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To hate when men refer to grown women as girls?

30 replies

kisdenhus · 01/12/2019 22:29

I know it's petty but it really grates on me. Went to see my 32 year old brother today and he was saying how he went out the other week and a group of girls got talking to him and now he things he may be starting a relationship with one of them. From the phrase girls I thought she must be early 20s or even younger but he showed me a picture and she was quite obviously his age. So it's confusing for one.

It also feels like an attempt to almost patronize or even infantilize women, by using a word meant to refer to children when describing them. And in my experience, the ones who like to refer to fully grown women as girls tend to be the same ones who objectify women and their body parts (I hear men saying "Did you see the on that girl?" a lot more than "Did you see the on that woman?) for example. Because referring to her as a woman would be admitting she has full autonomy over her life and body. We don't really see it done in reverse, can't say me or my friends have ever referred to a male as a boy, except when we were in high school.

I accept most of the time it is innocent but I don't like the connotations it has.

OP posts:

JassyRadlett · 01/12/2019 22:32

I think the trouble is that ‘girl’ has adapted to be the female equivalent for ‘guy’ as well as the female equivalent for ‘male child’.

I think I mostly hear ‘girl’ from other women (and sometimes men) in that context - where the male equivalent would be ‘guys’ not ‘boys’.

I try to avoid it, but I can see how the usage has come about (though there is an uncomfortable intersection with the older ‘young girls in the typing pool’ I recall from my dad’s generation (though thankfully not my dad).


HarrietTheFly · 01/12/2019 22:33

Yanbu I don't like it either


Jayaywhynot · 01/12/2019 22:53

I'm a manager, the men refer to me as one of the girls, when a visitor comes in "the girls will help you" the admin assistant is there to help visitors, I'm a manager, same grade as the men but lumped in as admin because I'm female, really makes me mad


SlightlyBonkersQFA · 01/12/2019 22:54

Yeh 'a woman' is somebody they dont want to fukc i think.


weegiemum · 01/12/2019 22:56

I don't like it either.

My dh has 8 female employees (he's the boss and only man). They refer to themselves as the girls and both him and me find it uncomfortable. Even his manager (older than he is) is one of the "girls".


JustanAunt · 01/12/2019 23:09

I have a coworker who refers to me and our other coworker as 'the girls', I'm only a year younger and our other coworker is five years older than him. We have told him off so many times about this and every time he says 'what should I refer to you as? The women?'. We say No! Coworkers, or 'the rest of the team' would be fine. So annoying


littlecabbage · 01/12/2019 23:11



BackforGood · 01/12/2019 23:13

I agree with a lot of what Jassy said.

I don't see 'girls' as an insult. It is a friendly, word for a group of females. Used commonly by those of us who are female. In the same way we might refer to a group of men as 'lads'.
I know a lot of MN doesn't like it, but I've never met anyone in my life that thinks it is offensive, and I know a huge number of people who would be up in arems at the first sign of inequality.


ferrier · 01/12/2019 23:13

Girls is fine by me.
I call groups of men either lads or boys, both of which are also 'youngsters'!


JaceLancs · 01/12/2019 23:13

An ex of mine used to call me ‘Gurl’
It was actually quite endearing
Context is all


DramaAlpaca · 01/12/2019 23:14

I'm constantly pulling up my (otherwise wonderful, totally non-sexist) DH on this. 'Do you mean a child or a woman, DH?' He gets pissed off with me correcting him but he does get the point, it's just such a deeply ingrained figure of speech.


AllergicToAMop · 01/12/2019 23:16

"Girl's night out/in"
"Coffee with the girls"
I actually hear it much, much more from women than men. Agree with @JassyRadlett's post


Greenmarmalade · 01/12/2019 23:17

Infantilising bullshit.


OwlBeThere · 01/12/2019 23:17

Where I’m from we use ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ all the time for adults. ‘I’m going out with the boys tonight’ for example. It’s just how it’s always been.


MistyCloud · 01/12/2019 23:17

I have absolutely no problem with anyone say 'girl' for someone over 18. 'Girls night out,' Girls on tour' who's that girl by Madonna and the Eurhythmics were about females over 18, New Girl with Zooey Deschanel was about a young woman in her late 20s. Numerous songs and films have had GIRL in the title when it's been about someone over 18.

Never get the hate for it. Each to their own, but if someone said ' I am 22 do NOT call me a GIRL!' they would be laughed at by everyone I know.


outherealone · 01/12/2019 23:17

I hate it but it’s too engrained in our parlance. The same as calling women females and marking out females for doing jobs that anyone can do but adding ‘female’ in front of it as tho that suddenly makes it special or better eg ‘female dj ‘ and various other annoyances..


PersonaNonGarter · 01/12/2019 23:19

Never bothered me. Is this a regional thing?


Bluerussian · 01/12/2019 23:21

I know what you mean but in fairness, women do it too; they talk about getting together with 'the girls' and refer to their partners and friends as 'the boys'.

It just depends who says it and in what context.


WhenISnappedAndFarted · 01/12/2019 23:22

Doesn't bother me. I go out with the girls and when my DP goes out he says he's out with the boys.


FelicityBeedle · 01/12/2019 23:22

I hate being told I shouldn’t refer to myself as a girl because I’m an adult. Where I am it’s always the girls and the boys (or the lads and the masses)in all aspects of life, work, social, family etc. It’s not insulting or infantilising, it’s just colloquialism. I assume you have an issue with people calling you pet, love, dear when it’s a term of endearment?


steff13 · 01/12/2019 23:24

I'd rather be referred to as a girl than a female. To me female has an animal connotation. And I've noticed the men who say it never call men "males," they call them men. Why not men and women?


Angie6868 · 01/12/2019 23:24

In like it. I'm late 40s.


SenecaFalls · 01/12/2019 23:25

It's demeaning, but that's often the intention. It's also often ageist in that many people want to use a term that preserves a sense of youthfulness. In any context where a male is referred to as a man, a female over the age of 18 should be referred to as a woman.


saraclara · 01/12/2019 23:27

Women do it constantly. Men less so. Either way, it seems unfair to blame men for it when it's standard language for women.

I called my team 'the girls' all the time, even though I'm not remotely girly. It was just an affectionate term.


messolini9 · 01/12/2019 23:29

To me female has an animal connotation

Grin Grin
Er ... humans ARE animals ..?

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