View Poll Results: Is the word "girl" for an adult female human inherently offensive?
I'm a male human and I say yes. 25 13.37%
I'm a male human and I say no. 93 49.73%
I'm a female human and I say yes. 33 17.65%
I'm a female human and I say no. 24 12.83%
I have some other self-identification and/or opinion. 12 6.42%
Voters: 187. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:24 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 9,187
Is the word "girl" for an adult female human inherently offensive?

Should all these songs, for example, be modified to say "woman" to be inoffensive? Gwen Stephani needs to sing Hollaback Woman, Madonna Material Woman, Paula Abdul Forever Your Woman, Katie Perry I Kissed a Woman, Christina Aguilera What a Woman Wants, Pink Most Women, etc.? Are adult human females who use the term "girl" to describe other adult human females wrong, and in need of correction?



(Inspired by a tangent on this thread.)
  #2  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:26 PM
Ashtura Ashtura is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,735
No, it is not inherently offensive. Context and intent can make it offensive however.
  #3  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:27 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 12,021
I'm sure someone finds it offensive (some people are just touchy).
  #4  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:29 PM
Babale Babale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,506
Context is king, as is pretty typical for social situations. "Girl" can be degrading, neutral, or empowering depending on context.
  #5  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:35 PM
Ashtura Ashtura is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,735
Quote:
Originally Posted by Babale View Post
Context is king, as is pretty typical for social situations. "Girl" can be degrading, neutral, or empowering depending on context.
Sure you meant to say, context is gender-neutral monarch.
  #6  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:44 PM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 30,467
I asked a friend if her girls would be coming home for xmas. Her girls are full grown women, but they are her girls. Context.
  #7  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:47 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: NY (Manhattan) NY USA
Posts: 19,960
The main context from which the notion that it's offensive arises is the lack of parallel use of "boy" for an adult male human, so that there's an asymmetry:

Female child: girl
Male child: boy
Female adult: girl
Male adult: man

In a patriarchal world—which privileges adulthood as well as maleness—that quickly got highlighted by feminists as politically suspicious. Fairness says if male people are men when they're adults, it is sexist to call female adults "girls"; they should be "women" obviously. Adding to the picture is the historical fact that adult males have not always and equally been called "men" — nonwhite (especially black) males of adult age were notoriously called "boy", and this underlines the claim that to refer to an adult by the juvenile term is disempowering and/or derogatory.

But no, not inherently offensive. One could (even as a fervent feminist) question why the male model for designating people is the one we should go with. Perhaps instead we should cease referring to anyone as a "man", since "man" is a patriarchal political construct if ever there was one, and instead discard the insistent emphasis on age diff and go with "girls" and "boys".

Last edited by AHunter3; 01-07-2019 at 12:48 PM.
  #8  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:47 PM
Omar Little's Avatar
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Within
Posts: 12,356
Context

Was interviewing a candidate for our group (primarily degreed professionals on a business development team). Candidate was doing extremely well throughout the day...until the end, when he asked if we could get our "girl" to call him a taxi. He was referring to one of our administrative assistants. We passed on him.
  #9  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:52 PM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 26,033
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
No, it is not inherently offensive. Context and intent can make it offensive however.
Yeah.

Imperfect rule of thumb: If used as the counterpart of "man," it's offensive and demeaning (or juvenilizing, if that's a word). If used as the counterpart of "guy" (or "boy" even in reference to an adult), it isn't.

What makes the term problematic is that, in the sexist Bad Old Days, there was often an attitude that only men were the Grown-Ups, and referring to women as "girls" was a way of keeping them in their place. I'm imagining a 1950s executive saying something like "I'll have my girl [secretary] type that up and send it to you." (ETA: Written before I saw Omar Little's post directly above this one.) Of course, [sarcasm] nobody thinks that way anymore [/sarcasm], but the word isn't entirely free of such connotations.

Last edited by Thudlow Boink; 01-07-2019 at 12:55 PM.
  #10  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:54 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 9,187
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
The main context from which the notion that it's offensive arises is the lack of parallel use of "boy" for an adult male human, so that there's an asymmetry:

Female child: girl
Male child: boy
Female adult: girl
Male adult: man

Since I used song titles in mocking the first idea, turnabout is fair play.
  #11  
Old 01-07-2019, 12:54 PM
Icarus's Avatar
Icarus Icarus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In front of my PC, y tu?
Posts: 4,888
No word is inherently offensive. It takes cultural influence to deem a word offensive. It helps if people use the word to deliberately belittle other people in some way (even affectionately), but it's not a necessary element.

