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.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 25-Oct-12 17:29:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 17:33:20

I also think the 'boys' absolves men from responsibility.

Stewie have you blogged about 'girl/woman'?

Girls, for me, implies almost an innocent sexuality for women. The ever youthful woman, the girl. It reduces a woman's respect, the girls in the office....

I can't really express it.

Yes, it's about time.

It's PAST time.

It trivializes women and their accomplishments (ref: The police officers killed in Manchester referred to as 'girls' by press and police, when male officers would have been 'heroes' probably).

I also think it blurs the age of consent - if you call 12, 14, 18, 22 and 28 year old human females ALL the same descriptor, 'girl' you are mixing up adult human women with teenage girls - and that's clearly very convenient for those who want to pretend raping children/teenage girls is okay.

I hate it. I used to refer to 'girls nights' and 'lunch with the girls' when I was in my late teens/early twenties, but stopped pretty soon after I realised that none of the men in my age-group would self-refer as 'boys' - they were men. I thought I was a woman - albeit a young one - and so I started referring to myself and my friends as such.

and YES to 'the girls in the office' - 'oh, we'll get one of the girls to bring us some tea' - it suggests that they are junior, unaccomplished, and subservient - even when these are WOMEN, damnit!

I can't abide it.

Happily I spent most of my 20s working in an extremely right-on workplace (US University English Department) where no such language was used, so I've stopped seeing it as acceptable.

Frans1980 Thu 25-Oct-12 17:38:35

"Girls" is used a lot by adult women to refer to other adult women.

girls night in/out
you go girl!
here come the girls

maybenow Thu 25-Oct-12 17:39:41

While I agree 100% about the police officers and the absolute inappropriatness of the term 'girls' in that statment, for me personally there was a long period of time when I suppose I should have been described as a 'woman' but I wouldn't have been comfortable with it - generally from about 18 to 25ish.. In france i'd still have been madamoiselle rather than madame... and I would never have called myself a woman or talked about my women friends.

In fact, I still don't feel comfortable saying i'm meeting up with some women for a bike ride or after work drinks.
My DH also wouldn't talk about a 'mens' night' or going out with the men. I think he'd use 'guys' or 'blokes'..

ParsingFancy Thu 25-Oct-12 17:40:56

"I think it blurs the age of consent. "


I've been thinking about it a lot listening to Jimmy Saville being described as into "young girls".

maybenow Thu 25-Oct-12 17:49:35

I am interested in this, do people think that 16 is a reasonable age at which to start to call girls 'women'?

I would feel odd calling a bunch of sixth formers, or even university undergraduates 'women' but I guess that's just conditioning, I could start doing it and if I did it enough then I'd get used to it.

Does anybody here use women for everybody female over 16?

Frans I know - I used to be one of those women. Hence my 'yes, it is about time we stopped'' response.

Maybe I think it is significant that we don't have a 'casual' way of referring to women that doesn't diminish them into children. "Blokes" and "Guys" both refer to adult men, don't they?

I remember referring to myself as a 'young woman' in my early twenties and yes, feeling it was rather pompous and inadequate - but also knowing, very sincerely, that I wasn't a girl. I was an adult who earned money and paid bills, and if I wanted to be taken seriously I had to take myself seriously enough to refer to myself as an adult.

PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 18:07:26

Young women is good enough at 16-21, maybe.

Frans. I note that you seem to think if women participate in the prejudice it's not prejudice? confused

greenhill Thu 25-Oct-12 18:23:29

Personally, I was a 'school girl' but always corrected anyone who said I was a 'girl' once I had left school. I have never been 'one of the girls' or gone on a 'girls night' out. I do not do 'girly' things either.

I alienated a lot of other women, who wanted to remain as 'girls' by saying this sad

PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 18:24:18

Yes I don't do girls nights out, at all and never have. I may have a ladies night though.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 25-Oct-12 18:32:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 18:32:39

Am I allowed to post blog links?

I still go out with 'the girls'. DH goes out with 'the boys'. Our friends (ranging from early 20s to mid 40s) use the same terminology in the same context.

I can see what you're saying about it being a derogatory way of referring to women but I don't think that it is always intended that way. I am happy to continue using it in this context.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 25-Oct-12 18:35:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BigBroomstickBIWI Thu 25-Oct-12 18:35:08

'Girls' night out' is an interesting one, though, isn't it? Whilst I agree absolutely with the points that have been made, 'women's night out' doesn't really seem to mean the same!

