Yesterday my 11-year-old daughter showed me a video they had been discussing at school. It’s call ‘Like A Girl’, a campaign by Always Take a look.
Always Like a Girl Campaign #likeagirl
The Like A Girl campaign filmed by the women’s brand Always grabbed my curiosity, so I had a browse around their online presence. It seems their message is something quite different to simply selling sanitary pads. They state, ‘for the past 30 years, Always has been empowering girls globally, bringing puberty education to millions of adolescent girls’ – this film reflects just that.
It shows a series of teenage boy and girl models, maybe 15 years and older, being filmed acting ‘like a girl’, i.e. run ‘like a girl’, throw a ball ‘like a girl’ and as you can imagine, they do as they are asked, they act in a ‘girly manner’, flicking hair, kicking heels out behind them, waving hands around – ‘like a girl’.
Then they show an 11-year-old and ask her to act the same thing. She runs in a normal competitive way, she throws a ball with fierce precision and concentration. There is no concept that ‘like a girl’ is a disparaging comment, with connotations actually meaning you are pretty useless at doing stuff.
My daughter is on the verge of puberty and at the moment doesn’t even have to think about being competitive, or different, or ‘like a girl’. She is just Meg who does most things with gusto.
Back in the day, a hundred or so years ago when I was an English student, I was into deconstructionism, basically deconstructing language, picking it apart to understand the world we live in. The theory of analysing why we use the language we do and where it comes from, the effects it has on us as a society. The way we use words has such an underlying unconscious effect on us as a people, and this film points this out brilliantly, and really makes you think.
Meg pointed out to my husband that occasionally he tells our son to ‘man up’. That means, pull yourself together, and stop whining (like a girl). Now my husband isn’t sexist, in fact I’d go as far as to say he’s a great feminist (btw, when did that word become a dirty word? What’s all that about!?). Megs comments really made him think. When you spend a few days looking for this kind of underlying sexism you can see it exists everywhere, of course not only on our TV’s, in our music, and on our billboards, but also in sport, even in the fact that my daughter wants to go to Sea Scouts, but would my son ever want to go to Guides – I think not.
Now I’m not going to get too political here, I could… but I implore mums and dads, most of whom think that sexism is ultimately wrong, to look at the language you use with your kids, even those quips with your tongue in your cheek, and just don’t go there, find some other words to use. I really really want to keep my daughter feeling powerful, confident and equal to all, right into her adulthood, I’m sure you want that for your daughters too.
Youth and Inspired Women
There is a great local group in Norwich called Inspired Youth and Inspired Women. Look them up. They’re on Facebook too. They do some great events and are an innovative and exciting collection of people. They are dedicated to raising inspirations of young women and broaden their horizons of career opportunities, through working with local professional women. This is fabulous, keep doing the great work! But, I’m sure they’d agree, what a shame this is still needed in 2016! Wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t.