Why is being a girl an insult?

We have a real problem in the country and I’m sure not many are actually how aware how deep the rabbit hole goes. It seems that it’s an insult to be a girl.

We say it to our boys:

“Stop being such a girl”

“You throw like a girl”

“Don’t cry like a girl”

“You prance around like a girl”

…I could go on.

I always imagine a little girl in the corner over hearing this.

What does this tell her about herself? Does she hear “don’t be like [insert girl’s name here]”

About her gender? Does she hear “all girls are weak.”

About her place in the world? Does she hear “you’ll never get ahead if you act like a girl”

As a grown woman, I’ve heard this said many times to the boys/men in my life as well on the internet, in movies, in media, in songs… Today I’ve heard it three times.

I don’t get it. When I hear a man tell another man “don’t be such a girl” I think you mean, in tune with your emotions, your compassion, I don’t know being a complete human being? What is SO wrong with being a girl?

No one has told me to “Man up.” I have had someone say “grow a pair” which I thought was odd. So much so that I said “you first.” Then again, I’m a troublemaker.

Since when is being a girl a bad thing? Parents don’t get to choose what gender child they have. The child doesn’t get to choose on day one. With 51% of the population being female why haven’t we evolved passed this terrible illusion of gender superiority? At this day-and-age with violence against women numbers getting worse, lower pay for equal work, birth control madness and mommy wars, I wonder why anyone would choose to be a woman. Don’t we women have it bad enough without having “girl” be an insult? They are children for crying out loud!

If you took a minute to write out characteristics that are defined as male or female, please prove to me that they can’t be interchanged. Men are strong – so are women. Mythbusters has a physical strength test where it tested the pain threshold of men and women and um…the women scored higher pain threshold. Women are emotional – so are men!  If you’ve somehow never seen man cry or loose his emotional core, you can do a Google search for videos and images of men crying but this interview by Dustin Hoffman about Tootsie sums up not only seeing a man try not to cry but also trying to discover what it would be like if he was born different.

We say words like “Don’t be a girl” for two reasons #1 we’ve heard it before from others #2 we don’t think about what it means.

It’s these habitual and unconscious dialogue of misogyny that are so stuck in our culture. I have made a point to not insult others by gender, sexual preference, race or age for two reasons #1 it’s wrong #2 it doesn’t actually insult a person as there is NOTHING they can do to change their gender, sexual preference, race or age! It’s a pointless insult!

This week I made the connection of the everyday items that have misogynistic references. I have vowed to not call a man’s white tank top as a “wife beater,” or a counter turntable a “Lazy Susan”, or reference a u-turn as “flippin’ a bitch.”

These are just phrases and the English language is filled with so many more colorful ones…and new slang is being invented everyday. Get a better vocab!

Anyone remember this meme?

iggyThis meme popped up late 2012 and the quote hasn’t be verified but it is apparent that Iggy doesn’t mind wearing women’s clothing. The importance of this quote bought me to the awareness that the name calling we do by calling boys/men “little girls” is actually an insult to girls. That femininity is related to emotional or physical vulnerability. That crying is weak. That having compassion is powerless. That talking about how something affected you is insubstantial.

It sounds like an emotional prison to me. One where everyone should be broken free of.

I am a parent of two girls so I don’t know how it is to raise boys into men. But I do have a brother, nephews, babysit my friend’s boys and hosted my fair share of co-ed birthday parties. I’ve seen boys say “don’t play with that, it’s a girl’s toy.” and ask “do you have any boys toys in this house?” I’ve broken up more fights between boys than I have girls.

From what I see in my children they rarely fight with each other or their friends, they talk about their problems, they play quiet, they place nice, they rarely break things, and they are calm. They are bullied mostly by boys (started in kindergarten). When they are super emotional to the point of hysterical tears they either are in pain or someone said something mean to them and they don’t understand what they did wrong or how to fix it. Where is the insult in this? Where is being a girl sub-human?

It’s time to flip the script and not using this untrue insult that being a girl is wrong. We are pulling back society from forward progress as human beings. We are damaging our boys and girls from learning to work together. We’re pushing away the ability to discover un-stereotyped strengths in the human race. There is NO MORE divide and conquer. We must find a way to empower all our children to be the change we want to see in this world…and it can start with the words we choose to use and the words we refuse to put up with.





13 thoughts on “Why is being a girl an insult?

  1. betternotbroken says:

    Good for you, how many women do you know that say, “I am not a girl!” That is not helping feminism. While I applaud people who grow and develop into mature adults, the sentiment in such comment belies at the “women” and suggests a hidden repressed misogamy as far as I am concerned. Girls are wonderful and a blessing to the planet.

    1. splankit says:

      I do not like being called a “girl” because it’s a way of infantilizing me and it undermines respect. Certain men address me by the term “girl” as in “Girl, you look good!” This kind of cat-calling is insulting, and using the “girl” moniker assigns me a role that’s submissive. Just as young black men don’t want to be called “boy” because the word is used in certain cultures to address them, as in, “Boy, get over here!” I’m not sure why you think this isn’t helping feminism.

      1. betternotbroken says:

        I have girls as daughters, they are under 20. Do you think they have to think like a boy? Act like a boy? Throw like a boy? I know misogamy starts at an early age and it spreads to females who are undermined for their gender. Girl does not have to be an insult and I do not give power to the people who use it as such and use their interpretation of the word. That is why. Girls are A-Okay. As for not wanting to be called a girl, I myself do not care for it and in fact it is something I use as a screening when I deal with men. Girl should NOT be an insult. My children are not yet women and I am in no hurry to rush them.

