Those of you who regularly visit YouTube may have seen the Always campaign to bring the word ‘unstoppable’ into the vocabulary of every girl: to defy the negativity that bounds them.
When I first saw this campaign, I was saddened to see young girls who feel so inhibited by their gender. I personally have never felt this way, either because I have never been made to feel as such or because I have a tendency to ignore the word of others. And so, watching the campaign instilled a strong sense of curiosity for me: just who, or what, makes girls feel this way?
I have spoken before about my aversion to being called a ‘feminist’. This is not because I disagree with the feminist point of view in any way. I am a firm believer in every kind of equality. Every person should be treated based on their own merits, not their gender. But to me, the term ‘feminist’ falls into the same categorical issue as the one presented by the ‘Like a Girl’ campaign. Language has a massive impact on the ways in which we view and respond to the world around us. It rationalises what we see, morphing it into something that we think makes sense.
As soon as a person is labeled a ‘feminist’, they are labeled as someone who is different and unequal to their peers. That one word instantly differentiates them and their purpose from all other kinds of people. There are those who want equality…and feminists.
Image sourced from here.
Language is powerful. The phrase ‘like a girl’ automatically segregates the genders, implying that there is a male and female way of doing things. When ‘like a girl’ is used as an insult, it directly insults every female, everywhere. Equally, the phrase is often used to insult boys, who are under just as much societal pressure to become strong heroes, rescuing the damsels in distress.
We, as a society, use gender as an insult, as though being female is a bad thing. We inhibit people just by accusing them of behaving in a stereotypical female manner and in doing so, we not only imply that there is something wrong with being a girl, but that there is a distinct difference between male and female behaviour and that this distinction may dictate the rights of a person.
There is not, really, any such thing as ‘like a girl’ or ‘like a boy’. If we took the time to study individuals, in all their beautiful rarity, we would find that everyone has their own way of doing everything. They do not run, or throw, or shout or laugh ‘like a girl': they laugh like themselves.
I am a girl. I hate fashion and make-up. I love food. I run with my arms flailing because, if I don’t, I fall over. I fight with my elbows because I know they hurt. I laugh at crude humour because it is funny. I wake up a girl and at the end of every day I go to sleep…a girl. But that does not dictate who I am.
It’s time for society to stop viewing any member of society through the gender lens and start viewing them through whatever lens they wish and choose to be viewed through.
Find out more about #LikeAGirl here.