If you think that using the word "girl" to indicate an adult female could be offensive, you could try promoting that idea on social media. Maybe it would catch on.

That's really all that happens when other words become deemed offensive. The communication medium of the day is used to promote the idea.
  #12  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:04 PM
MoonMoon's Avatar
MoonMoon MoonMoon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,063
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
The main context from which the notion that it's offensive arises is the lack of parallel use of "boy" for an adult male human, so that there's an asymmetry:

Female child: girl
Male child: boy
Female adult: girl
Male adult: man

In a patriarchal world—which privileges adulthood as well as maleness—that quickly got highlighted by feminists as politically suspicious. Fairness says if male people are men when they're adults, it is sexist to call female adults "girls"; they should be "women" obviously. Adding to the picture is the historical fact that adult males have not always and equally been called "men" — nonwhite (especially black) males of adult age were notoriously called "boy", and this underlines the claim that to refer to an adult by the juvenile term is disempowering and/or derogatory.

But no, not inherently offensive. One could (even as a fervent feminist) question why the male model for designating people is the one we should go with. Perhaps instead we should cease referring to anyone as a "man", since "man" is a patriarchal political construct if ever there was one, and instead discard the insistent emphasis on age diff and go with "girls" and "boys".
Yes. And the "women do it too so it's all right" argument is, and will always be, ridiculous. Women believe and regurgitate without thinking the patriarchal BS they've been utterly steeped in their entire lives (and raised by women who'd also been)? How shocking! I loathe the term "woke," but it applies here. You don't know better until you learn better. You don't push back until you realize you have the right to push back.

So yeah, calling adult women "girls" is wrong and infantilizing and men and women need to stop using it.

Last edited by MoonMoon; 01-07-2019 at 01:04 PM. Reason: spelling
  #13  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:05 PM
Inigo Montoya's Avatar
Inigo Montoya Inigo Montoya is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: On the level, if inclined
Posts: 15,110
I said no, but only because I mean absolutely no offense--same as if I address my peers as 'boys'--if I apply 'girl' to an adult female. But yeah, context and knowing the audience's pet peeves. Typically I go to "ladies".

But I'm also giggling how the poll assumes female humans will always say yes.
__________________
Y'all are just too damned serious. Lighten up.

Last edited by Inigo Montoya; 01-07-2019 at 01:07 PM.
  #14  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:07 PM
ioioio's Avatar
ioioio ioioio is offline
Friend of Cecil
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: stuck inside a mobile
Posts: 3,710
Quote:
I'm a female human and I say yes.
I'm a female human and I say yes.
Please get a mod to fix your poll.

I voted "yes" because there is no "no" choice and also because it usually (but not always) is offensive. Context! It is much more likely to be offensive when used by a boy than by a woman .
  #15  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:09 PM
MEBuckner's Avatar
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 11,825
Parallelism is definitely important here. Referring to "men" and "girls" is inappropriate, unless you are actually referring to "adult male human beings" and "non-adult female human beings". Is it appropriate to refer to a female human being as a "girl"? Well, in that particular context, would it be appropriate to refer to a human being of the opposite sex as a "boy"? If not, don't call a female human being a "girl". And "boy" can also be very fraught, especially in the singular, and most especially when mixed with race. (But even between two adult white males, "Don't mess with me, boy" is obviously dismissive at best.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
The main context from which the notion that it's offensive arises is the lack of parallel use of "boy" for an adult male human, so that there's an asymmetry
But sometimes, even in very traditional uses, "boy" is used for "adult male human being", in an informal, often affectionate, and non-demeaning way:

"Poker night with the boys." "C'mon boys, let's show 'em!" "Attaboy!" "Old boys club".

