February 23, 2014 by Holly
The other day, I was having a conversation with someone about shoes. He had just bought a new pair, and whilst the items had looked great in the shop, were very much in style and had been stocked in the colour that he’d wanted, on bringing them home he had discovered he could barely wear them for ten minutes at a time, let alone a day. The shoes were so agonising that he’d had to push them off halfway through a meal and even then his feet were sore. It was at this point, after complaining about the problem for a few minutes, that the individual remarked: “I feel like such a woman”.
This struck a chord with me.
I’m not entirely sure if I was or still am overreacting, but I can’t help consider the implications of such a comment. Although the remark slipped casually into play and the conversation continued, surely it’s statements like these which help to reinforce gender roles that don’t necessarily have a place in modern society.
The individual to whom I was speaking is both intelligent and (to my knowledge) modern-thinking so I have no doubt that what he said was spoken with innocent intentions. However, it raises the question as to what this kind of comment can imply about how women are viewed in societies today. By likening himself to a woman, the man I was speaking to was trying (through intention or not) to portray himself as weak or less-able. This is evidently not a fair representation of the female gender in 2014, yet attitudes such as these have become commonplace in everyday life to the extent that any misunderstandings are not always picked up on. In honesty, I find it sad that views like these are allowed to slip under the radar because people in general are not aware that anything they are doing or saying is wrong.
The beginning of Madonna’s ‘What it feels like for a girl’ sums my feelings up perfectly. A part of the spoken section goes:
Girls can wear jeans, And cut their hair short, Wear shirts and boots, ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy, But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
‘What it feels like for a girl’ might have faced mixed reviews from critics, but the opening entry does justice in my mind for the light it sheds on the modern interpretation of what it is to be a girl. Whilst girls are allowed to act in a way which is deemed ‘boyish’, for a boy to declare himself an avid fan of Barbies or wear pink clothes would be seen as a sign of weakness or ‘girliness’. The term has come to be seen as something which defines girls in their purest form – glitter, pink, feathers and makeup. Each element is acceptable individually, but when someone is seen to have an interest in all of them put together, they are deemed as ‘girly’.
A ‘girly girl’ is slang term for a girl or woman who chooses to behave in an especially feminine style, such as wearing pink, using make-up, using perfume and dressing in skirts and dresses. Though there is nothing evidently wrong with a person classing themselves as ‘girly’, it can often be seen as a sign of weakness to the people around them, particularly if the person is a man. The whole concept that to dress or behave like a (stereotypical) woman is degrading promotes the school of thought that women are less able or inadequate when compared to men, which is definitely not OK.
Or that’s what I think.
This has been ‘To Be a Girl’, with me, le souris, and the rest of you out there on the internet.