By Beth Kassab
Confession: I’ve used the phrase “like a girl” as an insult.
Maybe I was watching college football and didn’t like a play. Maybe, 20 years ago, I was teasing my kid brother.
The saying is so common I can’t recall a specific instance, but I know it’s slipped out.
I heard the “like a girl” put-down countless times when I was growing up. So I believed it and repeated it.
That’s why the Super Bowl commercial by feminine product maker Always is getting so much attention, and has turned into the latest Twitter war. It encapsulated what so many of us were thinking in 60 short seconds.
Because here’s something else: I’ve never said “like a girl” around my daughter.
Somehow, as an adult raising a girl, I came to know the truth about that phrase.
I heard how mean those words could sound. How unfair the connotation that girls are weaker and meeker than boys. And the insinuation that that’s how it should be.
It’s not that I didn’t think the phrase was insulting as a kid. I knew it was.
As an adult I just wasn’t willing to accept it any longer.
If anybody questions whether a campaign to boost girls’ confidence is needed today, all you need to know is that moments after the ad aired on Sunday night the hashtag “like a boy” was trending on Twitter.
“Seriously #likeagirl is the most insulting commercial ever and there better be a #likeaboy commercial,” tweeted one user.
Said another, “#LikeABoy because I can actually run and throw” and “Everyone’s self esteem drops during puberty. It’s called puberty #SuperBowIXLIX #LikeABoy.”
There was plenty of blowback from women and men who pointed out that “like a boy” isn’t used as an insult.
And there was no shortage of indignation from people who said men were throwing a hissy fit simply because girls got a little attention during America’s extravaganza of masculinity.