When one woman honors who she is,
all women collectively move closer
to becoming who they are capable of being.
May I share with you something I witnessed a couple days ago?
I was walking past a young boy (about three years old) who was smack-dab centered in the middle of a loud, sniffly-nosed, temper-tantrumed melt-down in the grocery store. This could be considered the crime – but it was trivial compared to what his mother said.
“You’re acting like a girrrrrrrl,” she said in a mocking tone.
“No I’m not!” he sobbed through his tears.
“Yes you are. Ha-ha – look at you – you’re crying like a girl.”
“No I’m not,” he yelled louder, wiping his runny nose with the back of his hand.
“Listen to you crying! Yes you are. You’re just like a little girl,” she continued, leering at him.
I recoiled at what sounded like the playground voice of a bully.
“I’m NOT a girl,” he screamed louder, in exhaustion and shame, as if that was the meanest, most degrading thing he could be called.
I kept walking but I couldn’t stop thinking about that mother. That woman!
A woman, mind you – deriding the child for acting “like a girl.”
It hurt my heart.
It made me angry.
It reminded me how far so many of us still have to go. What is this one woman teaching an impressionable little boy about how “girls” behave?
And on the flip side of the sex coin, as a boy, will that embarrasment mold him into a man who feels it’s shameful and weak to cry?
He was probably just tired. It could have been his nap time. A hug might have soothed him. Anything but what she was doing: humiliating him for acting “like a girl.”
Aren’t there more than enough women who under-achieve, play too small, don’t get paid what they’re worth, belittle themselves and their bodies as it is? Aren’t there enough women and girls in the world who are physically and sexually abused? Who have no rights? Who are still battling for equality? Who feel they have to hide their feminine qualities in order to get ahead, to be seen and/or heard?
As females, we have so many strengths to celebrate. So many things that make us uniquely feminine. Many of us lead our families as matriarchs. In order to be successful and happy, we have to treat ourselves and each other with respect. We have to dismantle the limiting beliefs we carry around that have been indoctrinated into our psyche.
My dad had three little girls (one of whom was me in the picture above) who grew up to be three strong and confident women; three compassionate women who enjoy being women. He expected a lot from us. He always told us we could do it – whatever “it” was. I was lucky. We were lucky. I know this.
And we had a mother who was strong, stood up for herself, smart and independent – all while putting her family first. She was always curious and supportive. She’s still that way at 83 years old.
Men and women? We’re different – but not greater than or less than.
Do you remember the Super-bowl commercial in 2014 that asked kids to run like a girl, throw like a girl, fight like a girl, etc.? It was a powerful message. At first, when asked to show what it was like to run like a girl, throw like a girl or fight like a girl, both the boys and girls being recorded performed in a demeaning, klutzy way. But after being asked why they did so, and giving their responses some consideration, they changed how they demonstrated these things “like a girl.” They acted with dignity and coordination.
When using “like a girl” as an insult it’s a hard knock against any female and disempowering. It’s a terrible, erroneous message to give little boys, pre-puberty boys, teen-aged boys and men.
Can we remember that being “like a girl” is a very positive thing?
One girl at a time. One daughter, one granddaughter, one niece, one sister, one friend, one female acquaintance, one co-worker at a time. Let’s celebrate the strength and beauty of being a girl.