Like a Girl

I’m really, really tired of the fact that being called a girl or a woman is the worst insult you can throw at a boy or a man. There is nothing shameful about being a girl and a woman, so why is it so insulting to be called one?

I was thinking about this recently when I was watching “The Sandlot” with my kids. I triple love that movie and part of it was filmed in my hometown. I’ve loved that movie for 20 years, but there is one part that has always bothered me. When Ham is trading insults back and forth with the rival baseball team his penultimate insult is to tell the other player that, “you play ball like a girl!” Everyone is shocked! How dare he go there? THAT WAS THE WORST DIS IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!!!

What does that even mean? This movie is set in the 1950s during a time where America had a professional girl’s baseball team. Shouldn’t playing ball like a girl be a compliment since back then there were professional female ball players and they were just kids in a sandlot?

There is a company in Salt Lake called Pick n’ Pull and they have rather annoying radio commercials. In one of their commercials the two guys in the ad are arguing over telling each other’s secrets. One of them shouts out at the end the other guy used to ride a girl’s bicycle that was pink. So what? What about him riding a “girl’s” bicycle as a child should be embarrassing or shaming? He got to ride a bike as a child. Congratulations, you’re richer than 90% of the world’s population.

Speaking of bikes, my son rode his sister’s bike to school the 2nd day of school because his scooter is broken and he didn’t want to walk. He was mercilessly teased on the way home. He came home bawling his face off because people were so mean to him about riding a “girl’s” bike. My daughter’s bike is black and just has a tiny butterfly sticker on it. Why the hell does it matter so much what bike he rode to school? Why is supposed to be so humiliating for a boy to ride or have anything remotely feminine? The sickening thing was that the child who teased him the most was a girl. It makes me sad that at a young age she is internalized the message that being a girl is wrong and shameful and she should attempt to humiliate any boy who does anything remotely feminine. It makes me so angry.

I’m still trying to figure out what “like a girl” even means! One time this kid told me I ran like a girl. My response? “Good because I AM a girl, dumbass.” Why was this kid trying to insult me by saying that something I was doing was feminine? What is so wrong with being feminine? What is wrong with being a girl? What is wrong with being a woman?


So, dear culture at large: stop trying to insult boys and men by saying they are girls. It’s not an insult to be a girl. Stop calling them names like the p-word that rhymes with wussy and all the other “delightful” euphemisms for female reproductive parts.  There is NOTHING wrong with being a girl. There is nothing wrong with being feminine. There is nothing weak about being a girl. There is nothing shameful about being a girl. There is nothing wrong with having a vagina and the ability to bring forth life. That, my dear, is the very essence of strength. (Pop 4 kids out of your reproductive parts and we’ll talk about whether you can use the p-word as another word for being weak, bucko).

So boys and men, next time you’re insulted by being called a girl or a woman, think about why. Think about it. Sit with it for a minute.  Is it because our culture has sold you the lie that it is shameful to be feminine? That it is shameful to be a woman? The culture is wrong. The culture is misogynistic and hates women, otherwise being called one wouldn’t be such an insult to you. Just like being a more masculine woman is not insulting. One gender is not better than the other (I’m totally aware of intersexed and transsexual people, but I’m talking generally here and I could write a whole other post about why transwomen are more likely to be killed and/or hurt because of transitioning to a female).

Next time someone tries to insult you by saying you’re “like a girl” in some respect, turn around and say “thank you!’ Because there it nothing wrong with being a girl. Nothing. And I refuse to let my children grow up in a world where being half the population is considered an insult.




25 thoughts on “Like a Girl

  1. I just came over from fMh and this title grabbed me because of a recently annoying incident. Some guy at church came up with a fitness challenge for the other guys and cc’d my husband. One charming fellow on the list said something about being able to bike 200 miles or being a “girl.” My husband and I were both disgusted. I’d like to put him up against the two women in my ward that just competed in triathlons. I thought for a while about trying to understand what other words “girl” was a stand-in for and decided I didn’t want to waste any more time thinking about him. But wow, I wished I’d been on that email list and able to give him a piece of my mind.

  2. I found your blog based on your FYI post and I really appreciated it, Then I went to look at some of your other posts, and I found this. I have been talking about this because my 4 year old boy had long hair until about a month ago when he decided to cut it off. He would probably be called a girl by adults as often as he was called a boy. I would assess the situation as to whether it made any difference to correct the person, and if the conversation continued I’d use the appropriate pronouns. Sometimes people would realize that L was a boy and go “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize he was a boy” to which my response was almost always “It’s okay, you didn’t call him something bad. There’s nothing offensive about being a girl, we love girls, he just doesn’t happen to be one.”

    I’ve been wrestling a bit lately with the idea of misogyny in our culture, the slut-shaming, etc and processing some of it with my husband and I think some of what I’ve come up with is that the reason why the standards for women and girls are SO confusing and twisted (women should be sexually appealing/provocative, nope, now you’re slutty- cover up; being girly or feminine is negative, but don’t be butch or masculine because, eww) is because what it actually boils down to is just sin in the human condition. Talking with my husband we were able to have some discussions on the way that men are portrayed and expectations for men in society (in a way that wasn’t “poor white man’s burden”) and that men are given different standards of virility that aren’t attainable, and are often portrayed as “stupid lumps” particularly in father/husband roles, and painted broad-brush as being rape machines. While this isn’t the same burden that women have to bear, mostly from still benefiting from the institutionalized privilege that comes from being male in our society, men as well as members of different ethnic and racial groups, the LGBT community and people of all socioeconomic statuses all have ways in which they are abused and brought down by the culture at large to different degrees. I’m not trying to insinuate that you are excluding those groups, but for me, I found it helpful to see that no one really gets out unscathed, and that there might be an even deeper root than paternalism and patriarchy driving the call against women in our society.

