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Anas Mateus

Professor Lori Bedell


CAS 137H
10/5/15

The Controversial Battle for Equality


Feminism the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Over
the course of a century, women have achieved great strides in respect to their positions and roles
in society. The early 1900s witnessed women demand equal rights as their male counterparts.
Shortly after, women gained the right to vote, own property, and hold office. By the turn of the
century women gained working, education, and abortion rights. Although women have gained a
significant amount of rights, they are still faced with disadvantages even in modern times
women are still looked down upon in society.
In recent years, a new wave of the feminist movement has captured the modern world.
Many activists and corporations have taken advantage of the wide array of technology at hand to
take on social media and television in order to influence society in the battle against sexism, and
gender roles in society. During this years recent Super Bowl, common feminist ideologies about
promoting the equality of the sexes were delineated in Always #LikeAGirl advertisement.
Minutes after the commercial was aired to millions of spectators at home, many took to social
media to express their opinion about the commercial. The ad was an effort to dispose the
common saying that doing something like a girl is seen as doing something weakly or with no
effort, giving the common notion that women are perceived as weak or not good enough. The ad
was automatically seen as controversial, and received backlash and accusations that the ad was
unfair, and discounted men and boys. Meanwhile, t-shirt company FCKH8s ad campaign

attempted to achieve a similar message of equality and the promotion of a feminist ideal and also
received backlash due to the vulgarity of the commercial, as it featured adolescent girls swearing
and was dubbed as inappropriate. Through effective use of pathos, ethos, and the both companies
explicitly expressing feminist ideals, both campaigns attempt to further the strides of the activists
of the 20th century, and to finally cement a respectable and equal position in society for women.
Always iconic #LikeAGirl advertisement opens with the question, What does it mean to
do something like a girl? Always then continues to present the ideologies of the everyday
American public. Divided into two groups of prepubescent girls and teenagers, the director of the
commercial asks each individual to re-enact what it means to run, throw, and fight like a girl.
Each person in the older group re-enacted each action in a weak and awkward manner, appealing
to the majority of the audience who have grown up to know and assimilate to this common ideal
that doing something like a girl is often considered to do something impishly. The director then
cuts the scene to a diverse group of prepubescent girls from different races, and cultural
backgrounds, giving the impression that they can be anyones daughter. The director then asks
the group of young girls to re-enact what it means to run, throw, and fight like a girl. In contrast
to the older group of people, the little girls ran, fought, and threw as hard as they could as they
should be doing. The term doing something like a girl meant nothing more than doing
something that they would normally do. Indirectly, Always asks an important question
Would you tell your daughter that they couldnt do something or live out their dreams because
they were a girl?
The advertisement continues with the director asking a series of questions in an attempt
to change the way they, and the audience view the term like a girl. The ad presents the
question: When did like a girl become an insult? Its an ethical question nonetheless, and

makes the audience think. This forces the question about how this ideology stems back to the
flawed notion that women are weak creatures who need help from a male figure. This need for a
male figure to aid them in doing practically any task causes women to act impishly when doing a
task themselves. After the question is posed, the ad then states an astonishing fact: Girls between
the ages of 10 and 12 see their confidence plummet due to the limitations of society, especially
during puberty. In fact, data from the most recent Always Confidence & Puberty Survey, shows
that 72 percent of girls feel held back by society, which they feel dictates what they should and
shouldnt do.
These questions riled up controversy amongst the American public as many took social
media in order to express their opinion. Some approved of the advertisement and believed that it
was time to leave the saying in the past. Others believed that the ad was unfair, and discounted
men and boys. On a positive note, the Super Bowl ad reached out to over 100 million men and
women to spread the message and redefine the meaning of like a girl. Vice president of Always
Fama Francisco states the the response to the ad has been positive overall as a study of 1,800
Americans between the ages of 16 to 49, girls ages 16 to 24, 76% no longer said they saw the
phrase "like a girl" as an insult after watching the video. Also, two out of three men who saw it
said they would stop or think twice before using the phrase "like a girl" in a negative way, further
emphasizing the powerful message behind the advertisement.
In a more drastic approach to promote the defeat of sexism in modern society, FCKH8
takes things more bluntly as they posted an advertisement on Youtube that features little girls
dressed in princess costumes dropping the f-bomb. The ad is downright shocking, and the public
can view it in two ways: this video is hilarious, this video is extremely offensive, or is it making
a point? FCKH8 intends to add a comedic and satirical effect on its audience as little girls in

princess costumes are constantly swearing about inequality in society over the course of two and
a half minutes. Similar to Always #LikeAGirl ad, FCKH8 also presents a group of young and
diverse girls from different ethnic backgrounds, creating the appeal that each of these girls can be
anyones daughter.
FCKH8s strategy to frequently feature little girls dropping the f-bomb in their video is
effective as the f-bomb can be seen as a powerful word that is mainly used in extreme situations.
There is a negative connotation around the word, grasps the audiences attention and further
cements the commonplace that women are the weaker sex, and should have a more traditional
and reserved role in society nothing that can be seen as vulgar or offensive, which is often
described as un-ladylike. This radical strategy evidently has the greatest effect on the audience
as the ad poses a key question: Whats more offensive? A little girl dropping the f-bomb or the
sexist way society treats girls and women? FCKH8s intended comedic appeal is overlapped
with facts that are being talked about in the video "Women who graduate university with
straight A's get paid as much as men who only got Cs, or "1 out of every 5 women will be
sexually assaulted or raped by a man, and "Women are paid 23 percent less than men for the
exact same work." Although FCKH8 is a t-shirt company, their facts do have credibility as a
CDC survey reports that 1 out of every 5 women are indeed victims of rape and sexual assault in
the United States. The ad gets the public talking about the issue as people may succumb to agree
with the facts stated in the video or a complete backlash claiming that feminism is the evil in our
society, and that these little girls should now be exploited to spread this propaganda. The ad may
be jarring to many, but one thing is certain: FCKH8s attempt to spread their feminist ideologies,
and to destroy the commonplace that women are weaker than men, was heard.

As women continue to fight on to fully gain equal rights in society, companies and
organizations such as Always, and FCKH8 have created ads to promote feminist and anti-sexist
ideologies and ultimately cause controversy among the public. Overall, it seems that these ads
have helped raise awareness regarding these issues, and society is now working in order for
women to not be viewed as weak or receive unequal pay. These ads achieved their overall goals
and were presented in the right place at the right time in order for society to make an effort to
gain full equality between the sexes.

Works Cited
"How to Super Bowl #LikeAGirl - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 04 Oct.
2015.
< http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/29/living/feat-likeagirl-super-bowl-ad/>
"How to Teach Girls to Be Confident #LikeAGirl - CNN.com." <i>CNN</i>. Cable News

Network, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2015.


< http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/living/feat-teach-girls-confidence-likeagirl/>
"New Always #LikeAGirl Unstoppable Video Reveals How Societal Expectations Hold Girls
Back; Always Takes Action by Partnering with Academics and TED to Teach Confidence
to Girls at Puberty." <i>New Always #LikeAGirl Unstoppable Video Reveals
How

Societal Expectations Hold Girls Back; Always Takes Action by Partnering with
Academics and TED to Teach Confidence to Girls at Puberty</i>. N.p.,

n.d. Web. 04 Oct.

2015.

< http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150707006208/en/Always%C2%AELikeAGirl-Unstoppable-Video-Reveals-Societal-Expectations#.VhHsjiBVikp>
"Always Feminine Products and Menstrual Information | Always.com." Always Feminine
Products and Menstrual Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2015.
<always.com/en-us/about-us/our-epic-battle-like-a-girl>
"Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com." YouTube. YouTube,
n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2015 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqHYzYn3WZw>