#LikeABoy Shows We Still Have a Ways to Go for Gender Equality

Darick Holden – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

The most recent Super Bowl went about without too much controversy.  There was the so-called “Deflate-Gate” scandal which haunted the New England Patriots in the weeks leading up to the big game.  There were also questions regarding a last minute play selection that may or may not, depending on if you ask a Seattle or New England fan, have cost the Seattle Seahawks a second consecutive Super Bowl victory. Even the miniature brawl that occurred in the waning seconds of the game that led to multiple ejections wasn’t seen as too controversial, rather it was one of the commercials, which the Super Bowl has become known for, that seemed to cause the most derisive controversy about the game.

The commercial at issue was for the Always brand of feminine hygiene products and it constituted a director asking a group of young adult men and women what it meant to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl”.  The adult groups proceeded to respond in a stereotypical way.  The director than asked several young girls the same things and they proceeded to run in a “normal” way, and one of the little girls explaining that running like a girl means “to run as fast as I can”.  The purpose of the commercial was to question how doing something “like a girl” became an insult and to empower young girls to embrace being a girl. This commercial seemed to have the most social buzz, reaching approximately 400,000 mentions on social media [1] even making #LikeAGirl a trending a topic on Twitter.

Not everyone appreciated the women empowering message, in particular several men were not fans. Shortly after #LikeAGirl became a trending topic, #LikeABoy started popping up and became a trending topic on Twitter as well. [2] These so-called “Meninists” complained on Twitter and other social media platforms, arguing that the commercial is sexist because there is not an equal “like a boy” ad airing.  Several men took to Twitter to proclaim that the commercial is “the most insulting commercial ever and there better be a #likeaboy commercial” and even a self-proclaimed “meninist” stated that “hopefully one day us men can have equality and treated the same”.[3]

These “meninists” fail to understand what the #LikeAGirl commercial was intended to do, even though it is laid out pretty obviously in the commercial.  The commercial states that upon reaching puberty a girl’s self-esteem plummets and one such way it manifests itself is through veiled insults that seem to pervade through our society.  The commercial seeks to empower women to take back the term “like a girl” and use it as a sense of strength.  These men who were up in arms over the one ad about girls that took place during a four hour event that celebrated masculinity failed to see the obvious message the commercial was stating.  They also fail to understand the difference that “like a boy” has never been used as an insult against men the same way that “like a girl” has been used against women.

While the #LikeABoy movement shows that we still have a significant portion of our population who don’t quite get gender equality, we have made tremendous strides in the area.  The commercial was the first commercial advertising a feminine hygiene product to air during the Super Bowl, among the beer and buxom babe ads.[4]  We as a society may not be where we should be with regards to gender equality, but we are still making significant strides.

[1] Perez, Sarah, P&G’s #LikeAGirl Ad Scored The Most Social Buzz During Super Bowl, Tech Crunch (Feb. 01, 2015), http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/01/pgs-likeagirl-ad-scored-the-most-social-buzz-during-super-bowl-2015/.

[2] O’Neil, Lorena, Super Bowl: #LikeABoy Trends as ‘Meninists’ React to #LikeAGirl Ad, The Hollywood Reporter (Feb. 01, 2015), http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/super-bowl-likeaboy-trends-as-769015.

[3] Id.

[4] Philips, Victoria, #LikeAGirl Ad Heading To The Super Bowl, Refinery29 (Jan 31, 2015), http://www.refinery29.com/2015/01/81603/always-campaign-first-feminine-product-ad-super-bowl.

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