“You throw like a girl”, is a phrase I’d often heard growing up. Not because I am a girl or anything, but because I, specifically, I’m just not very athletic.
But surprisingly enough no one’s ever called me out on my brilliant culinary skills and told me that I cook like a girl.
Although, I have heard that I eat a lot… for a girl.
While I love being constantly reminded that I’m a girl, you know, just in case I forget, I don’t see why it’s necessary.
When you add “for a girl” at the end of every one of your sentences, you’re limiting my greatness to the amount that my gender allows.
You’re saying that I’m only as good as I can be at something, because I’m a girl.
But while I’m not very athletic, you know who is? Serena Williams, Simone Biles and Ronda Rousey.
I think quite often we say things and don’t really realise their impact.
But this can be quite damaging if we consider how it might hinder on someone else’s progress or even their belief in themselves.
The things we say might actually even be, dare I say it, sexist. Huff post did a video showing 48 things women hear in a lifetime (that men just don't). Take a look:
And 48 things men hear in a lifetime (that are bad for everyone):
According to the research done by Marjorie Rhodes from New York University, by 6 years old, girls already start avoiding particular activities because they feel that they aren’t smart enough to partake in them.
Similarly, white children tend to think that, from as early as the age of three, people of colour are angrier, or rather, have angrier faces.
This has a lot to do with the things we say to children, and the stereotypes they develop from what we say. Rhodes explains:
“For young children, how we speak is often more important than what we say. Generalisations, even if they say only things that are positive or neutral, such as 'Girls can be anything they want,' 'Hispanics live in the Bronx' or 'Muslims eat different foods,' communicate that we can tell what someone is like just by knowing her gender, ethnicity or religion.'”
Rhodes therefore suggests that instead of making grand generalisations when speaking to younger children, one should use specifics and say, “Her family is Hispanic and lives in the Bronx,” and “This Muslim family eats different foods”.
- Read more about Rhodes's research: These Zarpies: avoiding stereotypes when talking to kids
This will then also help children understand that they shouldn’t base the way they interact with others and even the things they say on someone’s race or gender.
Because while this girl isn’t very good at throwing because she is not very athletic, many others are. Just as she is really good at cooking and many other girls aren’t.
So I propose we change not the way we talk to children, teenagers and just about every one around us, but the very things we say.
Because I’d like to think that I am actually pretty smart… for a girl.
- African girls don't suck at maths and science
- This is how Britain’s first gender-fluid family is raising their son
- Why do we still make girls wear skirts and dresses as school uniform?
Have you ever been told you can or can't do something because of your gender? Tell us by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish your comments.
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