things is just as much most or many women simply not having to and not desiring to do such occupations. Afterall, there are a lot of dirty jobs, sewage, trash disposal, that doesn’t really take strength and women would be hired, but not to many women are clamoring for these dirty jobs, which I can’t blame them. I’m a guy and I rather not do the jobs and if I was a woman and knew it was something that I wouldn’t have to do or plenty of other work elsewhere I’d avoid it too. The one’s I see doing such stuff are women or girls who live on farms, she;s a strong girl too, but cute and very feminine. But as many of her there are many who aren’t interested in that work. And yes women can run and throw. But I’ve seen plenty of girls who can’t throw and get the throw like a girl thing. I think guy’s mean in reference to girls who can’t throw. But yes plenty of girls can throw as I’ve watched softball games. Though there’s maybe a top 10 or so that can really throw, the others are just alright. The fact of the matter is guy’s on average still throw farther and harder and run faster so the expectation guys put on themselve and other men is to run and throw at that level.

    • How can females feel good about themselves when the words that label them are also insults?

      That’s not true of men. I’m not aware of any word, man, boy, King, Prince, When applied to a Woman is used as an insult.

      And men shouldn’t have to feel like they have to be tough in order to be men. And women shouldn’t feel like they can’t be tough – there times when you need to be.

      Now, there are some biological differences which will make it less likely that women will qualify as firefighters, but that is different from using a term that applies to females as a way to insult men. There are also certain things women can do that men biologically can’t. And yet we don’t use any term for men as a way to insult women.

      It seems you completely missed the point.

  5. If a man punches like a girl other than say like laila ali or ronda rousey, he’s going to be in trouble if he gets in a fight with another guy or has to fight for self defense….

  6. I love challenging people with saying, “Come on and fight like a girl!”

  7. Now, there are some biological differences which will make it less likely that women will qualify as firefighters, but that is different from using a term that applies to females as a way to insult men. There are also certain things women can do that men biologically can’t. And yet we don’t use any term for men as a way to insult women.

    Most people just say pussy or sissy and don’t use woman or girl anymore. And usually its tongue in cheek meaning not serious or that they think women can’t throw, etc but just messing with the guy. I don’t say that stuff to guys when playing sports though.

  8. “How can females feel good about themselves when the words that label them are also insults?”

    It’s not good. But I was always told you don’t let others dictate your happiness and esteem. I think women are great and have high expectations for women. Ok well some women can be bad and terrible but so can men just as much, and that’s more upon the individual person. Anywhooo, if women are strong, etc, shouldn’t they be beyond and above this and not let this stuff make them feel bad? If women are equal to men which is true, should women be held the same standars and be asked to have thicker skins and not let everything bother their self esteem and be sensitive to everything? Guys though ranked higher, as a result of this have had the pressure of this.

    And boys since a young age have had to learn to have thick skins, which is not good, but becaue of bullying, boy’s with thin skins would be vulnerable and bullyed bad. Bullying needs to stop , but a person can help themselves by getting a thicker skin. Guy’s had to learn this growing up or else they would fall to all the pressures from other men and not living up to the standard of masculinity. Therefore, it’s been essential for guys or else being eaten alive. Guy’s can’t let every thing that may be insulting about them to get to them or show it, or else they let such guys and stuff win. You win when you are beyond this stuff

    • There are two ways of handling the situation and you don’t have to choose just one.

      Of course, you can develop a thicker skin.

      But society can also do its part.

      Both should be working together.

      Finally, this sort of thing works most insidiously when it is unconscious. And it is unconscious for most women. When you grow up hearing it you take it for granted and don’t stop to realize is happening and critique it. You can only choose to not let it bother you — as much as that’s possible — when you become aware of it.

      But even when you critique it and try to develop a thick skin, it can still have unconscious effects.

      Humans are hardwired to have their personal identities be socially constructed. When a person for that hearing that they are not that great, they grow up thinking they are not that great. It gets into the unconscious, Into places you don’t have a lot of control over, Even while you can wield some control.

