Tag Archives: gender equality


Like A Girl and Femvertisement


One of my favorite kid movies growing up was the Sandlot. There is nary a harsh word I could say about this universally beloved film about baseball, childhood scares, adolescence and team bonding. A movie filled with dramatic rises, one of the epic, drop-the-mic moments occurs when the sandlot crew engages with a rival baseball team. A smack talk battle ensues between the rival star and Hamilton ‘Ham’ Porter, as shown here (jump to 0:59)

The shouting match culminates in the Ham’s game changing insult telling to the rival, “you play ball like a girl!” Silence covers both teams as the claim is perceived as the ultimate insult, resulting in disbelief and a challenge on the diamond the next day. The fact that this insult, “like a girl”, was used as the device to shift the narrative forward never seemed to bother me, or something that I thought about too much. However, something troubled me after I watched this video:

The video, released this summer by the female care brand Always, is a part of their #LikeAGirl advertising campaign. It is part of a rising trend in what is called femvertising, where ads focus on female empowerment. While seemingly bold, femvertising allows companies like Always to double down on both sending a powerful message and positive marketing, receiving millions of views on YouTube.

In this video, adolescent and adult males and females are asked to interpret what it means to be “like a girl” such as in the act of throwing ball. Both genders laugh at themselves, having fun imitating the throwing motion they perceive to be like a girl’s. The throwing motions of the participants is depicted unanimously as weak, ditzy and non-athletic.

The camera crew then shifts to a younger group of female girls who we are led to assume have not formed the notion of what to be like a girl is. When asked to interpet actions like a girl, the contrast from the older group is stark. Gone are the timid throwing motions and uncoordinated running motions, the lackadaisical punches. The throws are clean, forceful motions, their runs are explosive, their punches fully extended like they were taking a martial arts class. The message is clear: people don’t understand how to throw “like a girl” until greater society tells them. This video challenges what “like a girl” really means.

Although public opinion and cultural shifts among the younger generations has certainly influenced the rise of femvertising, it has seemingly struck a chord with women of all ages. SheKnows Media conducted a femvertising survey with over 600 women, with results showing 91% of those surveyed believing that “how women are portrayed in advertising has a direct impact on girls’ self-esteem.” The study indicated a bevy of other percentage stats, including:

  • “51% of women like pro-female ads because they believe they break down gender-equality barriers.
  • 81% said ads that positively portray women are important for younger generations to see.
  • 71% of respondents think brands should be responsible for using advertising to promote positive messages to women and girls.
  • 62% think any brand can enter the pro-female advertising space.
  • 94% believe portraying women as sex symbols in advertisements is harmful.
  • Just over half of those who responded said they have bought a product because they liked how the brand and their advertising portrays women.
  • 46% have followed a brand in social media because they like what the company stands for.”

After watching this video and coming to understand the rise of femvertisement, it’s hard not to look back at The Sandlot and that defining insult differently, no matter how cherished the movie will always be in my childhood memory. That moment both highlights the cultural acceptance at the time of a girl’s perceived weakness, as well as the ongoing gender equality issue we deal with today. Perceiving women on even footing with men is a powerful change this #likeagirl conversation is seeking. Should this completely ruin your fondness for nostalgic movies like The Sandlot? No it shouldn’t. However, the next time you hear or are about to say something along the lines of “like a girl”, it should give you something to think about, what that really means, what you or someone else are really saying about women.



Celebrating Day of the Girl


In these modern times it seems every day of the year is dedicated to some cause, movement or idea, that builds a social media frenzy before whittling back into the sea of current events. While all these ideas are noteworthy, celebrating Day of the Girl 2013 is about one of those oft-overlooked, paramount issues in our global society that deserves far more than one day of celebration. Gender equality and sexual discrimination are problems that have persisted through centuries of human history, across cultures worldwide, placing women at a disadvantage in both developing and developed countries alike. The role of women in our society, simply put, is one of the most fundamental issues we are so slowly facing in our world today.

The United Nations Day of the Girl was founded only recently in 2012 after a successful campaign led by School Girls Unite, an organization made up of students and young women leaders determined to realize the United Nations Millenium Development Goals related to gender equality and basic universal education. Their stated mission goal is: to “highlight, discuss, celebrate and ultimately advance girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe.” Addressing the neglect and devaluation of women worldwide is at the heart of this awareness campaign.

The focus of this year’s Day of the Girl is on education. The emphasis on “innovating for girls education” is acknowledgment that knowledge is one of the most powerful tools you can have, especially for women. In the words of Kakenya Ntaiya, “An educated girl will delay marriage, she is more likely to have fewer children, her children are more likely to go to school, and she will contribute to the economy of her country.” In light of these concepts, education is obviously something we take for granted. While our education system is considerably underfunded and ripe for improvement, what we have remains an opportunity tens of millions of young girls around the globe are denied access to. We should remember that despite our progress, there are so many achievements yet to be made as a global community, and educating girls on an equal plane as boys is a crucial cog in that universal progress.

Celebrating Day of the Girl encompasses not just advocacy for the education of girls, but also strengthening our own awareness. We must make the effort to take action, come to understand the gender role disparities deeply rooted in our social consciousness. It is up to us to ensure this Day of the Girl grows past this one day of recognition into a substantial matter across the globe. For all the problems facing girls, and they are numerous (violence against women, forced marriage, less rights, denied access to education, lack of economic opportunity, among others) understanding the incredible value that can be gained by placing  them on equal footing as their male counterparts is the best step towards positively transforming our society in ways that we have yet to imagine.