Wellspring

Always… show them what it means to perform ‘like a girl’

I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out,
than the chances I didn’t take at all.”
Simone Biles
 
You go girl! Simone Biles is not only one fierce athlete, she’s also a great role model for young girls about strength, commitment and passion. Remember that famous Superbowl commercial in 2015 by Always that asked young people to do things “#LikeAGirl?”

 

The idea for that groundbreaking commercial was developed after Fama Francisco, vice president of Always, and her colleagues analyzed consumer research.  They found that young women experience a significant drop in self-confidence upon reaching puberty (Huffington Post, 2015). 

 

The Always commercial was powerful for many reasons – not only did it demonstrate the power of our words, but it also reminded us that these types of messages are learned and internalized over time. 

 

Young girls who were prompted with phrases such as “show me what it means to run like a girl” demonstrated running as fast as they could – they demonstrated actions with power, strength, and athleticism in every prompt.  However, older girls (and boys) given the same prompts did not show the same enthusiasm, but instead showed comedic attempts at completing the activities.

 

When femininity becomes synonymous with weakness, embarrassment, and fragility, it is no wonder Francisco and her team found these results among girls reaching what is commonly regarded as a significant symbolic marker of “womanhood”.

 

As demonstrated through the commercial, these messages can profoundly shape our perspectives on gender equality: when we treat girls and women as if they are weak and fragile, we begin to believe that they are inferior.  And as this perspective becomes reinforced over time through social norms and gendered expectations, violence against women and girls often becomes normalized, excused, and justified.

 

Intimate partner violence occurs when one person has the desire to gain or maintain power and control over their intimate partner.

 

While anyone can perpetrate or be a victim of intimate partner violence, this issue disproportionately affects women and girls because it is a manifestation of how, we as a society, view women and girls.

 

Ending relationship violence in our community requires a strong commitment to challenging and changing the social norms that allow relationship violence to continue.  

 

In conjunction with Coaching Boys Into Men, Wellspring coordinates a similar program for high school athletes on girls’ sports teams: Athletes As Leaders aims to empower female-identified youth to take an active role in promoting healthy relationships, build a positive culture within their team, and end sexual violence. Throughout their season, athletes discuss the root causes of violence and work to generate new social norms for their team, and their school community.

 

Results from a national evaluation on the efficacy of Athletes As Leaders are incredibly promising: after completion of the program, participants showed statistically significant improvement in their ability to identify abusive behaviors, improvement in their beliefs in gender equity, and increased self-image and confidence.

 

“Girls are, and can be, more than what stereotypes say.

You have a bigger voice than you think.”

–Participant, Athletes As Leaders

 

Ending relationship and sexual abuse starts with engaging our communities to change what it means to do things #LikeAGirl.
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