Isn't it about time we stopped referring to women as girls?

(102 Posts)
PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 17:18:28

I've been thinking about this today and wondering what impact it has on how we view both women and girls. Does it assist the blurring of the age of consent? Or how we reduce women's value by talking about them as children.

And thoughts.

MooncupGoddess Thu 25-Oct-12 19:31:02

I totally agree with all of this in theory but have to admit I was about 30 before I really started thinking of myself as a woman rather than a girl. I still find it very hard to refer to women between about 18 and 25 as women rather than girls. I tend to think of younger men as boys too, so I think this is partly to do with the prolonging of youth in our culture generally... but certainly it affects women more than men.

namechangeguy Thu 25-Oct-12 19:31:58

I have heard 'young lady' many times addressed to my daughter and others. Does that count?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 25-Oct-12 19:49:40

I agree with you Mooncup.

PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 19:55:40

But feeling like a woman is also part of the issue, isn't it?

maybenow Thu 25-Oct-12 20:00:50

I felt (feel?) that the word 'woman' is very much focussed on my sexuality in a way that 'girl' isn't - when I was the only female in a university physics class I was more comfortable if everybody just ignored my sexuality and 'girl' is less of a sexual term than 'woman'.

I don't know why i feel like that about the word 'woman' but i think it's the womb part but also because the most common use of woman is to do with menses - 'you're a woman now' which i find ick (particularly as i got my period in primary school at 10yo).

AbigailAdams Thu 25-Oct-12 22:00:59

Isn't part of the problem that the word "woman" is seen as quite rude, hence why people feel uncomfortable saying things like "the woman over there" or "this woman was saying...", "Women, listen up" to gather attention from a number of women or "Women's night out". At the same time there is no casual form of women, like there is for men e.g. Guys, lads etc.

I agree though. I always try to use alternatives to girl for the reasons stated above.

SinisterSal Thu 25-Oct-12 23:02:36

It would be great to have a casual word for women, here we have lads or fellas for men but nothing for women, really. You don't always want to be formal, even in the workplace.
I agree with maybenow above saying that Woman is quite sexuality focused, and it ties in nicely with Abigail's subsequent post saying the owrd 'woman' seems rude - The 2 posts taken together illustrate quite nicely why

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 25-Oct-12 23:11:31

Agree sal

"Let's go, guys" is somewhat unisex but wouldn't use it to a group of women. I think there was a thread on this and Dames was broadly popular.

MooncupGoddess Thu 25-Oct-12 23:20:38

Dames sounds a bit too American for me. There's someone on the London Feminist Network email list who uses 'wims',which I rather like!

FizzyLaces Thu 25-Oct-12 23:21:15

It makes me cringe so do most things as I become more aware of the crap which surrounds me.

I recently pulled up queried a colleague who was using 'girls' in some written stuff about a womens' group we run. We had a long chat and she changed her mind and said she will not use it again <<proud>>

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 25-Oct-12 23:23:20

IIRC women on the thread were seeing themselves as a cross between the American dame and a British Dame. Mae West meets Judi Dench, perhaps.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Thu 25-Oct-12 23:23:36

Agree with Sal, TDOS etc.

To me (and pretty much everyone IRL) it's simply a casual term in the same way we use 'blokes'.

It's only 'loaded' if that's the intention and no matter what word that person used, it would still be loaded. If someone's being a sexist git then they'll be a sexist git using girls, women or ladies <shrug>

As for it blurring the lines of consent - tosh.

I think you can really overthink things.

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 25-Oct-12 23:25:06

I hate it, its so patronising, I'm neither a dog or a child

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 25-Oct-12 23:27:20

"I was just thinking that I don't do "x night out" I just go out! I may go for drinks with x,y & z but regardless of the fact that they're all women, we don't do the [boak] girls/lads/boys night out thing in this house."

Same here, they're just nights out whether its all male or all female or mixed.
The term "girls night out" is pukey

SinisterSal Thu 25-Oct-12 23:35:07

Thrilled as I am that you you agreed with me Chipping In {grin] I have to take exception to the notion that you can overthink things. I think it's a valid point that it blurs the lines of consent - but that's an unfortunate side effect rather than the intent really.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 23:37:20

>"Let's go, guys" is somewhat unisex
Its used in a very unisex way in the US. But it doesn't help if you want to refer to something which is a night out which doesn't include men.

greenhill Thu 25-Oct-12 23:43:15

When I was a teenager we'd go 'out on the town' or 'out for a drink' or 'to a bar' when did the gendered terms come in?

