Many people are guilty of doing it, and some don't even notice it. "She's a great female writer," "a fantastic female chef," "a formidable female director," "a powerful female athlete." The word "female" here is a completely unnecessary modifier, and it changes the standards we use to assess someone's abilities. In other words, we're not just judging that person's talent as a writer/chef/director/athlete, but we are also taking their gender into consideration. One brand is tired of this double standard. In Everlast's "I'm a boxer" commercial, the company is addressing this sexist habit in the world of sports, sending a powerful message that should transcend all spheres.
In the video, a young woman is shown walking around an empty boxing ring with palpable resolve, interspersed with clips of her training and her older self fighting an opponent. She says:
I imagine a world where it doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl. What matters is how well you play. So don't call me a female boxer. I'm a boxer.
The message is at once simple and poignant, and very clear: Women don't need that gender modifier to help label their greatness. Saying that someone is a "great female [title]" is like using the female gender as a crutch. It's one step up in formality from "She's a great [title] ... for a girl."
And this doesn't just happen in sports, but in virtually every industry. The commercial's director, Claire Edmondson, told the Huffington Post that she herself has felt this gender-fueled double standard in her own career.
There seems to be a trend happening where women's career titles are constantly being genderized. For instance, I'm constantly referred to as a "female director" instead of a "director" and I wanted to address that. I also wanted to make something positive for young girls to see.
The commercial's star, who has a one-two combo that would intimidate Muhammad Ali, is a prime example of why stereotypes should be obliterated. It's hard to look at her and say that boxing is a man's sport without feeling completely absurd. Not only is it important for other young girls to witness more role models like this, but it's important for everyone to observe.
It's alarming, to say the least, that in 2015, we're still adjusting to
a world in which it's acceptable for women to do the same things as
men. Women direct Oscar-winning movies, women run for president, and women are beating their male counterparts
in all kinds of sports. Yet, we're still talking in a way that suggests
that's not the norm, as if the concept of a female professional is still
novel. Hence that antiquated, detrimental modifier. We use it because
we're still subconsciously surprised when a female accomplishes
something once only associated with men. And it's time we stopped.
So if it sounds strange to say, "He's a great male chef," then think before you use "female" as a modifier.
Images: Everlast/YouTube (4)