  2. Terri Orndorff says:

    It’s obvious the author of this article dislikes boys/men. That’s what’s wrong with relationship between men and women. Most women spoiled, want things their way or not happy. By the way I’m a woman, and I allow men to be men without trying to outdo them. They are stronger physically and emotionally the way God intended.

    1. Kate Chaplin says:

      I respect your opinion and that you for commenting. I DO NOT dislike boys or men. I believe all human beings should be cherished and respected. I believe in healthy competition and I don’t set out to outdo men and I will never seek to do less than men. I disagree with the generalization that men are stronger physically and emotionally, there are always exceptions but in my experience on this earth so far I have seen women who are stronger physically and emotional than the men I know and vice versa. Also if it wasn’t for Mary we wouldn’t have Jesus.

    2. splankit says:

      If you’re going to accuse someone of misandry, please cite evidence. Also, saying that “most women [are] spoiled, want things their way or [are] not happy” reveals your underlying misogynistic viewpoint.

  3. Jo says:

    I was disturbed by the Iggy Pop photo. Not because he was dressed like a woman, but because of the comments attached to the photo on FB. There were hundreds of comments about the way he looked, criticizing his hair, wrinkles, dress style, dress colour – hundreds! A normal Iggy Pop photo would have had none of those comments. It would have been about his music or something he’d done. As soon as he put on a dress – it was as though that gave everyone permission to criticize. Eye-opening.

  4. Andrew says:

    Great article. These ‘insults’ were used on me as a young boy and I could never figure out why women weren’t good enough. Every now and then I still get this and my reply? “So your mum/sister is worthless is she? They stumble and say “Oh, no! I mean that….um.” Gets them every time.

  5. davedale says:

    Girls are weaker than men physically. There, I said it. Before you start screaming and get hysterical, I know there are different kinds of strength, including mental, which I am not talking about here.
    It’s fine if you actually ARE a girl, you get a pass. However, if you are a boy and you act like a girl your life will be a living hell. You will have no friends, be teased and bullied, and will be a high risk for suicide.

    However, if you are a girl and are good looking and act like a girl, you will be accepted, in some cases worshiped. What part of this don’t you get? It is only an insult to be called a girl IF YOU ARE NOT ONE. If you are a girl, saying you are girly should be a compliment as it is attractive.
    True, women have some difficult responsibilities men do not have, like carrying a baby to term while staying drug and disease free, and induring painful labor. Just as men have responsibilities women do not have, like going into the line of fire if their tribe asks them to.

    Men do the majority of the most difficult, unpleasant and dangerous jobs. Being credited for being stronger is a small price to pay, believe me. As a woman you should stop complaining about it and look at all the advantages you have. If you had to indure one day of a man’s life believe me, you would go RUNNING back to the protective bubble of being all women, in which you can never be touched no matter how rude or obnoxious you choose to be.

    Men are the ones who are more often portrayed negatively in TV and film. If a male character insults a woman or a child he will be serverly punished later in the film . However, women put men down all the time in movies. The message to young boys is “only women and children deserve respect”. Ever notice how badly our young men are doing as they enter adulthood?. Many, perhaps soon most., stay home and don’t work or go to school into their 30s and beyond. Why should they? Work their ass of and still get no respect, why bother?
    Notice we have a severe housing shortage because there is a shortage of workers in the skilled trades, i.e. men, so what they do is not incredibly expensive . A house that cost 3000 dollars to build in the 20s might cost 3 million dollars today, inflated way beyond regular inflation. Shop classes in high schools have disappeared almost completely as education has been feminized, now all the liberal arts degrees in the world can’t build enough housing. We need to start revaluing men and what they do, and stop sneering at the guys who get their hands dirty. We need the result of their work, otherwise the housing shortage is going to get much , much worse . “Women will rule the world until the oil needs to be changed”

  6. Andrew McDonald says:

    To be honest… Most of the comments I hear from adults to children come from women—from mothers to their own sons! It is horrifying to me. this misogyny is so programmed into us that mothers become among the primary anti-girl gender police, quick to correct their boys away from any all things even remotely perceived as “girlish”. When my boys were younger I heard and saw it all the time! Color choices—and I’m not even talking pink (God forbid), hair length and toy choices were the big three. OMG. When I was young the boys picked on me a lot for being “just like a girl”, but it was other girls who really humiliated me and actually hurt me more, I think because they were rejecting me in a way that differed from the boys put downs. It was like they were seeing something of them in me and totally rejecting it as worthless, and in the process invalidating my humanity. To the boys I didn’t measure up as a boy so I was a girl. To the girls I wasn’t a boy, but being a girl made me disgusting so I was rejected from that because for a boy to be like them was not acceptable.

  7. Anna says:

    In can see why someone would tell you to “grow a pair.” You come across as incredibly spoiled and whiny.

    Anyway, way to combat negative stereotypes about the female gender by embodying all of them at the same time. You go girl!

    1. Andrew McDonald says:

      Was that response meant for me? If so I’m not sure if it was meant as an insult or compliment. Personally I thing embodying characteristics normally associated with females is awesome—even as a guy. And, since I’m older and not as worried about measuring up and I’m not scared of being beaten up or humiliated, I’m totally cool with being called a girl or told that I am feminine. Just don’t call me a sissy or effeminate, I hate those words :-). Peace!

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