I don't remember hearing about 'ladies nights' in the 1970's, unless they were at working men's clubs, and they can't still exist can they? After all women were only allowed in these clubs as a guest of a man back when they were all male environments, the man would definitely buy the drinks then too. My DM has only bought her own drink in a pub/ bar when out with 'the girls', in the last 10 years or so, she is in her early 60's.

MrsClown1 Fri 26-Oct-12 06:26:21

I already posted this on another but I will tell it again because it has made me so mad. I was at work last week and one of my female colleagues referred to a 25 year old woman as a 'nice girl'. I said 'perhaps at 25 she qualifies to be called a woman'. My female colleague told me I was nit picking! So I said 'sorry you feel like that but it is just my opinion'. She retaliated by saying that my opinion is rude and she didnt want my opinion anyway! It makes me puke. I actually asked her if she would call a 25 year old man a boy but she didnt answer that one. I have a daughter aged 27 and would be really annoyed if I heard someone call her a girl! nice or otherwise!

MrsClown1 she sounds like she was being so defensive because she knew she was wrong in some way, but absolutely didn't want to think about it.

I'm sure she's still thinking about it, specially the 'would you call a 25 year old man a boy?' part.

Cherish your eventual victory smile

MrsClown Fri 26-Oct-12 12:52:13

Blackcurrants - thanks for the support. Its really important because I am the only feminist where I live and work. I work in a very small group of 4 and none of the others have even mentioned it or supported me. I just hope you are right about her thinking about it. I have felt very uncomfortable since then. The funny thing is I had just returned from the North East Feminist Gathering in Newcastle and had done a workshop which included the same discussion.

I will never understand why someone giving an opinion in a rational way can be considered to be rude! It doesnt stop me though because even though it allienates me much of the time and is probably why I dont feel I fit in I think if girls and women have the courage to speak out in countries like Afganistan and Pakistan despite their lives being at risk I should speak out.

GetAllTheThings Fri 26-Oct-12 13:11:30

I ( a man ) left work last week and said ' have a good weekend boys ' to three men in their 30's. It just kind of slipped out and I did quiz myself about whether it would be seen as patronizing. So I mentioned it to them on Monday and they didn't mind at all.

Hearing men referred to as boys is pretty common. Boys in blue, our boys in Afghanistan, boys from the black stuff, boys toys etc etc

I think it's all in the context and intention but I can see why it might grate with some.

Karbea Fri 26-Oct-12 13:31:40

Mooncup I think you hit the nail on the head it's about prolonging youth in our culture.
Once you are 21 really you should either be a lady or a gentleman. Calling a 40 year old woman a girl really just gives her the permission to act like a child.

Get it all.. I think our boys in Afghanistan is to do with the young lads that do go to war isn't it, and reminding us they are someone's son.

GetAll I think the problem is that 'girl' is also used when the male equivalent is 'lad/man'. And that women are girls, women or ladies, whereas men can be boys, men, lads, guys, blokes, fellas, dudes, and probably others I've forgotten. There is no colloquial word for (young) woman.

malinois Fri 26-Oct-12 13:39:09

abigail: At the same time there is no casual form of women, like there is for men e.g. Guys, lads etc.

I use 'lasses' as the feminine equivalent of 'lads'. A nice informal word to refer to women or girls.

I know it shouldn't, but 'woman' really makes me cringe as in my childhood it was used exclusively pejoratively, by other women - usually of the headscarfed and scowling variety: I heard in the butchers that him from number 42 has been carrying on with that woman from number 8, she's no better than she ought to' etc. etc.

The word 'woman' was always spat out with such venom you were left in no doubt what it meant.

Karbea Fri 26-Oct-12 13:41:08

Ria there are loads...bird, Lass/lassie, Babe, Gal, Girlfriend, Chick, Missy, Damsel, Mademoiselle/madam, Broad, Shelia, hottie, b*tch...

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