Throwing ‘like a girl’ is not an insult!

Published: July 13, 2014

If you haven’t seen the new advertisement from the Procter and Gamble-owned Always, then you need to see it. This advert, which explores what it means to do something ‘like a girl’, topped the Campaign Viral Chart, bumping Activia’s Shakira video off the first place. It has been shared 536,519 times in the last few days, and it is definitely something everyone should watch.

Directed by the award winning filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield, who also directed the famous documentary, The Queen of Versailles, this commercial begins with a bunch of grownups entering the studio and being asked to demonstrate how to run, fight and throw like a girl. And the result is what you would expect: they start running, throwing and fighting inefficiently, showing weakness in all their movements.

Then a bunch of young girls are asked to do the same thing, and they, unlike the adults, throw and run powerfully. When one of the little girls is asked if doing something like a girl is a bad thing or a good thing, she replies saying that she doesn’t know what it means, but that,

“It sounds like you are trying to humiliate someone”.

Another young girl said that “running like a girl” means “to run really fast”. This goes to show, as the ad points out, that these little girls are too young and innocent to understand the pejorative connotations our society attaches with the phrase “like a girl”.

Then, the commercial asks the original group to reconsider, and this time, they run, fight and throw normally instead of moving shoddily. One woman at the end apologises and says she would run like herself if she was asked to run like a girl ever again. That moment was indeed heart-warming and that was when I vowed that I will never take this phrase as an insult again.

Throughout my teenage years, I have heard people use the “you do XYZ thing like a girl” taunt over just about any and everything. I remember when I first started playing throw ball at my school, I was told by my instructor that I should stop throwing like a girl, or else, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the school team. Then, when I started taking driving classes from a local driving school, I struggled a lot, and was particularly scared of roundabouts. After a couple of classes, my driving instructor asked me to man up, and not “chicken out” like a girl. He would try to be funny, and tell me how majority of the accidents in Karachi take place because women have started driving more frequently.

At a young age, I didn’t quite understand what this term meant, but eventually, I started feeling embarrassed every time someone would tell me that I do something like a girl. The saddest part arrived when this derogatory statement became a part of my everyday language, and I started using it as well. I would use “like a girl” to refer to something incorrect, weak, and idiotic without realising that I was disgracing myself by doing so. What I didn’t understand is that when you tell someone that she is throwing like a girl, you are telling her she is doing it incorrectly, and the correct way to do it is to throw “like a boy”.

There is a pejorative undertone which is attached with the statement “like a girl”, and this is a taunt based on gender differences. You are indirectly telling girls that they are not as skilled as boys and are inferior to them. By doing so, you are not only making them feel uncomfortable about their own gender, but you are also shattering their self-confidence. And this is exactly what the video made me realise. It served as an eye-opener, and made me take a step back and reconsider my actions.

Don’t get me wrong here; I am not trying to promote a particular brand. These companies are essentially profit motivated and they are willing to say or do anything that makes you buy their products. These women empowerment campaigns in brands are nothing new: some want you to stop apologising and ‘shine strong’, while others wants you to ‘feel beautiful’, and so on and so forth. Even though these adverts, in my opinion, are just a source of making money, I would rather have such commercials than those which support the sexist status-quo and make you take a shame-based guilt trip.


Ramsha Wasti

Ramsha Wasti

19. Foodie. Moody. Reading is my escape. Avid debater. A YES alumna, an AIESECer, and an intern at the Express Tribune. She tweets as @Wastiiii (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Supriya Arcot

    I for one think there is nothing wrong in ” throwing like a girl “. Girls are physically weaker than boys . Therefore their throw is more light and delicate than the boys’ . Why should it be an insult FGS . If I call a girl a tomboy , then is that a compliment or an insult ? For me ( I am a girl. ) it would be the latter . If I tell a boy that u dance like a girl or u climb mountains like a man is that praise or censure ? In both cases it’s praise .Recommend