Or what if I was to talk about going out with 'my girlfriends'?

'Ladies' is even worse, IMO. Although I can't really articulate why ...

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 18:36:12

I'd probably tend to call 6th formers 'girls' - though in the context of school just 'student' might be preferable.

But apart from that - yes, women shouldn't be called 'girls' for all the reasons mentioned.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 18:38:59

I only ever seem to go on 'mums' nights out' by way of single-sex events. There's a sad old git solution grin

PosieParker Thu 25-Oct-12 18:41:24

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.

helpyourself Thu 25-Oct-12 18:43:05

I agree. But strangely it's other women who use the word more than men.

DoIDare Thu 25-Oct-12 18:46:55

We tend to refer to boys/girls night out when we plan to be a bit silly and not act our age.

Obviously dh and I are both adults.,fgs saga mailshot him now.

I tend to use bods/guys/posse (ironically) to refer to men or women.

I am trying to decide whether I like dds school referring to all the students as ladies. On balance, I think not.

DoI I used to refer to my (fresher, uni) classes as "Alright, settle down, y e luminous youth" and "Time to focus, my brilliant mind-hive" ... not sure that's appropriate in a classroom setting, though.

Did foster my 'eccentric' reputation nicely, though grin

ConsiderCasey Thu 25-Oct-12 19:27:30

DS is 11 and gets regularly referred to as "young man" or "little man". In my ex-line of work it was quite common for male mentors to shake hands with a young boy all formal and call them "young man".

It's a way of bigging them up, encourages them to take charge and be responsible. Doesn't happen with girls. I've never heard "little/young woman" addressed to an 11 year old girl.

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...

Karbea Fri 26-Oct-12 13:42:06

I don't like woman either, much prefer to be referred to as a lady smile

Trills Fri 26-Oct-12 13:48:16

AFAIK you are allowed to post blog links if they are relevant and if they have been "asked for" (not necessarily directly but in a "I'd like to hear more about X" kind of way)

I don't think it blurs the age of consent, but I do think it is infantilising and suggests that the person being referred to is somehow less than an adult (and adult man, of course).

Then again I think the age of consent is necessary for legal matters but when it comes to moral matters it should be considered to be flexible. (an equivalent of the Fraser guidelines, Gillick competence, etc)

True Karbea but aside from lass and gal which I've only heard in parts of Scotland they're not exactly neutral.

GetAllTheThings Fri 26-Oct-12 14:08:27

A slight problem I have is finding an equivalent to 'sir'.

I quite like using it when talking to older men, who ever they are, bus driver or corner shop owner. It just introduces some humility and respect into things.

But I struggle to find a comfortable way of saying the same to woman.

Lady sounds daft, ma'am possibly, 'marm', madam,

Trills Fri 26-Oct-12 14:09:06

Mam as in ham, not marm as in harm.

According to The Queen (the film with Helen Mirren, not the actual Queen)

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 26-Oct-12 14:13:25

Ria hits the nail on the head, there is no decent alternative.
Lass sounds just as patronising, young woman is a mouthful.

When do you become a woman without the young, 35, 30, 40???

Just woman is very hard to say in many sentences.

If people start "I saw a woman ...." I feel something negative is likely to follow

If people start "I saw a lady, girl young woman ...." I don't jump to conclusions.

But some feminists dislike lady too!

There isn't a right answer.

I'm a straight talking nonsense sort of person and unlikely to care what I'm referred too!

DD1 (14) likewise probably will never notice, she has a quiet self belief that shrugs off much of life's minor irritations.

She and I simply know what we are good at and expect to be treated as equal.

DD2 (11) is much less thick skinned.
She notices and is influenced by casual sexism.
It worries me there seems almost to be more of it now that in the 1980's

AbigailAdams Fri 26-Oct-12 14:16:26

Yep that is exactly what I meant about the word woman malinois. Lasses is OK though.

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 26-Oct-12 14:21:59

Yes, Woman is so often "spat out" is impossible to reclaim

QuenHelle Fri 26-Oct-12 14:22:02

I agree 100% with the blurring of the age of consent thing. I too have been thinking about this a lot since the JS story broke.

I prefer to address women as women, rather than ladies or girls but I agree , when you're addressing someone directly 'excuse me, women' somehow sounds rude, unlike 'excuse me, ladies/girls'.

We definitely need a female equivalent of 'bloke'. There was a long thread a while ago asking for suggestions. My favourite was 'broad'.

