Fight Like a Girl
Normally, I’m a big fan of not altering language in order to be politically correct. I don’t like hurting peoples’ feelings, and I wouldn’t purposefully use demeaning language, but I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and obviously I’m a proponent storytelling and using language to entertain. I love comedic writing in particular, and I think it would be sad indeed if everyone conformed to a standard of speech just to be sure not to offend a certain group of people.
At the same time, I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Possibly, it’s because I was raised in an unequivocally feminist environment – my mother and sister were proud self-labeling feminists, my school, Georgetown Day, practically gave you college credit for being a card-carrying feminist (I was president of the Women’s Issues group one year – AKA, padding the extra currics for college acceptance!) and in college I continued to follow in my big sister’s footsteps by volunteering at the Yale Women’s Center.
The English language makes it difficult to be gender-inclusive when talking about people in general… “he” is usually the easiest default when talking about a person. It gets too messy to start saying “he or she may decide to take his or her blah blah blah…” This used to bother me more when I was younger, but not so much any more – so either I’ve just gotten used to it or I’m less “radically feminist” than I used to be… or both.
But something happened the other day that really did bug me. My 5 year old daughter started karate class a couple of months ago, and already she is amazing at it & totally dedicated, taking class three days a week and practicing at home. Her teacher is a woman, and I was particularly happy that she had such a cool ‘girl’ role model for her chosen sport – a sport which, like most, is usually male-dominated.
Anyway, the thing that bugged me? Racheli proudly showed off her latest punch (twist at the wrist – JAB! RETRACT! Sucker never saw it coming.) then boasted that she doesn’t “punch like a girl.”
I asked her to elaborate, and she did: apparently, her teacher told them all that they’d “better not punch like a girl” and Racheli, ever the good sensei-in-training, took it to heart. She told me proudly she punched like a boy.
In other words, her (girl) teacher was drilling it into my 5 year old (girl)’s brain that a GIRL PUNCH IS LAME.
My 5 year old punches like a pro, and… SHE’S A GIRL. Duh.
Time to get a new lexicon, people!
I’ve written about my beef with the word “woman” (which is why I named this blog The GrownupGirl) and now I have another war to wage: let’s all stop telling girls and boys ‘not to fight like a girl,’ okay? Because if my daughter is any indication, girls can be pretty rad fighters.