Throwing in "guys" instead of "boys" as a parallel to "girls" (or "gals") means there are even more situations which are symmetrical. So, as is so often the case, "it depends".
__________________
"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." -- Carl Sagan

Ceterum censeo imperium Trumpi esse delendam
  #16  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:09 PM
engineer_comp_geek's Avatar
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
Robot Mod in Beta Testing
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 22,892
Moderator Note

Quote:
Originally Posted by ioioio View Post
Please get a mod to fix your poll.
Fixed.
  #17  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:10 PM
Babale Babale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,506
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
Sure you meant to say, context is gender-neutral monarch.
When women are actually fully in power - like some of the female pharaohs, or a few other monarchs throughout history - they tend to keep the same title. Even if people refer to them as "queens" in day to day speech, their legal title is identical. So however Context chooses to identify, they are legally a monarch holding the position of king :P

OP - I see you have added a poll, but none of your responses really describe my opinion.
  #18  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:11 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 29,121
I think it's the least bad of many bad options for a one-syllable informal term for a grown female human. Dame, gal, chick, are some of the the least offensive options.

I don't use the term myself, that said, I reserve to think of anyone who is half my age or younger as a girl or boy no matter their age, even if I don't say so out loud.
  #19  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:11 PM
Doug K. Doug K. is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Hutchinson, KS
Posts: 3,795
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
The main context from which the notion that it's offensive arises is the lack of parallel use of "boy" for an adult male human, so that there's an asymmetry:

Female child: girl
Male child: boy
Female adult: girl
Male adult: man
But we do frequently refer to adult men as boys. Off the top of my head:

Good old boys (sometimes affectionately, sometimes not)
Bring the boys back home. (wanting to end a war.)
"Come on, you boys in red!" (heard at soccer games)
Boys in blue (referring to police officers)

Normally in sports a school or organization will have the boy's team and the girl's team, or the men's team and the women's team, but rarely (if ever) the men's team and the girl's team or the boy's team and the women's team.
  #20  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:13 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 12,021
"the boys of Pointe du Hoc" too
  #21  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:16 PM
Babale Babale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,506
Ok so now that we have consensus that it's not INHERENTLY offensive, let's talk about how it often IS offensive. Everyone should learn the difference.
  #22  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:18 PM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 10,545
In the sixties (and I'm assuming before), calling a woman a woman was often considered to be demeaning. The polite term was lady and if you didn't use that, you were implying that she was somehow less than a lady. Hence the comedy satire group, LAW (Ladies Against Women).
  #23  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:18 PM
kopek kopek is offline
born to be shunned
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southwestern PA
Posts: 13,897
Another vote for it depends on context.
  #24  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:23 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 12,021
The article that inspired this thread was:

HuffPost - Fiji Water Girl Steals The Show During Golden Globes Red Carpet

I don't think they were trying to belittle or demean her with the word (although Chronos took issue with it).

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 01-07-2019 at 01:24 PM.
  #25  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:29 PM
MEBuckner's Avatar
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 11,825
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yllaria View Post
In the sixties (and I'm assuming before), calling a woman a woman was often considered to be demeaning. The polite term was lady and if you didn't use that, you were implying that she was somehow less than a lady. Hence the comedy satire group, LAW (Ladies Against Women).
"Men" paired with "Ladies" would also sound wrong to me. Again, parallelism:

Gentlemen and Ladies
Women and Men
Girls and Boys
Guys and Gals
Females and Males*
Brothers and Sisters
Mamas and Papas
Dudes and, uh, Dudettes?

*Using "female" and "male" as nouns can also be offensive, in some contexts. I tend to associate it with "police-speak", and it can be racially charged, although obviously that isn't always the case: Single White Male, Single White Female, and so on.
  #26  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:35 PM
minor7flat5's Avatar
minor7flat5 minor7flat5 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Trenton, NJ
Posts: 4,799
This is one of those places where an old guy seems less offensive than a younger guy.

I remember old bosses who would make a comment like "I'll check with the girl at the front desk" or something like that, and it flew right under the radar and seemed like something old guys say.