  • shehzad

    The saying comes from the fact that men generally are physically stronger and hence their throws would be strong. I don’t really see anything wrong with this but of course there will be some nowadays who would cry foul while this term will continue to be used the world over also. This is one of those things that we should perhaps lighten about. Afterall, could you really ask a girl to throw like shoaib akhtar or kick like messi? Having said that, girls should be compared with other girls instead of boys in this respect, I can understand why this saying could be offensive to perhaps it should be phased out over time.Recommend

  • sidjeen

    its a fantastic ad. it always made me wonder why female athletes in the west whether playing football or hockey or any other sport looked more athletic and fit than women in our country. now granted that the prejudice is very much in place in the west as well as this ad points out but when considered comparatively they are still better off. i wish we could also start educating our society about these issues, believe me life will be so much better if our society has strong confident women in abundance.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    cool blog. Well written. well done. It gets the massage across without being overly feminist and ” in your face”. However seeing that 90% of the public will take affront from even the slightest feminist writing, I will advise you not to check back in the comments section for the nest three or four weeks, or perhaps indefinitely as heavy trolling is expected.Recommend

  • Guest

    I agree ma’am, stopping or discouraging a woman from what she is made quite capable of doing by the Allah Almighty, is to go against the will of Allah. A woman is blessed with the same body organs as a man, so she is free to read, speak, write, think, run, play, compete and lead like him, and even better..!Recommend

  • Abbas

    I agree ma’am, stopping or discouraging a woman from what she is made quite capable of doing by the Allah Almighty is to go against the will of Allah. A woman is blessed with the same body organs as a man, so she is free to read, speak, write, think, run, play, compete and lead like him, and, at times, even better..!Recommend

  • 2#

    Good composition, considering your age. Keep it upRecommend

  • torch wala phone

    so you are the “only” sane person here assuming “trolling’ from 90% (insane) public….get a life baby !Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    already got one. do try to look up the correct usage of the phrase “get a life baby” .Recommend

  • Assh

    as usual “always” has released a beautiful video which is set out to inspire all young girlsRecommend

  • pacm

    feminism is rife in the west, let them do and think what they want, why bother?…
    throwing like a girl, cussing like a sailor, vandalizing like Gullu butt, these are all there for valid reason, why these feminists think they are bad?…And ‘as good as boys’ is not a phrase anybody uses or thinks or discusses , due to obvious rational reasons, so please dont “rationalize like a girl” ;)Recommend

  • roster

    One should think what feminazis gave the West?Recommend

  • Kahut

    There is nothing wrong in girls. Its just how they are . They are physically not robust like men , but its not their fault and there is no need to compare them to boys . U don’t hv to catch up to everything with the boys .Recommend

  • chillipepper

    nice ad,, specially the guy in green shirt “32” he acted so well,,, lol
    my opinion?? i love when ppl utter for me “she acts like a girl” and i would hate the day when they would say “she can never act like a girl” .m a girl and that’s what makes me proud of… although i attended seminars alone,, i do job ,sometimes i hv to attend a foreign Deligation ,with that i know there are few things which can be done better by men n i admit that,,i love confidence and courage in girls n that should be like a “man” in a girl but i love disturbing my brother for every petty issue..i love how male members of my family caRE fo me when m going alone my brother accompanies me ,,i know i do not drive as good as my brother i kno i cant score more in a computer game than him…i loved the way he used to accompany me standing in sunshine for so long waiting for my university bus..i love being fragile,delicate and sophisticated that’s what makes me a girl…Recommend

  • Mahad Shahbaz

    dude did u just upvote your own comment? thats a new low levelRecommend

  • Samuel Niaz

    This campaign needs to translated in URDU and aired on all channels. We have been talking about abuse and assault on women and the vulnerable and it has taken us nowhere. This as needs to target the parents that their daughters are not inferior. A strong woman = a strong society.Recommend