ParsingFancy Fri 26-Oct-12 14:34:03

Thinking over your examples, GetAll, they're all plural.

And actually the "girls' night out" is plural too (I'm on the fence about whether this one's OK, because I think it's intrinsically facetious.)

When it comes down to individuals, would you ever use "boy" singular to refer to a man?

Karbea Fri 26-Oct-12 14:38:55

Not sure about bloke, don't think I've ever used that when talking about/to a man.

GetAllTheThings Fri 26-Oct-12 14:47:01

When it comes down to individuals, would you ever use "boy" singular to refer to a man?

Hmm. I guess that becomes tricky as I think there are historical racist undertones to using 'boy'. And even without that , yes, it is potentially patronizing.

That said, amongst close friends, yes I have heard men referred to as 'boy'.

i.e. ' John's a silly boy for buying that car. '

Funnily enough the most common usage of 'boy' when referring to grown men that I can think of is old boy which is an oxymoron or someting.

I think boiling it down to the male equivalent helps: would someone refer to a 25 year old male adult human as a 'boy' ?

"That lazy boy in accounts.."
"The boy answering the phone wouldn't give me an appointment..."
"The boy in the office will fax us the orders..."
"We'll get a boy to type it up for us.."

I don't think they would. But 'girl' could definitely be used in such a context to refer to a 25 year old female adult human.

And it's not overthinking it to ask why the female adult human gets the descriptor that means 'child' and the male adult human gets the descriptor that means 'adult.' It's definitely a feminist line of enquiry.

MrsClown1 I think "your opinon is rude!" doesn't necessarily mean that, objectively, you were being rude. I think it means that she didn't enjoy being challenged. Which is sad for her, but there's not much you can do about her feelings. If you're confident that you weren't rude (which it sounds like you are, and should be) then I wouldn't worry about it. Sometimes "You're being rude!" is just another way of saying "I don't like what you're saying and don't want to listen to you!" - and those are two very different sentences!

ParsingFancy Fri 26-Oct-12 15:15:01

Well yes, exactly, GetAll. It's not accidental that "boy" is used in a racist context, where it serves to diminish an adult male.

Ditto that it's used with "silly".

"Old boy" is also a diminution, though it can be an affectionate one.

MissPerception Fri 26-Oct-12 15:17:47

My mother is 72 and speaks about the "girls" from her old work as in she's going to meet the girls. My father is a bit older and still plays golf with the"boys". I think it's a great attitude to have.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 26-Oct-12 15:20:06

Think of Pte Pike (old enough to bear arms) 'you stupid boy'.

QuenHelle Fri 26-Oct-12 15:35:05

Thinking about it, old boy and old girl are both used by people I know to refer to women and men of any age.

But going back to the points made at the start of the thread, and the age of consent thing, many people hearing 'he likes young girls' might assume it to mean 'he likes younger women' but if they hear 'he likes young boys' there's no ambiguity is there?

ParsingFancy Fri 26-Oct-12 15:37:04

OK, I've dug out the bit of the Panorama on JS I found linguistically disturbing (as opposed to all the other disturbing bits).

It's from 15:40.

"He had a reputation as somebody who preferred girls at the younger end of the spectrum. And other people I've spoken to have confirmed that 'the younger the better' was his motto when it came to women."

The elision is so complete that the speaker's now using "women" to refer to 14-yr-old girls, as well as "girls" to refer to women.

How far up does this spectrum of "girls" go, anyway, that 14 is at the younger end?

I don't for a moment imagine the speaker is condoning Savile, and indeed he is explicit in his language just before. But this clip illustrates how, in a different context, language could be so blurred as to make it possible to discuss an adult having sex with 14-year-olds, and then get-out-of-jail-free with the claim the listener has misconstrued it. All because girl is a synonym for woman.

ParsingFancy Fri 26-Oct-12 15:37:56

x-post withQuenHelle saying it more pithily.

GetAllTheThings Fri 26-Oct-12 15:40:24

many people hearing 'he likes young girls' might assume it to mean 'he likes younger women' but if they hear 'he likes young boys' there's no ambiguity is there?

Toy Boy ?

Personally ( as a man ) I'd cringe if another man said he like 'young girls'

Toy boy is a specific thing though, and never used about children (although it is very naff).

