Does The Phrase “Like a Girl” Hurt Women?

by Self-Knowledge, Sexuality and Chastity

This video brings up a topic that hits close to home for many women in today’s society, as can be seen by the fact that it got over 10 million views in just the first 4 days of being posted. The question it begs is this: what does it truly mean to be a girl, to be a woman? What does it mean to do something “like a girl”?

The reactions of the women and men in the first part who were asked to perform the actions of “run like a girl,” “fight like a girl,” or “hit like a girl,” reveal a deep-seeded misconception in our society. The phrase “like a girl,” often used as a joke, gives the implication that to be feminine means to be weak or inferior.

Although there are many good things that the feminist movement can be credited for, one of the more concerning tendencies is to compare a woman’s equality with her capacity to be like a man, and to do things in the way that a man would do them. Because of this, there are sadly a lot of girls who grow up ashamed of their femininity, and believe as they reach adulthood that their unique feminine characteristics are deficiencies.

Like a Girl

In a June 29 interview with Italian daily “Il Messegero,” Pope Francis again referred to the necessity of developing a new “theology of women,” as he often has in the past. When asked by the journalist conducting the interview about this topic, the Pope explained that without an understanding of true femininity, one “cannot understand the Church herself.”

Women “are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is a woman,” he explained, pointing out how the Church, as the spouse of Christ, is always spoken of in the feminine form. He emphasized that in performing the work of theology it is always necessary to take this “femininity” into account, and advocated the continued exploration of this new theology.

What Pope Francis is again saying, and what the Church has taught from its beginning’s, is that women are valuable, but valuable as women, valuable because of what Saint John Paul II termed the “feminine genius.”

Only by embracing these unique characteristics and cherishing them for the gifts that they are will the woman be elevated. Otherwise she is crushed.

On the other side, this stigma is not static: the push for women to become more like men in order to succeed also has an implication for men, who, when faced by a quasi-aggression coming from women, can tend to compromise their own masculinity by an over-emphasis of their “feminine side.”

Men and women are in fact complimentary to each other just the way that they are, if they each truly live according to the way they have been created. Another common mistake in modern feminist rhetoric is equate “equality” with being “the same.” Men and women, although different, have been created equal in dignity, and in their complementarity they give each other a balance through their differences.

Thinking like an apostle:

An activity that could be helpful if you are leading a small group is to divide the youth into boys and girls. Ask the girls what they thought of the video, and have them compare doing something “like a girl” with what girls are actually like. The boys could have a similar discussion, being asked if they themselves have the perception that girls are weak, and can search for ways to affirm women in their femininity.

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