Commercial sparks gender stereotyping debate

Hannah Fowl/The News Matt Bendt, senior from Ballwin, Mo., and Carley Sommer, senior from St. Louis, suit up for a game of basketball.
Hannah Fowl/The News Matt Bendt, senior from Ballwin, Mo., and Carley Sommer, senior from St. Louis, suit up for a game of basketball.

Hannah Fowl/The News
Matt Bendt, senior from Ballwin, Mo., and Carley Sommer, senior from St. Louis, suit up for a game of basketball.

Some Super Bowl commercials encouraged viewers to rewrite the rules this year.

What does it mean to run like a girl, fight like a girl or throw like a girl? This question was asked to both female and male participants in an Always brand commercial. The results varied widely between two age groups, young children and young adults.

As some viewers may take offense to the phrase “like a girl,” a male equivalent would be telling a boy to “man up” or “be a man.”

Society may accept the male equivalent, but sometimes, telling a boy to “man up” can lead to altercations. This was the case for Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher.

According to the New York Daily News, he was told to “man up” by his girlfriend’s father and then resorted to fighting.

So what does it mean to say these phrases and is it all part of a gender gap or stereotype? Kaylee Capps, freshman from Murray, said although they are not as strong as they used to be, gender stereotypes are still prevalent.

Capps gave the example that each gender has certain qualities they are expected to uphold. She distinguished when women are born, the color that surrounds them is typically pink because pink is seen as a feminine color.

Furthermore, Capps was told that she ran like a girl while playing basketball.

“I took offense (by) it,” Capps said. “It took away from everything I was trying to do, especially in a sport that is not very feminine.”

Kenny Flieger, senior from St. Louis, agrees that gender stereotypes are prevalent. Flieger said according to this stereotype, men are supposed to be dominant and stronger, and women the opposite.

Capps agreed that men are supposed to be strong, masculine and take charge. She also said men are held to higher standards in both relationships and at work.

Travis Lee, sophomore from Benton, Ky., agrees with Flieger and Capps. Lee said being a man means to be masculine and tough. Lee said there are certain things a man is supposed to do as well.

“The man is supposed to protect a woman,” Lee said. “If you go out in public and someone messes with a woman it is your job to protect her.”

Anna Luck, junior from St. Louis, said there are aspects of sports that have a gender gap.

Luck is involved with the equestrian team which she said is typically made up of girls. However, people tell her all the time that equestrian is not a sport and that it is “too girly,” she said.

After being raised in an athletic and supportive family, Luck says these comments are insulting and that equestrian ism can be for everyone. 

Lee said that women are often downplayed when compared to men in sports.

Luck said she believes stereotypes and judgments for girls start around high school or even earlier.

“I think it starts when girls start to really like boys. That’s when they start to notice what boys think about them,” Luck said.

Luck said she believes this stereotype never ends for some people, but for others, the deflating process begins around college.

“When you finally realize you’re in charge of your life is when they start to outgrow the stereotype,” Luck said.

Story by Tiffany WhitfillStaff writer