    I hope this makes sense, I’m trying to put my thoughts down in between preschool pickups and taking care of a rambunctious toddler girl (who got called out for wearing boy clothes last week, despite my rather strong protest that the clothes, in fact, did not have a penis or vagina).

    TL;DR- I appreciate what I’ve read of your writing, and look forward to getting to read more of your blog as I have time .

  3. It’s shocking when we see the indoctrination in action. I witnessed a parent of a 1 year old boy telling him that a glitter tattoo thing at a birthday party had to be a skull or dragon because a puppy would be too girly. What is wrong with a 1 year old boy liking a puppy???

  4. Last year I taught in a girls’ school and I picked one of the year elevens up for making an inappropriate comment about her brother. Her response was that he’s “a big girl”. I was shocked to find that when I explained why that should never be an insult the whole class thought I was overreacting.

  5. This kind of thing drives me crazy too! I have an older daughter and younger son. My son always wants to wear his sister’s socks to be like her. Half the time he has mismatched pink and purple socks up to his knees (sometimes one pink and one olive with a picture of Godzilla, lol), while she was cramming her feet into his little ones for a while- just because they were new. I never cared a bit but grandparents would comment- especially, of course, my mother in law. She would say that he should be wearing “boy socks” and that he would get made fun of. Well, at age 2 no one is making fun of each other’s sock choice and by the time he gets old enough he will have settled into what he discovers is “cultural appropriate” as kids recognize these things very early on. And if adults don’t perpetuate the inequity and instead reinforce that people of both genders can wear what they like, then maybe our culture will evolve someday. But this kind of thing does annoy me.

  6. I too found your blog from the FYI post & LOVE it. As the mom of 5, 3 girls & 2 boys ages 5-16 all I can say is you ROCK. My 16 year old feminist daughter is enjoying your blog as well. I am looking forward to more thoughtful & thought provok post.

    1. Thank you, Andrea. That means a lot to me. Give your daughter a big hug from me. I was also a feminist 16 year old once. Have her read my two posts about why I am a feminist. Those are probably my two favorite things I’ve ever written.

  7. Maybe your son wouldn’t be teased so much about riding his sister’s bike to school if he didn’t act like a little whiny girl all the time to begin with? Just some food for thought!

    1. I can see you’re one of the misogynistic a-holes who this post is for. My son is just fine, and I’m so glad he won’t grow up to be a “man” like you.

  8. “you play ball like a girl!” Everyone is shocked! How dare he go there? THAT WAS THE WORST DIS IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!!!

    What does that even mean?

    It is pretty easy to tell what it means. At least from an athletic standpoint. It means:

    You are slower, weaker, and smaller than all the other players.

    It doesn’t mean much outside of the realm of athletics, but lets face the facts. Women always have been and always will be smaller, slower and weaker than men.

  9. The only point is, you originally asked what “you play ball like a girl” meant. And I told you what it meant. It only has any meaning at all from an athletic standpoint.

    “Women beat men when it comes to endurance at every turn” I would like to see information on this. I do not know of any athletic endurance records held by women.

    1. Actually you didn’t answer anything about what it means to “play ball like a girl.” How does a girl play ball? All you’ve said is women are smaller, slower, and weaker. That doesn’t tell me anything about how a girl actually plays. How does a girl run? These questions will never be answered because there are no answers for them.

      As for endurance, when the first man on earth is able to endure 20+ hours of labor and then push for 2+ hours to get a baby out of him, we’ll talk about endurance. Currently, when it comes to participants of marathons, 60% are women.

      I’m the most unathletic person in the world. I’ve done a half marathon just to prove that I could (being a life-long asthmatic has made competing in anything physical difficult). Consequently, I couldn’t care less about sports. I don’t understand why people care more about which team won the NFL game this weekend than a potential military conflict in Syria. To continue arguing about sports to me is pointless when my post has nothing to do about athletics and everything to do with ending a cultural mindset that says being called a girl is an insult.

      1. Participation has nothing to do with winning.

        “Women beat men when it comes to endurance at every turn”

        There are no athletic endurance events where women outperform men

  10. Ok. I’m following your blog. That’s awesome. I love you for this post. Cuz honestly I thought I was the only person who ranted about that. Everyone else just kinda looks at me like I’m insane.
    I mean, I am insane, but you get what I mean. 😉 Hopefully.

  11. Men are socialized in American culture to focus on the strength of their bodies and develop/enhance that strength.

    Women are socialized in American culture to focus on the beauty of their bodies and develop/enhance that beauty.

    AthleteGirl, you argument fails because we cannot know if women are inherently weaker than man because women as whole in American culture do not consistently develop their strength in fear of being unpretty. Women are expected not to take their strength, agility and speed too far so as not to compete with men. This is changing, and some individual women clearly resist the conditioning (pardon that pun please), but as a whole the socialization holds.

    Also see Risa’s comment above – your argument fails because you chose not to address the main point – that being called a “girl” in this culture is an insult (as well as any number of insults that imply “girlness”)

  12. The second I read the title of this post, I instantly thought, “The Sandlot” and I laughed when I read to where you talk about The Sandlot. (I just watched the movie last week.) That part has always bothered me and I have been thinking about addressing it–you said it much more eloquently than I ever could!

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