Little Steps Toward Big Progress

Little Steps Toward Big Progress

I was unfortunately blessed with the athleticism of a baby panda bear. But, when it’s game time, I muster up the heart of an entire underdog high school football team and try my best.

I like to spend time outside playing sports and grew up with all brothers, often finding myself benched because I “threw like a girl.” Even some of the neighborhood girls who were more athletic than me would chime in on the ridicule.

When I ran back into the house, feeling discouraged and left out, my mom would comfort me and reroute me to a more gender-suitable activity like playing with Barbie dolls.

The aforementioned sequence of events is a common occurrence: a girl attempts to partake in a traditionally male activity, is discouraged by her male or female peers and then falls back on a more traditionally female activity.

In order to stand up for equal rights and garner a more gender-balanced society, we have to start small, ridding our lives of negative nuances like “she throws like a girl,” “she’s probably PMSing,” or “quit being such a girl.”

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of saying phrases like this. I’ve apologized for being emotional, blaming my gender for it. When a friend or family member complains about something, I’ve told him or her to “quit being such a girl.”

These phrases shoot out of our mouths so frequently that we don’t think about how they tear women down. Quit being such a girl? This phrase directly correlates annoying or weak behavior with the female gender so that “girl” becomes synonymous with “weak.” The phrase, “I’m probably just PMSing,” assumes that irrational thought processes or emotions are something unique to those with a uterus—which, believe me, are not.

I may throw poorly, but that does not mean I throw like a girl. I have plenty of female friends with incredible arms and on the other hand, I know plenty of men who throw poorly as well.

Picture the social gender imbalance like an old fashioned scale with two sides. These little comments and phrases are like rocks, weighing down one side of the scale. We have to stop saying them and stop passively agreeing with them.

While they may seem trivial or passing, they are small pieces that add weight to the male side of the scale, creating an imbalance for women. By eliminating these phrases from our lives, we slowly start to level this out. As my dad always said, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.” Little efforts like avoiding these phrases will have big long-term effects on the social gender imbalance.