Because it is Women’s History Month, I am going to take this time to indulge in a rant that has been building up for years. It is about referring to women as “girls.”
I am currently reading John Grisham’s newest, The Whistler (about a whistleblower). There is a meeting with the local constable and the chief of this Indian tribe. The Chief wants to know about “the girl” that was in the accident. “The girl” is a lawyer and investigator in her thirties.
Not to want to be overly sensitive, I asked myself if maybe there were groups of people who continue, in 2017, to refer to women as “girls.” I don’t know this, so I am asking my readers. As far as myself and the people I tend to hang around with, we call a woman a woman. Although, in my old age, I admit to having made the distinction between a woman and a “young woman” more than once. And I suppose there are young women who would not be able to resist describing me as an “older woman” (to be polite) or an “old woman” to be less so.
Calling a woman a girl just happens way too frequently in books and movies. And I’m talking authors like Grisham, and movies… well, I can’t think of a specific one at the moment, but the last time it happened my head spun because it was so inappropriate to the quality of the movie.
Whether or not you know people who refer to women as girls, or whether you do it yourself – and you know who you are – I am here today to say, just stop it. You would be unlikely to refer to a man in his thirties as a boy, although you may, like me, have a hard time calling a man in his twenties anything but a young man. In fact, I would like to suggest that at age eighteen, boy and girl are no longer appropriate descriptors.
I also have a problem with the fact that although we are forbidden to say “the ‘n’ word,” it is perfectly okay to use the word “bitch” fairly indiscriminately, and even on network TV. Just as horrific things were said in reference to President Obama’s blackness, women (like Hillary Clinton) have had ugly abuses heaped upon her in relation to her sex.
It has to start somewhere, so let it start with calling a woman a woman.