      At the same time I’ve heard guys– And I believe you are one of them–complain about how women don’t see them as sexy. That’s because society doesn’t create the notion that men are as sexy as women. It affects how women see and how men are seen, And how men feel about themselves.

      So it’s okay for guys to complain about the things that hurt them, But women should just put up with the stuff that harms them?

  9. This is a great video, and I say we all can be proud to be girls/women!

  10. “At the same time I’ve heard guys– And I believe you are one of them–complain about how women don’t see them as sexy. That’s because society doesn’t create the notion that men are as sexy as women. It affects how women see and how men are seen, And how men feel about themselves.

    So it’s okay for guys to complain about the things that hurt them, But women should just put up with the stuff that harms them?”

    It’s insulting because when hearing that women have to be “taught” to be turned on by the male body because there isn’t enough desirableness from the male body to innately do it apparently. Clothes have to be hidden and whatever to do the job. When all a woman has to do is just have body parts covered, and not necessarily have to have them flaunted. Many guy’s do respect women and it seems more innate as it seems men’s disrespect is taught or has to be taught for men to look at women that way which is why you bring up how society conditions men and women to look at women that way.

    It wasn;t about men not being found sexy, which I know women find men sexy, its men not being visually arousing. Women simply being less visual than men is actually something better to deal with than the though that women are visual as much but men’s bodies just inadquately not sexually attractive enough or visually sexy enough to spark visual arousal.

  11. Girls are awesome indeed. They have reached the top leadership positions by shattering the myth of the glass ceiling on their own merit! The 2014 Most Powerful Women list features nine heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $11.1 trillion — including the No. 1 Power Woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The 28 corporate CEOs control $1.7 trillion in annual revenues.

    Cheers 🙂

  12. Yep, acting girly or sissy is bad, being ‘one of the boys’ is ok though, apparently!

  13. A great commercial. This is where it starts. All around the world, inequality between men and women start with how children are taught the difference between the genders. It might not solve everything, but I have to imagine people would grow up with more respect for both genders if “You’re a girl” was equal to “you the man.”

  14. Well it’s not good with how things are socialized. but I don’t know if you saw this or not, but I think you;ll like this. Positive news and nice to show more progress in society and for women. Here’s the article

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11312366/becky-hammon-hired-san-antonio-spurs

    I watch sports and ESPN so I see this stuff. I know you said you don’t really follow or care about sports, but I can explain why this is good. The Spurs just hired Becky Hammon as assistant coach for the nba team. No woman has ever been a coach or even an assitant coach in the pros or nba. She;s the first woman. There have been female coaches for division one men’s basketball but pros is another thing and there have been doubts and what keeps women out. Even though this isn’t a head coach job, I think it’s a great start, because you have to start from somewhere. The biggest aid to this, is this is a team and coach or are not really politically correct so they don’t do things for attention. Popovich the SPurs coach, doesn’t bullshit, he either likes you or not, and not because of who you are but what he thinks of your ability or potential. Popovich the coach, hired her not because she’s a woman, but because he felt so highly of her ability that he had to hire her and that she’d be good.

    Here’s a quote from Popovich. “I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich said in a statement released by the team. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”

    Not only that but she’s friends with Tony Parker and anotther guy who are stars on the spurs and she worked with them last year during practices when healing from her injury. The reason this is huge is because she’s not only hired but got a stamp of approval not just from star players on the team but the head coach. Greg Poppovich is high respected in the NBA, he makes great decisions and people don’t querstion his decisions. He’s still coaching but a hall of fame coach,and the SPurs have won 4 or 5 titles and won this year from him. So whatever doubts players on other teams might have, I think him backing her, will help big time to open eyes and minds from players and other nba teams regarding women being able to coach men in the pros.

    She does well which I think she will, will only help spark her to being able to climb the ladder to being a coach and help other women to being hired as coaches or atleast as assistant coaches. So have to give props to coach Popovich.

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