Tag Archives: feminism

Stop Making “Like a Girl” an Insult

In the military, this one comes up all the time.  It’s embedded in our everyday culture.  Women and men both use it frequently.  They use the label ‘girl’ as an insult.

“Hurry up, ladies”  when guys are taking forever to change or catch up or complete a task.

“You hit like a girl” when someone is weak

“Suck it up, girlie” when someone is being a pansy

“You’re such a little girl” when someone complains

It’s insulting.  It’s degrading.  Find something else to use.  Girls and women are not weak and they do not have less worth than boys and men.  How can you possibly even think that of the half of the species that has to go through friggin’ childbirth, for crying out loud?

And on that note, I love this ad:

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Filed under Equality, Opinion pieces

Not Sorry!

I’m still working on not being one of those women who apologizes all the time.  Being in the military has been very good for helping break the habit, but I still do it.  I am guilty of pretty much every scenario in this video.

I am also terrible at saying “no” and calling people out when I’m uncomfortable.  But I try.  And I will continue to try even harder because I don’t want my daughter picking up on my bad habits.  As she grows up, I want her to stay the strong, independent, opinionated, and feisty girl she already is.  I want her to learn that “sorry” is a powerful word to be used when you actually hurt someone or something, and not to be used as awkward filler material when you’re not truly sorry at all.  And it certainly shouldn’t be used in the self-deprecating way that women frequently use it.

What’s the big deal with saying “sorry?”  When we say it without having done anything wrong, it weakens us.  It takes away what little power we have.  When a guy bumps into me and I’m the one who says “sorry” it sends the message that he can irritate or possibly hurt me (or at the very least be rude) and not only get away with it, but I’ll even think it’s my own fault!  Or at least I’m trying so hard to keep the peace and be polite and submissive that I’ll apologize for just about anything.

One of the good examples I look at for how to break the habit is the Liaden culture in one of my favorite sci-fi series of books.  Written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the Liaden people detest and discourage apologizing – they will express regret, make amends, or take revenge as needed (achieving balance, as they call it), but they don’t say sorry.  It’s even considered rude to do so – it’s something that puts a burden on the person you are saying sorry to.  The Liaden universe is one of my favorites to escape to, in part because the people are polite and firm and the women are so very strong.

Are you a chronic apologizer?  How do you work to stand up for yourself and break the habit?

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Filed under Equality, Opinion pieces

This Documentary is Awesome. Makers: Women Who Make America

What a wonderful series. How have I not seen this until now?  I made it through all three episodes available on PBS.org this weekend, and was blown away.  I’ve always considered myself something of a feminist, so I was embarrassed to find out from a TV documentary just how woefully ignorant I am of the women’s movement in the United States.

The series first aired beginning in February of 2013 and covers from WWII through the present.  It is absolutely fascinating and well made.  It also made me very, very angry to see just how nasty a fight women have had so far.  For example, I didn’t realize that until are recently as my own childhood, there were essentially no laws on the books protecting women (or anyone else, for that matter) from domestic violence and rape.  In the 1970s, there wasn’t even a term for domestic violence.  Heartbreaking.  I’m glad we’ve come so far, but oh, boy do we still have a very long way to go to achieve equality.

What I found most interesting is how cyclical the fight has been: a push for rights, achieving those rights when enough support is achieved, and then the backlash.  Two steps forward and one step back.  Women going to work in WWII, gaining recognition and respect, then being fired and pushed back into the role of housewives in the 1950s.  Getting the ERA through congress and most of the states, and then women leading the fight against it in the last few states and getting the whole thing shot down.  And on and on.  To the current day, where sexism is still rampant at home and around the world (if you don’t believe me, check out the global Everyday Sexism Project or ask any woman who has ever done Cosplay at a con), and many countries in the developing world still treat women as property or worse.

If you’re interested, the series is free to watch online on PBS:

http://video.pbs.org/program/makers-women-who-make-america/

And since I now feel the urge to do more research into this history, I’ll post anything else interesting that I find.

Have you seen it already?  What did you think?

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Filed under Equality, Opinion pieces

Busting that Stereotype, Cracking that Ceiling, and Proving Those Jerks Wrong.

One of my favorite t-shirts – from http://www.offworlddesigns.com

This is for every girl or woman who had to grow up hearing any of these.  A little motivation for a gray February day.

“Girls aren’t good at math and science.”

We are.  We may not always be encouraged to be, but we are.  I’m encouraging you now.  Surround yourself with others who will encourage you.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or aren’t good at something if you haven’t tried at least a dozen different approaches to get better in your weaker areas.  Find a tutor, or a book that explains it better, or work with a friend.  You’d be amazed how much a fresh perspective and a little support can do to make you realize that math and science are fun – and not that hard if you’re not constantly told you can’t.

