Like a Girl

So I just watched ‘Always’ new advertisement “Like a Girl”, which naturally provoked a response from my part. First of all it, it ties in nicely with the recent campaign “He for She”, which is both good and bad. I really like that they are trying to break with traditions, and attempting to change the way we use the expression “like a girl” – it’s a completely valid proposition. However, the fact that ‘Always’ is a corporation and ultimately promoting themselves, leaves me with a kind of hollow feeling – which is not helped by the heroic background music used while the young women at the end of the video are giving their motivational speeches.

However, returning to the message of the video: putting an end to gender-based, negative stereotypes. It’s a really cool, simple and effective way to draw attention to the problem, and I support this a 100 times more than the silly “He for She” celebrity pictures, which were posted, shared – and now forgotten! It is a serious issue, both for girls and boys, and most likely something girls and women face frequently. Who hasn’t been accused of doing something ‘like a girl’ – or even the other way around: not being feminine enough?

That last statement is probably the one who applies best to me. I have never been a girly-girl. I might wear lipstick and dresses every day, but growing up, I would be playing with the boys in the sand box, while the other girls would play the Spice Girls. I didn’t think much of it then, but growing up I have become increasingly aware of what a girl should or should not do.

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The funny thing is, these “rules” are not in force in my home. Growing up my parents didn’t exactly live up to the typical gender roles, and it wasn’t until I was actually an adult, that I realised that some of the things my mum does, are actually considered male domaine – and vice versa. Both my parents do the cleaning, laundry – you name it! Both my parents help out with cooking – my Dad’s lacking skills leaving him mainly on the cleaning team. They are both handy and equally capable in terms of putting up shelves, building things or laying bricks.

However, when I was 19 I discovered the most shocking thing of all, and by far the most unsuitable job for a woman, my mum would perform is… Barbecuing! I was joined by my then boyfriend at a family barbecue at my house, when he suddenly pulled me aside, and with a grave expression on his face asked me “Why is your mum barbecuing?!” – like it was the most unnatural thing in the world. Baffled by the question, I responded “What do you mean..?” He then continued “Yeah… Your dad is just sitting there? Why?” I honestly didn’t know what to tell him. Why would my dad do the barbecuing? He hardly knows how to boil a potato. He had a long day and was tired – wouldn’t anyone prefer to just kick back with a cold beer?

I found the answer a couple of weeks later at my ex boyfriend’s family barbecue. All the women had been slaving all day in the kitchen to prepare everything, but at the time of the actual barbecuing to take place, all the men would gather around the grill with beers in their hands and discuss lawn mowers and what not, while all the women would disappear into the background chatting away.

This kind of segregation and gender stereotypes is just so far away from my view of the world. I don’t want to have to live up those ancient traditions! I want to do whatever I find enjoyable – that being both hunting with my dad and shopping with my mum! I don’t think we should force everything into gender labelled boxes! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a supporter of the genderless society either, where you can’t call Barbie a girl’s toy. I just don’t see why we are so busy defining perfectly unisex behaviour in such archaic fashion.

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