“Like a girl…” [What we teach our boys]
When men insult each other you’ll often hear them ending the jibe with “like a girl”. You run, “like a girl”. You jump, “like a girl”. You fight, “like a girl”. You eat, “like a girl”. You talk, “like a girl”.
Without knowing it, many parents (yes moms, you too) raise boys to not be “like a girl”. Boys don’t cry or play with dolls etc. While we encourage our boys to grow into manly men, we belittle the fairer sex. What we’re impressing on our boys is that women are weak. That girls are lame and women are no better. Our super powers include (but is not limited to) being hormonal wrecks who paint nails whole day and do silly things like care. We’re definitely not afraid to catch feels.
It doesn’t end with “like a girl” though. Many boys grow up believing that women are not to be respected as equals and that we are beneath them. It may not be blatantly uttered but it sure is implied. Action speak louder than words. The kid that is surrounded by alcohol abuse will believe it to be normal. The same goes for a boy growing up with the “like a girl” thought pattern. They’re conditioned like that.
As adults, we often hear what we want to and it may not come close to what was actually said. Now just imagine what kids (who don’t know any better) hear when we speak to them. Or what they learn from us without words.
The #menaretrash statement is a good example of thought patterns and how we tend to get stuck on tangents. How, without completely grasping a concept we choose to take from it what we feel is right/good to and for us. I’ve had plenty of debates on the topic and while the men I’ve spoken to vehemently swear that not all men are trash, they easily agree that they fear for the safety of the women and girls in their lives. Fear that other men will cause their girls harm. Yet, they do not agree with the statement. You see, even when reading a hashtag people misinterpret. Thus I ask again… Can we blame boys for developing a belief system that “like a girl” belittles women and girls? (FYI: I firmly believe that not all men are trash. Neither my husband or father is. I do believe that many men out there are trash therefore I support the movement. So if the shoe fits…)
You’ll never hear someone telling a rapist “Oh you rape ‘like a girl'”, so why is it OK to add those three words to any other sentence?
The high school I work at prove the “like a girl” theory right every single day. When boys speak about strict female educators they often say how “crazy” they are or “Ms X is probably PMS’ing”. Often the females are ridiculed and not taken seriously. Their male counterparts are respected by default because they are men. The sir will be considered strict and that’s that. Because of this attitude, women have to work twice as hard to earn respect from men and women alike. Unfortunately boys and men are not the only ones who have been indoctrinated.
Like, what does a woman’s ovaries have to do with anything?
Three weeks ago a teenage boy disrespected me and blatantly disregarded my reprimand because I’m a woman. To him I was young looking woman who doesn’t deserve his attention or respect. In true warrior mode (I’m talking Olivia Pope here people!) I walked up to him and said “I don’t know who you think I am or who you thought you just disrespected, BUT let me tell you something my boy, just because I. Am. A woman. And much younger and shorter than Mr A (for Alias), I. Will. Not. Tolerate you speaking to me the way you feel. If and only if you can get away with it with Mr A, you’re welcome to say what you like to me. Until then, go park your behind in that chair and wait!”
With a groan the lad parked his behind in the chair and mumbled “Who does she think she is” To which I laughed (the condescending kind) and said “Well SHE is the woman who happens to have won this round. So continue to moan like a baby if you want. Just as long as you did what I told you, I’m happy. And young man… One more thing. I am not your child. I’m not your friend. I’m not your mother nor anyone you should mess with. Oh when I say this round, I do believe we won’t have to cross this bridge again. This will be the last time.” I totally Olivia Poped him and I could see his head spinning. He hasn’t given me lip since and hangs his head whenever he sees me. It’s safe to say that the message has been received loud and clear to many of the boys at school as well.
There is nothing funnier than seeing boys and men’s reactions when they encounter a strong woman.
Unfortunately the strong get labelled as bullies in skirts. More commonly known as a b!tch. We are obviously seen as hormonal time bombs who has nothing better to do than nag all day and have hissy fits when we don’t get our way. Boo hoo…
1) Be sports superstars
2) Change a ‘flat’ wheel.
3) Watch scary movies and sleep peacefully thereafter.
4) Fight without scratching and pulling hair. We pack a mean punch ?
5) Start a fire and ‘braai’
6) Make decisions without emotional outbursts.
Strong girls and women know there is no real competition between men and women. It’s not a matter of Anything you can do, I can do better. We know our strengths and weaknesses. We just don’t want you to play on it. Not with us or each other. Don’t generalise. We don’t expect all men to be able to fix the plumbing or even rewire the electric circuits at home. That’s what the Yellow Pages and artisans are there for.
In conclusion, I need you to understand that this is not a social rant about feminism or violence against women and children. This is about the way in which our lives have been shaped and our responsibility of shaping those of the next generation. It’s about women and children living in fear because we unwittingly teach our boys misogyny.
You see, boys become men who act as if they have dominion over women. How about we change that? How about we show them that girls may be smaller but we’re not weaker. So instead, scrap “like a girl” and teach our boys not to be “turds”.