But unless you are nearing retirement age, it sounds offensive without without very specific context.
  #27  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:37 PM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 10,545
In California, "guys" can refer to either sex/gender, which can confuse folks from other states.
  #28  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:37 PM
Telemark's Avatar
Telemark Telemark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Again, Titletown
Posts: 21,862
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug K. View Post
Bring the boys back home. (wanting to end a war.)
I don't have the exact quote, and I think it's from Cokie Roberts. She was remarking how during the Gulf War instead of talking about "Bringing our boys back home" we now talk about "Bringing them men and women of the armed services back home". She remarked that it was yet another way that women have turned boys into men.
  #29  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:37 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 80,824
Since it was my comment that prompted this, I'll weigh in: There are contexts where it's not offensive, which are basically the same contexts where it'd be inoffensive to refer to an adult male as a "boy". But in most contexts, it would be considered out of place to use "boy", but nonetheless still common, for some reason, to use "girl". Since the offensive contexts are more common than the inoffensive ones, I answered "inherently offensive" in the poll.

I also mentioned in the other thread that this usage sometimes creates ambiguity of meaning. For instance, in a book I read a couple of years ago, a male character who's off exploring the wilderness encounters and rescues a female character. The male character is unambiguously an adult: He's referred to as a "man", and I think his age might even have been given. The female character's age is never given, and she's referred to as a "girl". And it's relevant if she's an adult or not: If she's actually an adult, then one might expect their subsequent interactions to be colored by romantic tensions, but not if she's, say, 13.

Nor is this the only way in which language routinely infantilizes women. For instance, a particularly attractive woman might be referred to as a "babe", which literally means an infant. The male equivalent, meanwhile, "hunk", literally means a large piece of something, and is not infantile at all.
__________________
Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.
--As You Like It, III:ii:328
Check out my dice in the Marketplace
  #30  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:46 PM
MEBuckner's Avatar
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 11,825
Thinking about it some more, the existence of "guy" really muddies the waters. Take "I'll check with the girl at the front desk". Saying "I'll check with the boy at the front desk" would be really weird (unless someone's twelve-year-old son is filling in at Reception today.) But, would you have said "I'll check with the man at the front desk" or "I'll check with the guy at the front desk"? Perhaps "girl" should be reserved strictly for situations in which "boy" would be appropriate ("Girls' night out":"Poker with the boys"), and "gal" should be used as the parallel for "guy" ("The gal at the front desk was friendly enough, until I told her I was a private dick; then she got pretty frosty with me"), but in speech that's going to be almost impossible to distinguish.
  #31  
Old 01-07-2019, 01:53 PM
Inigo Montoya's Avatar
Inigo Montoya Inigo Montoya is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: On the level, if inclined
Posts: 15,110
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
*Using "female" and "male" as nouns can also be offensive, in some contexts. I tend to associate it with "police-speak", and it can be racially charged, although obviously that isn't always the case: Single White Male, Single White Female, and so on.
I tend to relate better to machines than to people. To me, "female" invokes a flicker of meaning along the lines of "some thing you stick something else into". Like one of these (which, curiously, has a decidedly male element to it). I avoid using the term with humans whenever it is not obnoxious to do so.

It is mind-blowing to think someone would think it appropriate to refer to an employee as "boy" or "girl" unironically. Like, super old people maybe, but certainly not pre-retirement types.

Last edited by Inigo Montoya; 01-07-2019 at 01:55 PM.
  #32  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:00 PM
Riemann's Avatar
Riemann Riemann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA
Posts: 6,508
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
Gentlemen and Ladies
Women and Men
Girls and Boys
Guys and Gals
Females and Males*
Brothers and Sisters
Mamas and Papas
Dudes and, uh, Dudettes?
There seem to be few neutral and non-infantilizing slang words for women. What are the female parallels to the following?

U.S.: guy, dude
U.K.: fellow, bloke, chap

I don't think guy and gal are equivalent - gal is just an informal equivalent to girl, whereas guy is not infantilizing. That could account for why guy is tending to become gender-neutral in some dialects.

Last edited by Riemann; 01-07-2019 at 02:02 PM.
  #33  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:17 PM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 30,467
guys & dolls?
  #34  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:33 PM
Babale Babale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,506
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
guys & dolls?
Try to think rationally about why this would be a bad idea.
  #35  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:37 PM
you with the face you with the face is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Laurel, MD
Posts: 11,967
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
Thinking about it some more, the existence of "guy" really muddies the waters. Take "I'll check with the girl at the front desk". Saying "I'll check with the boy at the front desk" would be really weird (unless someone's twelve-year-old son is filling in at Reception today.) But, would you have said "I'll check with the man at the front desk" or "I'll check with the guy at the front desk"? Perhaps "girl" should be reserved strictly for situations in which "boy" would be appropriate ("Girls' night out":"Poker with the boys"), and "gal" should be used as the parallel for "guy"
"...the lady at the front desk" would be a suitable analog to "...guy..." to me.

