I’m a proud feminist. I love being a woman, and I call people out when they use my gender as an insult.
A few weeks ago, one of my male coworkers asked a group of male coworkers where “you girls” are going for lunch. All the while, I was helping him with something. So, without even turning to look at him, I said, “you seem to be using the world ‘girls’ as an insult, and I don’t appreciate that.”
And yet, I still find myself offended by it. Not just the use of the word, but the word itself.
A different male coworker always calls me the “marketing girl,” and it really rubs me the wrong way. So why is the word girl so demeaning?
Child, in this case, is the key word.
Sure, I’m one of the youngest people working for my company. I’m 24 years old, but I’m still the head of my department and hold a lot of key information that this person needs to do his job. Being demeaning toward me is one of the last things he should want to do.
Adulthood, legally, starts at age 18. So legally, I am not a child.
Biologically speaking, womanhood starts after puberty–around age 12 or 13. So biologically, I am not a child.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I were male. This male coworker needs important information from me, so he approaches my desk. Which greeting do you think he would use?
Option 1: Hey marketing boy, can you get me x?
Option 2: Hey [male name], can you get me x?
Chances are, if I were male, he would use Option 2. Despite being the same age and holding the same position. Yet, being female, he sees it as okay to call me “marketing girl.”
Sure, he might introduce the male version of me as the “marketing guy.” But there’s a big distinction between “guy” and “boy.”
In the dictionary, boy is defined as a male child, just as girl is defined as a female child. Guy, on the other hand, refers to a man. So, no, “marketing girl” and “marketing guy” do not have the same connotations.
So, the next time you are thinking of calling a woman girl, I recommend rethinking your strategy. Instead, I recommend using her name.
Jenn @ OA and BL&D says
Totally agreed! It’s not about gender at all, it’s about calling someone a child. And it IS weird how much more prevalent “girl” is than “boy.” I think if someone called me a girl and it bothered me, I’d either correct them to “woman” or I’d refer to them as a “boy,” “child,” whatever to get the point across. Although, if we’re being honest, I don’t really think of people as adults until early 20s, so the whole legally an adult at age 18 doesn’t mean much to me. I was not very mature at that point! And I honestly didn’t start to feel like a “woman” vs a “girl” until a couple years ago (25ish).
I can’t even imagine what some coworkers would say if I called them “boy”! It would definitely be entertaining. And interesting point you make about maturity vs. legal adulthood!
Amanda Suazo says
Yeah, that girl versus boy terminology is strange and annoying. I’m glad you call people out on it, though–do they totally get embarrassed, or just mad that you stood up for yourself? I’m curious!
They mostly just back-pedel.”What? I–uh–no, that’s not how I meant—uh…” haha!
Preach woman preach!!! I feel like I encounter this gender discrimination all the time. I’m so over the woman jokes about sandwich making, etc. but even the stigma that woman can’t have leadership positions and such grinds me so much.
uuuuugh it’s the WORST!
Cynthia @craftoflaughter says
It doesnt matter how old you get either. I work with a doctor who calls us all “girls”> I have been a girl for a long time.
Uuuugh, that’s so frustrating!
I have always felt a bit uncomfortable about this terminology at work, too. When I first started, I was the one referring to others as boys and girls. I think it was more out of habit – but it still was not right. I have been working on personally being more cognizant of the terminology I am using towards others because it really does make a difference.
It’s awesome that you recognized it, Emily! It’s really hard to break a habit, but it’s so worth it.
I agree I hate it!
Glad to know I’m not alone! 🙂
Raewyn Smith says
YES! I am actually writing a post about how much I hate the world #girlboss. NO. Stop. You’re a boss, just like all of the male bosses.
I love that, Raewyn! #boss. I’m going to start using that from now on. 🙂 You don’t have to clarify the word boss–that’s what you are.
Raewyn Smith says
Yes!! It’s like lady pilot isn’t used anymore, why are we attaching ourselves to something that puts us lower than males again. And what about the people who see ttansgendered? Must they say “trans boss” lol. Oh my, I really need to finish that post.