Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why We MUST Say “Like a Girl” - #women'slives

On February 3rd, 2015, a journalism project called Across Women's Lives was launched. It is the result of a media partnership between She Knows Media and Public Radio International.  I accepted an invitation from Blogher to participate. I am embarrassed that my involvement has gotten off to a slow start, but I am looking forward to sharing and writing more posts on this topic in the future.

Today I am adding my voice to the #womenslives campaign by sharing a link to an article I wrote earlier, and expanding on the theme of gender equality.

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On June 30th, 2014, I published a blog post “Like a girl and Proud of It.” In it, I shared the video for the Always "Like a Girl" campaign that I had just seen on Facebook.  The phrase “like a girl” has traditionally (sadly) referred to doing something weaker or with less ability than a boy/man could do. In my article, I proudly gave an example of how my daughter, as a competitive swimmer, has challenged this ridiculous stereotype.


You can read my previous blog post and see the Always campaign video by clicking here: Like a Girl and Proud of It.

Writing and journalism are now common career choices for women, although they were not always an option. My daughter has written several published articles, so perhaps it could be said that she not only swims "like a girl," but writes "like one" too!

In one of her recent swimming articles for Swimming World, my daughter pointed out that Olympian Katie Ledecky, a high school senior, is so fast she owns an Olympic Trials qualifying time in the men's 1500m freestyle event. As my daughter eloquently put it, “all but the very best male swimmers typically understand that somewhere out there, there is a girl who can beat them.”  I would expand upon that by saying that most boys/men should probably understand that somewhere out there, there is a girl/woman who can accomplish as much or more of nearly anything that they can do.  (I said “nearly” because there are a few things in life that biologically only men can do, and others that only women can do!)

Our society is beginning to understand that accomplishments are not often defined by gender.  Efforts such as the “Like a Girl” campaign are in-part responsible for this changing mindset. Proof of this is how tremendously popular the hashtag #likeagirl became, when the video aired as a commercial during Super Bowl Sunday.

I read a written criticism of the "like a girl" slogan by someone who pointed out that “athletes are athletes,” and since we don't say “like a boy” why should we say “like a girl”?  My argument would be that we must say it. It is only by associating these words with what a girl can truly accomplish, that we can break the previous stereotype associated with the phrase.

Ideally, hopefully soon, there will be no limitation of accomplishments imposed, implied or assumed by gender; and efforts - whether male or female - will be equally recognized and compensated.

What is an example of gender inequality you feel needs to be changed?
This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

12 comments :

  1. I am reminded of my son's soccer game years ago. The coach's son was in goal and made a move that didn't meet with his dad's approval and dad uttered a classic line that has become a family favorite. "Aw Jordan Stop it! You're playing like a girllllll." It was a sunny, crisp October morning and his voice rang out loud and clear. All the parents were stunned. Later, as we were driving home my son muttered "What an ass." Dearly hoping he wasn't referring to Jordan I asked in an innocent Mom voice "Who?" "The coach of course. He clearly needs to keep his mouth shut. And watch Christine Sinclair and the other Canadian women's soccer team play ..."
    Whenever we hear asinine comments such as this coach's we always grin and say "Jordan's dad." Little does that man know the impact he has made ...

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    1. Poor Jordan - and not because of the words of the comment! What a great response by your son!

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  2. I remember your original post on this subject, and it was excellent. We've come a long way, but there is still much to be done! I'm very impressed that your daughter is a published writer - like mother, like daughter!

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    1. Actually Lana, I think it is "Like daughter, like mother." I wish I had half the talent as a writer that my daughter does. She is truly my inspiration!

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  3. i am big fan of helping women out to alleviate some of the issues that they face. I wish there was more effort done on the blogsphere and seeing you do it encourages me a lot

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    1. One voice at a time, Xabz, and we will get there!

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  4. Still getting caught up and it has been since right before the #1000Speaks when I quit getting them. Either it has to do with Google + or your subscription service. I should start getting them now though. So glad you are apart of this too! I am very excited about it!

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    1. Thank you for bringing #1000Speaks to my attention, Rena - it was you who told me about it in the first place.

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  5. Gender inequality goes both ways I guess! Having volunteered in classrooms for many years it seems like most boys don't have it easy. They are either too shy or too loud or too hyper and the teachers dislike all of that! Often times I have seen many bright boys being left behind because of that...

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    1. Good point Ish - the goal IS gender equality, and really also equality for all. A good teacher is one who can bring out the best in a child, no matter their gender or their personality!

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  6. That ad made me cry. When does the stereotype kick in? And why does it? My daughter is one of the top theatre carpenters - if not THE top carpenter - in the entire city of Edmonton. She is well-respected and has done work for nearly every theatre company in this very theatrical city. And this only eight years after graduation. I'm so proud of her. She has made a name for herself in the formerly 'men only' niche. Hurrah for the girls who don't see barriers. Who only see a job that must be done. Congratulations to your daughter. I wish her the best. In the pool . . . and in whatever she chooses to do. She can do it!
    P.S. the world always needs good writers! :)

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    1. Hurrah for your daughter!! Good for her! Somehow, Diane, it doesn't surprise me in the least that you would have a remarkable daughter!
      And thanks for your encouragement for mine.

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