"Gal" sounds folksy and outdated to me.
  #36  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:38 PM
Filbert Filbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 5,084
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post

Nor is this the only way in which language routinely infantilizes women. For instance, a particularly attractive woman might be referred to as a "babe", which literally means an infant. The male equivalent, meanwhile, "hunk", literally means a large piece of something, and is not infantile at all.
Hmm, 'babe' is pretty commonly used by women to describe attractive men as well. Commoner than 'hunk' in my personal experience.

We could probably use a new informal term for a woman, but that tends not to be the sort of project that goes well. I know someone who was seethingly furious about a waitress asking him and his wife 'So, what can I get you guys?' because how dare anyone call his wife a guy, not a lady?! Told everyone he knew never to go to that restaurant, complained to the manager, left scathing reviews everywhere, the works.
Yes, he's pretty old.
  #37  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:42 PM
Riemann's Avatar
Riemann Riemann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA
Posts: 6,508
Quote:
Originally Posted by Filbert View Post
Hmm, 'babe' is pretty commonly used by women to describe attractive men as well.
Really? In what region/dialect/age group? I don't think I've ever heard this.
  #38  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:47 PM
Shodan Shodan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
Posts: 38,198
I said "inherently offensive" but that might be a bit overstated.

The opposite of "girls" for me is "boys". Both I tend to use to refer to young people, and the young are lower-status. I would tend not to refer to a woman/female as a "girl" unless I was prepared to refer to a male/man as a "boy" of the same age and in the same situation.

But then again, I am A) old, and B) tend to be overly formal rather than vice versa. I would say "the lady at the front desk" rather than "the girl" unless the person sitting at the front desk was fourteen or less or thereabouts.

But see A). They all look like children to me. Now get off my lawn, girlie.

Regards,
Shodan
  #39  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:49 PM
Urbanredneck Urbanredneck is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 6,904
Ever heard of "Girls Night Out" or "Chick Flick"?

Women use those terms all the time so it can depend on context.
  #40  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:51 PM
Chingon Chingon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: the hypersphere
Posts: 389
No shit?
  #41  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:51 PM
Riemann's Avatar
Riemann Riemann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA
Posts: 6,508
Quote:
Originally Posted by Filbert View Post
We could probably use a new informal term for a woman, but that tends not to be the sort of project that goes well. I know someone who was seethingly furious about a waitress asking him and his wife 'So, what can I get you guys?' because how dare anyone call his wife a guy, not a lady?! Told everyone he knew never to go to that restaurant, complained to the manager, left scathing reviews everywhere, the works.
Yes, he's pretty old.
You talk about a "project", implying a prescriptive change. But the transition of guy to gender-neutrality in some dialects is a spontaneous change, probably stimulated by lack of adequate vocabulary to reflect modern social sensibilities. It's the old fart who won't accept the change who's advocating a "project" to proscribe it, not the other way around.

Last edited by Riemann; 01-07-2019 at 02:55 PM.
  #42  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:53 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 29,121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
Really? In what region/dialect/age group? I don't think I've ever heard this.
I was about to post the same as well, although I can't think of a dialect. My guy feeling is it's about equal to "hunk" but I might be wrong.

At any rate, moving beyond physical attraction and to the romantic, "boy/baby" and "girl/baby" seem to be used fairly gender-equally to describe an actual or potential intimate partner.
  #43  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:54 PM
Riemann's Avatar
Riemann Riemann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA
Posts: 6,508
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanredneck View Post
Ever heard of "Girls Night Out" or "Chick Flick"?

Women use those terms all the time so it can depend on context.
Your ideas intrigue me and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
  #44  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:58 PM
Cheesesteak's Avatar
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Lovely Montclair, NJ
Posts: 12,943
Girl and Boy are used differently than Girls and Boys.

