Women’s Day Salute Fails misogyny! (Get it? It fails not just miserably, but misogynyably, ut that’s not a word)
August 9 was National Women’s Day in South Africa. It was created to commemorate the 1956 march of 20,000 trailblazing women who were fighting legislation requiring black South African’s to carry a special identification documents (WATCH and LEARN more).
Sadly, Bic South Africa really failed in celebrating women with their message of “Look like a girl, Act like a lady, Think like a man, Work like a boss” (READ more).
Though this story is a bit dated, the media predictably jumped hard against the “think like a man” line. However, I took issue with each and every one of those lines…because they all suck.
“Look like a girl”
I honestly have no idea what this means. Are females being encouraged to strive for a young look because an older look is bad? Do we need to hide our age because society thinks looking like “girl” is the desired standard for females? I won’t even go into the way this can be interpreted to push for sexualization of children…
How about we just encourage people to look how they want to look? When you tell me to look like I girl, I am left searching for what defines “girl.” I look at the people around me, the city I live in, examine things through my worldview, but more often than not, I will fall into the cultural view of what is “girl.” And when I reach that point, I am no longer thinking about how I, myself, want me to look. Rather, I am thinking about how I need to fit into a defined mold that though matter hard I try, I can’t ever fit into because frankly, it keeps changing. Think about what was “girly” in the 1500’s…pale skin and a larger frame vs. today’s desire of a more tan and skinny frame. Bic, how about you encourage me to look how I want to look? That way I can learn to feel comfortable with who I am, who I choose to be, how I want to carry myself and how I think I should look? Because when it comes down to it, don’t we want everyone to learn how to look like they want to look? The awesomely created version of each individual person?
“Act like a lady”
Alright “ladies” – when was the last time you heard this? Were you misbehaving? Were you not being quiet and composed? Were you not acting prim and proper? Probably so… And no matter how hard I try, that is the image that comes up in my mind. Growing up in the 90’s, I learned the ways of “lady” via the movie “A League of Their Own.” These girl ballplayers took some etiquette courses, learning proper posture by walking while balancing a book on their heads, how to drink tea (pinky out), how to look (think makeup and dresses), and lastly how to sit like a lady (legs tucked to one side). Growing up, my sisters and I as pastor’s kids we were often looked upon and used as a measure of comparison for other congregant’s children. “Why can’t you be like the Lederle girls?” was something we heard people say about us three. Though flattering, when I heard this I always felt a bit sheepish because I knew we weren’t actually that well behaved, we just knew how to behave in public. From what seems to be day one, we knew not to embarrass or disrespect our parents in public. I can instantly recall my dad stern look and commanding voice of “behave” anytime he needed us to sit in his office or wait in the church library as he finished up church business or spoke with someone. The difference between us and the kids who parents wished were like us was we were taught how to behave like respectful children in public. Could my dad have said “Act like ladies?” Yeah, sure. And he probably would have gotten the same response. Though in our ornery nature and passion for all things “A League of Their Own” we may have tried to balance library books on our heads while waiting. And so, BIC, in the words of my father, let’s just say “Behave.” I think we can all find a general understanding of what it means to “behave” and behave well. Can we stop trying to define things by gender where you can screw things up by trying to package things in stereotypical and often harmful ways? Side-eye to Fox News’ response to Target…
“Think like a man”
This one will be a short response…nah, I don’t want think like a man. Instead, how about you challenge me to think like me. I spent too many years comparing myself, trying to think like others, and acting like I thought I needed to act based on another person’s behavior. I want to think like me because I worked hard to expand my thoughts. I have taken many university courses, read many books, and continue to have deep dialogues that shape my mind and form thoughts on important life matters. Therefore, I want to think like I want to think. The decently educated humble person who knows they don’t know everything, (though sometimes I forget and need the world to forgive me) thoughts I want to have.
“Work like a boss”
Why, oh WHY are we always pushing people to think they need to be at the top? Why are we pushing them to think that being the boss is actually that great? I have worked with people who were at the very top and were the boss of many people. I can tell you a lot of ugly stuff takes place up there. Really hard decisions are made by the top and hard decisions aren’t fun. Like ever…especially when it includes humans. For example, I don’t know of anyone (sans Donald Trump) who like firing people, cutting amazing programs for lack of resources, making decisions that you know will cause people to hate you…and the list can go on and on. When you are the boss, you can also get a big head, thinking you are the center of it all, because it is kind of true? Ever had that power where you decided things? Gosh, it may be fun for a while, but it can also lead to an extremely hard and lonely place. To be a boss, you are a target. And you may not be there for long because CEO’s are often the first to go when a company faces trouble.
Now, maybe if we think, not work, like a boss, we could challenge ourselves? Challenge ourselves to think of the entire organization when we make decisions. Challenge ourselves to think of others before ourselves? Challenge ourselves to know that we each have a unique and big calling and need to be careful because if we give up or slack off it impacts others?
Or maybe we need to think we are the sun because too often people are wrongly taking advantage of us because we think we aren’t special or awesome and can easily be a doormat… We cower to gender roles of submission and need to think like a boss to get out of our complementary hole and see that we are actually just as valuable as the next person?
Maybe we need to think like a boss because being a boss has a lot of pros and a lot of cons. bad. But instead of working like one, let’s think like one. An extremely self-aware boss, who knows at the end of the day it takes a body.
In conclusion, it was a bad day to be a stock photo model…
Can you imagine that being your face, all polished and nice standing next to some bad marketing campaign? Now, I may give Bic a wee bit of grace in that they said it came from some blog where those phrases weren’t sexist. However, I am still up in the air about said grace because having worked in marketing for over a decade, I know the amount of times things are proofed up the chain of command and someone should have earned their paycheck and known that something was wrong with EACH one of those lines. We can at least hope that Bic has now learned the trouble that can ensue by taking something out of context. (Foreshadowing hint about an upcoming post an awesome theologian wrote about women serving in ministry)
We can at least hope that people are talking and realizing that the way things are said can elicit a lot of emotions. And those emotions needs to be seen and evaluated. And that is where the power can come from – with people learning how to adjust the ways we have been indoctrinated through decades of bad and misappropriated opinions… and that by attempting to explain why something is hurtful, we can hopefully let others see how to not cause pain in the future. And remember, when “if you strike a woman, you strike a rock.” Because together, we are stronger. Together, we are a mighty force.