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February 2 2015

Is "Running Like a Girl" the New "Ban Bossy?"

Charlotte Allen

Memo to feminist propagandists: If your point in making a preachy Super Bowl commercial is to debunk the stereotype “Run like a girl,” it would really help your cause if you didn’t show all your characters running like girls.

Here’s what viewers are supposed to think about the above (taken from the YouTube caption):

“For young girls, confidence plummets during puberty and many never fully recover. Always is on an epic battle to end that by changing the meaning of the phrase #LikeAGirl from an insult to mean downright amazing things.”

Here’s what viewers actually thought (at least the ones at my house, who ranged in age from 17 to 71):

“Yup, they’re running like girls!”

Also:

“What’s this all about? I thought Super Bowl commercials were supposed to be fun!”

One of the problems with stereotypes is that they’re actually pretty accurate—or else they wouldn’t be stereotypes. Math really is hard—unless you’re an outlier. Women really are worse drivers than men overall. They really do love shoes. So if you want to debunk a stereotype, it’s probably best not to get too deeply into that stereotype in the first place, else you reinforce it.

USA Today called the ad “one of the best, most important commercials that will air during the Super Bowl.” My own theory is that “Like a Girl” is the new “Ban Bossy.” The aim is that if you can get people to stop giving something a name, the thing itself will stop being true. And at the very least, you can force people, via social sanctions, to stop saying it. The aim of “Like a Girl” isn’t to raise girls’ self-esteem. It’s to police speech.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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