Saying, "Tell that girl, Cindy, to come up here" is very different than saying "Tell the girls in Accounts Payable they can go home an hour early today." You don't refer to a single adult man as a boy, but you can have a boys night out, or the boys in the machine shop.
  #45  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:59 PM
Riemann's Avatar
Riemann Riemann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA
Posts: 6,508
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
At any rate, moving beyond physical attraction and to the romantic, "boy/baby" and "girl/baby" seem to be used fairly gender-equally to describe an actual or potential intimate partner.
Yes, "my baby" is certainly used by women to refer to a male partner. What I'm questioning is the use of "a babe" to describe an attractive man. I've never heard that, and although I'm older I would have thought it would have come up in TV/movies.
  #46  
Old 01-07-2019, 03:10 PM
SmartAleq's Avatar
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: PDXLNT
Posts: 4,876
Unless the gender of the person working a given post is germane, why bother specifying it at all?

"I'll check with the front desk."
"I'll ask the receptionist."
"Tell HR they can go home an hour early, would you?"

Just drop the gender OUT--in a business context it's almost always unnecessary, and if you need to specify a person, use their damned name.

"Check with Bob at the front desk."
"Go see Ms. Smith in HR."
"You'll want to ask Cindy about that, she's the one who handles it."

The jobs aren't gendered, so don't bother specifying the gender of the person doing the job.
  #47  
Old 01-07-2019, 03:27 PM
Find Friends Find Friends is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Image City on North Coast
Posts: 2,384
It depends on the context, I say.

That's why I, a male, said no.

I recall a self-help drop-in program where one individual said something like "boy-girl-boy-girl-boy... " about a seating arrangement. An older woman (?) who was a supervisor at the time, chided her for calling grown women girls. Of course the context made it equivalent to "male-female-male-..."

I can just imagine how much louder the complaint had a male present said that...

Naturally, the older party was the very epitome of maturity. She seemed to have problems with all men there, regardless of how excruciatingly compliant-versus- assertive or aggressive. The director was having an affair with her and would never have terminated her, no matter what, since he had a "must obey mama" complex. When a new director replaced him she realized that she no longer had the insurance against firing. She then solemnly promised to be compliant herself. But within a few months she was constantly after a man who had also been as supervisor (maybe still had been). He played it cool and said nothing himself but others relayed the abuse, and she was finally set free.
  #48  
Old 01-07-2019, 03:31 PM
WOOKINPANUB's Avatar
WOOKINPANUB WOOKINPANUB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: St Petersburg, Floriduhhh
Posts: 6,682
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Should all these songs, for example, be modified to say "woman" to be inoffensive? Gwen Stephani needs to sing Hollaback Woman, Madonna Material Woman, Paula Abdul Forever Your Woman, Katie Perry I Kissed a Woman, Christina Aguilera What a Woman Wants, Pink Most Women, etc.? Are adult human females who use the term "girl" to describe other adult human females wrong, and in need of correction?



(Inspired by a tangent on this thread.)
I don't think these are great examples because (to my ears at least) these conjure up images of very young women who are referring to themselves. Not a bad question, though.

The only time I've ever heard it used in an inappropriate way is the example that's already been given;in the Mad Men,1960s sense. And even then, I'm not sure if it was IRL or on some tv show.

I'm not usually too sensitive / observant about these kind of things but I work in a giant (southern) old boys' (ha!) network so from now on I'll keep my ears open and see if it crops up.
  #49  
Old 01-07-2019, 03:34 PM
Filbert Filbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 5,084
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
Really? In what region/dialect/age group? I don't think I've ever heard this.
UK. Mid 30s, but it's not new here.

I don't think I've ever heard a guy called a 'hunk' in anything other than a somewhat dismissive or sarcastic manner here, 'Seen Emma's new hunk? Brains like a bullock'. On the other hand, 'Seen the new barman? Total babe' would be utterly unremarkable.

The fact that deliberately trying to change the language, or add words as an 'equal alternative' just doesn't work was kinda my point. Even an innocuous attempt to make a word gender neutral can really upset people.

It would be very nice if there was another word, but deciding there should be one is when you wind up with stuff like 'wymyn'. And no one wants that.

Last edited by Filbert; 01-07-2019 at 03:34 PM.
  #50  
Old 01-07-2019, 03:35 PM
Chingon Chingon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: the hypersphere
Posts: 389
Well I think it might depend on the context.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:53 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017