“Oh, don’t you look pretty in that outfit.”

You do – but that’s not all you are.  You have substance, you have worth, you have brains.  You are more than the fashion of the moment, a doll, an object, or your external appearance.

“Why are you playing with a boy’s toy?  Don’t you want a dolly?”

Variety is the spice of life.  Choice is important.  Figure out what you like, and don’t let others dictate what you enjoy.  You don’t have to pick pink sparkly things – but if you do, it should be because you were allowed a choice and decided for yourself what your tastes are.  There’s nothing wrong with pink, sparkles, ruffles, dolls, rainbows, kittens, or bows – but they shouldn’t be crammed down anyone’s throat as the only way to go or the only acceptable things for girls to play or decorate with.

“Oh, you’re such a sweet little princess”

Being a princess isn’t actually very glamorous in real life.  They have schedules, keepers, public appearances, and not a whole lot of freedom.  A real-life princess is scrutinized in the press, never gets any privacy, and has the whole world notice if she gets a gray hair or dares wear the same outfit twice.  Their ‘subjects’ often question why they are even still around – it’s rough to have a bunch of people say you aren’t necessary, or even that you’re a burden.  They’re also usually extremely well-educated, politically savvy, and highly accomplished women in their own rights, not fluff-headed cartoon characters full of sweetness and light.

“That’s such an un-feminine thing to say or do.”

Who gets to define that?  Feminine according to what standard?  None of it makes any sense and there’s no consistency.  Women should cook at home, but men get to be great chefs?  How does it even make sense that one is ‘feminine’ while the other is ‘masculine’?  Women should be in trim shape, but not so fit as to be muscular?  Skirted garments are for women in one culture, but for men in others?  You should dress ‘pretty’ but not ‘sexy’ and have to know where that moving-target fine line is at all times?  These ‘rules’ change from decade to decade and culture to culture.  So don’t bother chasing an ever-changing impossible ‘standard.’  Be yourself and find things to do that you enjoy and are willing to work hard at.

“You’re not skinny/pretty/stylish enough.”

Be healthy.  Be confident.  Take care of yourself.  None of the rest of it matters.

“You’re too bossy/b*tchy/pushy”

If you were a boy or man, you’d be described as ‘confident’ instead.  Or a ‘good leader,’ or ‘persuasive.’  It’s another double standard.  Be yourself, and stand up for yourself.  Stay tactful, but don’t be afraid to push back.  And never, ever be afraid to say ‘no.’  It’s a very powerful word.

“You’re such a feminist.”

Definition of feminism according to Merriam-Webster: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.  How did that ever become an insult?  Why is it ‘ the other f-word?’  What is so awful about wanting equal rights and opportunities?  Feminist doesn’t equal misandrist.  There’s nothing in the definition about hating men, thinking women are better than men, wanting to take anything away from men.  What is so horribly threatening about people wanting to be equal?

“You’ll never find a husband doing (insert whatever they think you’re doing wrong)”

A husband is a life partner.  Partner.  As in equal.  Not someone who will take pity on you or somehow be talked or tricked into attaching himself to you for life.  If you aren’t yourself when finding a spouse or partner, you’re basing the whole relationship on a lie.  It’s not fair to either of you.  Be the best self you can be – and remember that being someone you are not won’t find you a compatible partner, it will find you misery.

“Girls/women can’t do (insert pretty much anything here).”

So there’s a bunch of stuff that an entire half of the world’s population can’t do?  Women can’t fight a war?  It’s been done at least part of the time for most of recorded history.  Win a Nobel Prize?  Many times over.  Finish an Iron Man?  Check.  Climb Everest?  Done.  Discover a new element?  Yes.  Reach the North Pole?  Yep.  Win Iditarod?  Done.  Engineer, CEO, film director, doctor, physicist, astronaut, ship captain, general, inventor, you name it, it’s pretty darned likely a woman has done it.  Probably lots of women, many of them against incredible odds and extra barriers.  So don’t tell me a woman or girl can’t do something.  When you say that, what I hear is actually, “I personally don’t think you should for some reason, but I’ll say ‘girls’ or ‘women’ to generalize so I don’t sound quite as much like a jerk.”  When you tell a girl she can’t, you’re probably doing it for a selfish or ignorant reason, or out of long habit you don’t feel like breaking.  Don’t you dare ever tell a little girl she can’t do something.  It takes a pretty soulless schmuck to squash the dreams of a child.

Yeah, ok, so I’m feeling a little punchy on this topic today.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go back to work on trying to follow my own advice 🙂

Has anyone ever told you that you can’t do something?  How did you respond?  What do you wish someone had told you that you could achieve when you were little?

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