Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

What's wrong with a 'girlie man?'

By Carol Costello
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Carol Costello says Olympic skater Ashley Wagner calls herself a strong, athletic woman
  • Costello: She's refreshing in light of remarks like "girlie man" and "feminization of culture"
  • What's wrong with feminine? The GOP should beware of comments like this, she says
  • Costello: In 2005, ski jumping was not "appropriate for ladies"; finally they're competing

Editor's note: Carol Costello anchors the 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET edition of CNN's "Newsroom" each weekday.

(CNN) -- Like millions of Americans, I was glued to the Olympic Games over the weekend. I loved, simply loved, Ashley Wagner's strong, athletic performance on ice to one of my favorite songs from Pink Floyd.

Truth told, I loved her pre-competition comments more. She told NBC, "People see figure skaters as these pretty little porcelain dolls that you put up on a shelf. But I am not a soft skater, and I don't want to be. I am strong; I'm powerful; I'm athletic. Most importantly to me I feel like I'm a woman out on the ice."

Powerful. Athletic. A woman.

Beautiful words in a world that denigrates female power by using phrases like, "man up," "girlie men" and the "feminization of our culture." And, I might add: What is wrong with that anyway? Last time I checked, roughly half our culture was already as such.

I simply don't equate "feminine" or "girly" with "weakness." But, plenty of others -- men and women -- do.

Conservative Fox News analyst Britt Hume recently blamed a "sort of feminized atmosphere" for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's woes.

Norway\'s Maren Lundby trains at Sochi. This is the first Olympics to allow women to compete in ski jumping.\n
Norway's Maren Lundby trains at Sochi. This is the first Olympics to allow women to compete in ski jumping.

It seems, in Hume's mind, our overly sensitive culture can no long abide a "masculine, muscular" guy like Christie.

Arnold Schwarzenegger urged the crowd at the Republican National Convention in 2004 to support free enterprise and to not be "economic girlie men." Yes, he was capitalizing on his Hollywood image, but the phrase drew a standing ovation.

Even strong women inadvertently slam female strength. Sarah Palin urged the GOP to "man up" in 2010 and support Tea Party candidates. Why didn't Palin shout, "woman up?"

I know, I know. I've used the "man up" slam too. It's fun, cutting and effective. But, upon further reflection, is it?

I love my friend Kelly's story about "girlie men." Nine months pregnant, and standing in line at Dunkin' Donuts behind two male construction workers, she overheard one of them say to the other, "You're such a girl." Kelly, exhausted from getting up at 2:30 a.m. to arrive at work on time snapped, "Then I'm sure he's stronger than you."

Women ski jump into Olympics' history
Canadian speed skater Hamelin takes gold

I don't mean to pick on Republicans, but perhaps the use of "man up," "girlie men" and "the feminization of our culture" are hurting them needlessly.

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, a majority of Americans, and women in particular, do not believe the Republican Party understands the problems and concerns of women today.

As Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told CNN: "When you look at our position on issues, a lot of times (a) majority of Americans agree with our positions. But it's the way that we talk about it that doesn't resonate, and we have to do a better job. I think it's fair to say there have been some comments which are offensive and they're not representative of the entire Republican Party."

Which brings me back to the Olympics. For the first time ever, women will compete in ski jumping. They've been petitioning to compete in the Games since 1998.

If you're wondering why it's taken 16 years, a hint: According to The New York Times, the president of the International Ski Federation, Gian-Franco Kasper, told NPR in 2005 that ski jumping "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.

Silly manly man.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Carol Costello.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT