Vive le difference! That expression is often used to summarize the many differences between men and women, and of course most important ones are obviously biological.
But does that phrase include innate differences when it comes to throwing a ball? There’s a cultural assumption that men are “naturally” better than this, based on a supposed superiority in size and strength.
Here’s the truth, though: a huge part of that assumption is based on a lie. While it is true that men usually have larger body size and more muscle mass, throwing a ball involves specific skills that can be mastered by either gender.
The expression “you throw like a girl” may have some power as an insult, but there are plenty of women who throw as well or better than their larger and supposedly stronger male counterparts.
So how did this assumption get started, and where did the supposed validity come from? Let’s look at some of the defining factors and expose a few of the myths behind the assumptions.
Imagine growing up in a world in which everyone around you tells you that you’re probably not going to be good at something and your ability to master it is beyond your control. Still think you’d try it?
This is what happens to both boys and girls when it comes to throwing a ball. For boys, its a skill they’re expected to master, and they’re often denigrated if they don’t.
For girls, though, failure is almost expected when it comes to this particular skill. They’re not boys, after all—how can they possibly be good at it?
Once girls internalize this cultural message, that failure is virtually certain to continue.
All of this despite the fact that the steps in throwing aren’t hard to master: Step forward with the opposite foot of the throwing hand, rotate the hips, then use the shoulder to initiate a whipping motion of the hand and arm to release the ball.
But those steps have to be practiced, and girls often stop doing that due to the cultural conditioning they’ve received.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this gender disparity when it comes to throwing a ball often starts around age four, which is when boys and girls start to acquire the cognitive ability to start taking in stereotypes and gender expectations.
One interesting example of a different cultural pattern, though, is that shown by Aboriginal children in Australia.
Typically, both boys and girls learn to throw and hunt starting at a very young age, and as a result the gender gap between boys and girls is usually much smaller when it comes to the so-called “ball skills.”
Let’s look at another example. A show called “Mythbusters” recently offered an other intriguing example of how this can work.
The show took a group of men and women and directed them to throw the ball with their non-dominant hand and arm, and gender differences quickly disappeared.
Both men and women struggled at first, but with ongoing practice the speed and skill of their throwing became surprisingly equal.
Perhaps the most compelling myth busting of the “throw like a girl” adage is taking place in our society right now.
As more and more girls participate in sports and become more athletic, we’re seeing an increasing number of girls and women who excel at throwing a ball, whether that ball is a baseball, a basketball or a football.
The evidence can’t be quantified to date, of course, but it wouldn’t be a bit surprising if the “throw like a girl” phrase became completely obsolete within another generation or two!
If you like reading top-charts- this one might be amusing!