Friday, June 27, 2014


Like many women I know, I was told repeatedly by my older brother growing up that I threw a softball "like a girl"— despite turning in an impressive season many years later as shortstop for a co-ed softball team I organized at the University of Hawaii, while there on an international reporting fellowship.

That phrase continues to catch my attention, and I heard it again the other night, after leaving a movie at NYC's Film Forum. There, on the street near the subway, I overheard two men accusing a third of "acting like a girl" during an argument that would soon turn into a fistfight. I stopped myself from shouting, to anyone in particular, "What's so bad about acting like a girl?"

Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield and her new three-minute cause video out this month, called #LikeAGirl, has saved me the trouble. Greenfield, who directed the 2012 documentary, Queen of Versailles, was commissioned by feminine hygiene brand, Always, to make the video as part of the company's CSR initiatives. Watched by more than 40 million people on YouTube since it launched last month, the video has sparked a new national conversation on female empowerment and self-esteem.

"Always was interested in looking into how girls deal with the confidence crisis that happens around puberty," Greenfield told CauseGlobal. "Everyone knows that 'crying like a girl' or 'running like a girl' isn't a compliment, but no one takes the off-the-cuff remark too seriously or considers its damage."  Greenfield said she came up with the idea of asking a handful of adults, for her camera, to imitate running, throwing and fighting "like a girl." The results are predictable, but the surprising part comes when Greenfield later asks young girls the same questions.

Have a look. When was the last time you used or heard the phrase? How did you feel when you said or heard it?

-- Marcia Stepanek

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