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 26-Oct-12 15:56:48

when DH worked in the building trade as a labourer it was the shitty builders who would refer to him as "the lad", it was a throw back to when "the lad" was disposable and it didn't matter if they died doing the job, so low he wasn't worth referring to by name as he was totally replacable as a person

its the same with the women (men never do it!) at work who refer to other adult females as "girls..<insert command>". It's putting them in their place!

AbigailAdams Fri 26-Oct-12 16:05:34

Yy to QuenHelle and ParsingFancy

GetAllTheThings Fri 26-Oct-12 16:11:00

Toy boy is a specific thing though, and never used about children (although it is very naff).

Yes, very true.

I did actually hear someone address a young woman, 25ish, as 'girl' this morning.

Work canteen, guy wanted some bacon and said ' can you get me some more bacon, girl.'

Delivered in a cockney accent. I wasn't really sure what to think. Initially I winced. But then I don't think he meant 'girl' as a derogatory put down, I think it was just part of his language. As in ' Aw'right girl' . If he was Scottish he might have said lassie. Yorkshire maybe 'pet'.

The origins may well be sexist, but I don't think he was consciously being sexist. And I guess that's half the point. If not more.

namechangeguy Fri 26-Oct-12 16:19:46

How culturally-specific is the to the UK? Can any of our colonial cousins on here tell us what is used in Australia, USA, Canada etc?

In this clip Sarah Jessica Parker is being interviewed for a 'good morning' fluffy sort of tv show in NYC and asks the (male) interviewer NOT to refer to her and other women (in their 40s!) as "girls".

SJP has a fashiony/actressy persona but was invited on the show to talk about the election and women's issues - so calling her and her co-workers 'girls' in this instance is a way of taking her less seriously and reminding everyone about the trivially fashiony stuff she does, I think. I mean, her husband Matthew Broderick is younger than her (I think?) but also definitely in his 40s - would someone call him and other 40 year old men who were working for Obama's re-election "boys" on television? To his face? I doubt it.

So it's clearly something that happens in the USA too.

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 26-Oct-12 16:39:20

the female equivalent of toy-boy is dolly-girl, not just "girl". Dolly-girl is pretty specific and refers to and OVER AGE female who is significantly younger than her other half, like with toy-boy

beyondcrazy Sat 27-Oct-12 19:41:22

I noticed this during BBC olympics coverage of women's sport - "What an accomplishment for these girls" etc. Drove me insane and I was going to write to complain but life with tiny baby did not leave me time to do so.
I deliberately avoid using the word "girl" when referring to anyone over about 18. Sometimes I slip up and teh g-word pops out, but I correct myself and repeat the sentence with "woman" instead. They usually don't comment but I can tell the person I'm speaking to notices the deliberate change and I hope it influences them to think about their language too.

Slumberparty Mon 29-Oct-12 14:27:08

This is actually something I had never thought about until I read a similar complaint on 'The everyday sexism project'. Then I noticed it a lot and started to get annoyed!
Just te other week at work I took on some extra work to help out a department, and the PM said "Seems like you're the right girl for the job". At 29 I am not a girl. I don't think he would have said "You're the right boy for the job" to a man unless he wanted to offend / undermine him!

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 16:33:19

Difficult. Some thoughts

I never saw it as an issue until it was fairly roughly pointed out me in the 70s by someone in Women's Voice. I did enjoy it later when she asked where the "Ladies" was. I pointed and said female toilets are over there.

Since then, I've tried to avoid it.


Hard to see why calling a woman a lass is patronising, when I'd quite happily call a man lad. But then I'm a Northern boy. [See?]

Referring to groups? Probably say, "OK, guys, in this release we'll..." whether it's men/women/mixed.

You don't want girls? Fine, but don't ask for ladies.

"Would you say the right boy?" Yep, as in "Can I have a big strong boy over here..." when the team's average age is 30s [excluding me]. Most likely to say girls only in the phrase "Boys and girls" because they're all so damn young...

Politely addressing people? Sir or Ma'am, used to be for folk older than me, now as I'm older than Methuselah anyone who I'm in a service relationship with.

I quite dislike being first-named by people who are serving me in shops, or health professionals. I think I should be Mr'd, or Sir'd. I'd not call someone by first name on first meeting but that's very old fashioned.

People I'm close/affectionate to/with are quite likely to get surnamed, as in "Hey, Chap. Coming for a swift half?"

I suspect we shouldn't do it, but there are other issues I'd rather focus on...

PosieParker Mon 29-Oct-12 16:51:19

I think, OMC, you're missing the wider issues.

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 17:10:16

Don't know that I am, really.
I've largely stopped calling women girls since 1975 or so...

