Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Like a Girl" and Proud of It

Ohhh Morgan Rielly. Most of the country already hates the Leafs. Why are you making it even easier to hate them?

On February 20th, 2015, Reilly of the Toronto Maple Leafs was asked by a reporter to describe what it was like going through yet another Leafs' seasonal debacle. His response, as captured above, sparked a lively debate on social media due his use of the word "girl" with a negative connotation attached to it.

The popularity of the phrase "like a girl" is so common in society, that many of us don't even think twice when we use it in conversation. Even as girls and as women, it has taken time for us to realize that behind that phrase is an insult; one that is as offensive as any racial or gender-based slur that society has worked to eliminate from our vocabularies. Only now is there a push for public awareness and change around using this phrase. As the Always - #LikeAGirl campaign asks: "when did doing something 'like a girl' become an insult?"

Dumping on the Leafs is a national pastime in Canada. The cliche is true - we ride our sleds to Tim Horton's, buy a Double Double and a donut, and we sit there and bash the Leafs all day long. And let's be honest, the Leafs have given us a lot of material to cover in recent years. So maybe Morgan Rielly's comments garnered an unfair amount of attention. Tons of people still say things like "you hit like a girl" or "stop being such a girl." They do not incite a national debate on social media and on the airwaves of national TV and radio about it. Rielly did. Because Reilly is a role model. By virtue of the fact that Morgan Reilly is a hockey player on one of the league's most storied franchises, when Reilly or his team mates talk, people listen. Kids listen. And kids imitate. 

We grew up on the phrase "like a girl" being an insult. But for the next generation of young women to grow up with that phrase carrying the same connotation would be a shame, because it would mean that we haven't made any progress. And that is not true, because we all know how much progress has been made. We are all athletes. We see examples of physical and mental toughness all around us in our team mates, opponents, coaches, and in ourselves. We see it in our bosses and in women in positions of leadership and power everyday. People say it all the time: "women are more emotional than men." And again, they say it like that's a bad thing. In reality, emotion, passion, commitment, loyalty, care, compassion, and love are all qualities that go a long way in the world. They create a less clinical and more cohesive environment to work in. And women don't take anything for granted. We work hard every day to represent ourselves and our fellow women, because we know that one wrong step can set everything back by a decade. 

This article isn't mean to rag on Morgan Reilly. That's been done...a lot. It is meant to make all of us think twice when we use negative phrases in everyday conversation. It is about changing our mindset to being proud of who we are and about honing our skills as women. All of these traits that have been seen as negatives and as drawbacks in the past are actually great traits to have. And if there was any doubt about what women are capable of achieving, just remember that Morgan Reilly's comments came on the one-year anniversary of this: