Why Women’s Day Matters to This Man
Written by Mike Borell
Growing up as a kid I had three favorite movies: The Wizard of Oz, The Sword in the Stone, and The Sandlot. The Sandlot is a classic piece of americana centered around a ragtag gang of boys who all share a deep love for the game of Baseball. The film is full of famous one-liners most Americans my age are all too familiar with:
- “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
- “For-ev-er. For-ev-er. For-ev-er.”
- “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”
- “You play ball like a girl!”
“You play ball like a girl.” The simile “like a girl” became a very popular insult to throw around the playground as a kid, but it’s something I grew out of around the age of 8 or 9. I was brought up by my parents to have respect for women and all people of this world. I’m 26 years old now, it’s International Women’s Day, and the term “like a girl” has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
I’m a copywriter at a woman-owned agency, my sister is my best friend, and I’m a trainer at a gym where I get my ass kicked on a daily basis by women that I would be proud to throw a ball like. To me, “like a girl” means strong, inspiring, fearless, loyal, and supportive. On second thought, “like a girl” practically means nothing to me, because the logic behind this statement as an insult does not even compute in my brain. Is there any difference between how a boy or a girl throws a ball? I don’t think there is.
Last Friday, my co-workers and I attended AdFed of Minnesota’s The Pretty Good Show. We drank, we laughed, and we celebrated a few big wins, but there was an elephant in the room. Literally, there was a big white elephant in the middle of the room. The elephant was meant to represent gender inequality and the role of women in our creative industry. This threw me off a little. It’s 2017. How is this even a thing?
From my personal experience, gender inequality has not been thrown in my face on a regular basis. Any environment that would lend itself to that is not one I would choose to be in. So when this elephant in the room took a big stand on the issue and brought it front and center at the largest industry event in our community, the community I work in, it caught me off guard. There seemed to be more women than men at the event. There are plenty of women working at all the agencies in town and some women are getting to the top and running those agencies. I’ve seen Mad Men, but is this really still an issue in our industry?
Swallowing my ignorance was stiffer than my drink, and I was sipping whiskey neat. I may not encounter it on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. So if the purpose of this elephant was to start a conversation, it succeeded. This blog post wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for that big ass elephant.
I’m not a very political person, I avoid discussing the topic, and I don’t post about it on social media, but today I want to take a moment and say that as a copywriter working in the advertising industry I am proud to write copy like a girl. I’m proud of my boss and creative director Boriana Strzok who took a chance on me when none of the big agencies thought I could be a writer because my background was in production. I’m proud of my sister for her endless support. I’m proud of all the female athletes I have the honor of coaching and learning from. I’m also proud of the award I won at The Show for my copywriting – a skill I developed under the guidance of a woman.
5IVE was founded by a fierce female – an industry outsider who had the balls to build her own bridge to success. I never hesitated to follow her down this path for I too felt the need for our industry to do things differently. We have a different approach here and a different point of view, but it’s always felt natural to me. We are the underdogs – the ragtag team of individuals from The Sandlot who had the courage to take on a “real team” of ball players. We are equals.
Today is not just International Women’s Day, but also A Day Without a Woman. In honor of this, my female co-workers have taken the day off. Our office is half empty and I hope that all of the other half empty work spaces out there today take notice. As a young man in an old industry I don’t associate with the past, but aspire to represent the future. I have hope that my generation will not only believe in equality, but work hard to achieve it.