37 years later I'm hearing "Isn't it about time we stopped referring to women as girls?"

No, I don't think it blurs the age of consent - unlike the appalling Harman, who worked for an organisation that had links to the Paedophile Information Exchange, I understand.

I don't think it devalues women, but it's inappropriate. For most users, it's an artifact of speech.

RevoltingPeasant Wed 31-Oct-12 20:22:51

Have only read first page of thread - this is a PET hate of mine. I posted a thread the other week about how a consultant deigned to explain a scan to me with the line 'You're a very bright girl, I think you'll understand this'.

I am a 33yo married professional - and the point he was explaining was really not difficult to grasp - piece of basic statistics. It is demeaning.

I work at a university and refer to female undergrads as 'women'.

Sneaks off to actually read thread.....

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 01:13:50

Its an informal thing in common useage. The q is whyarent there more informal words for women that refer to us being out and about the world in different contexts.
Its interesting, its the inverse of the title debate, men are Mr always but women are claimed, unclaimed or ranting hairy lesbian divorcee.

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 01:15:17

IN the world, that should be.

PosieParker Fri 02-Nov-12 08:39:53

Because women in groups are not encouraged?

So we haven't been allowed, women are the 'wives' the 'mothers' and so as a force/pack we possibly haven't existed for long in our own right. We've spent too much time being the 'other' to warrant having a name.

ParsingFancy Fri 02-Nov-12 08:52:36

Yes, the fact so many films fail the really very low barrier of the Bechdel Test suggests women in groups - other than those centred round a man - are not very visible.

For those who haven't come across it, for a film to pass the Bechdel Test,
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 14:12:53

Yes, historically there weren't too many equivalents of women mixing in sports teams, schools, colleagues, etc, not none of course. But most women's groups were to do with women filling women's roles, rather than assuming other identities. Its only lately that we've really needed an informal yet respectful word for women tat doesn't focus on their femaleness. So any word that weuse is a modern construct and hence a bitclunky.

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 14:14:24

'Comradesghip' is the concept I'm trying to get at, I think

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 02-Nov-12 14:18:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yep can't stand this.

grimbletart Fri 02-Nov-12 15:58:54

Today I had two online Christmas catalogues turn up (in one wrapper - same business).
One was "Presents for Men". The other was "Gifts for the Girls".

At least the "girls" one was not pink!

droid400004 Fri 02-Nov-12 18:08:40

I don't mind the use of 'girls' for adult women in a jovial way, as long as 'boys' is similarly used for men. However, I hate the way the expression 'young girls' since to vary massively in age compared to 'young boys'. To me a 'girl' is someone under 18 (ie. not an adult and therefore not a woman) and therefore a 'young girl' in in the lower end of that range. A young girl is 7 not 17! a 17 year old is a young woman! I agree that it trivialises women. I always correct people who say 'girl' when they mean 'woman'!

droid400004 Fri 02-Nov-12 18:10:09

Sistersal - first time my toddler had an appointment at our new practice I was stunned to hear him called 'Mr' - seriously? he is 2 for heavens sake! Titles need updating!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 02-Nov-12 18:41:02

Master has kind of dropped out of use, droid!

OwedToAutumn Fri 02-Nov-12 18:50:11

We need a word like bloke that refers to women in an informal way. Suggestions, please!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 02-Nov-12 18:51:31

YY Owed.

SinisterSal Sat 03-Nov-12 21:34:06

I wonder how it works in other languages.
Maybe we can adopt one of their words, if indeed they have one

Hullygully Sat 03-Nov-12 21:44:48



grumpyinthemornings Tue 06-Nov-12 12:57:54

DP has nights out "with the lads". Or "boy's weekends". But I hate when people call me a girl. Or a young woman. I'm a grown-up, thanks. grin

TeiTetua Tue 06-Nov-12 13:51:27

I think you could talk about a "girls' weekend" in the same tone of voice as a "boys' weekend". But the lack of any female equivalent to blokes, guys, chaps, fellows seems to say something about how we think about women versus men. And it's not that having informal ways to refer to people is either elevating them or demeaning them--it's just that we're used to talking about men in a neutral way. And somehow when we want to do the same about women, we haven't got the language.

GunsAndRoses Wed 16-Jan-13 01:52:53

I was sat in the dentist chair the other day and as the injection was being administered the dentist said 'good girl'. Seriously WTF, I am in my late thirties! I was not impressed!

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