Ages acceptable to refer to women as "girls?"

I’m a guy, close to 40, and I still refer to some women my own age or younger as “girls.” Someone approximately my own age might be a “woman”, though more likely my own age and up falls into the category of “that lady.” Is that bad?

Also, the top “it’s always OK” should specify “I am female” and the bottom one “I am male”

And pls elaborate if you choose “up to x years old” or “depends on the circumstances/other”

I think it’s okay in friendly casual contexts with people you know well and where it’d also make sense to refer to men as “boys.”

For example, “She just has to find a cute boy to take her mind off things”, “That girl is looking good!”, “I’m going out with the boys”, and “It was a sausage fest, I was the only girl at the party!”

It’s not okay in a professional setting. My college students get angry when I call them women, but that’s what they are and that is how they need to start thinking of themselves. I do think it’s harmful that we encourage females to think of themselves as “girls” until quite late in the game, but encourage males to act like “men” when they are still in their teens. It sets them up to think it’s good to be childish.

I also think our society would benefit if we were more willing to consider being a “woman” to be a good thing. We don’t become irrelevant to society once we get out of our youth, and we should stop encoding that meme in our language.

Not okay examples: “They girls can have their meeting in the conference room,” “The boys will draw up the contract,” “The men will stay on the second floor and the girls on the third,” “Professor. Richards is such an awesome girl,” “That girl needs to get me the sales report ASAP,” etc.

I largely agree. Girl and boy are fine as casual friendly terms; in fact that casualness is much of the reason it doesn’t work in a more professional/formal context. Even if it isn’t meant as an insult it sounds goofy.

Well, speaking as a man I don’t think that being intensely pressured to conform to a destructive stereotype from an early age has benefited men very much. Even as a kid I noticed that most of the time when someone told me to “act like a man” they were telling me to do something stupid; something that hurt me but benefited them. Like not complaining when a bully harassed me, say.

I recall telling my mother that years later, and she commented that it reminded her of when she was a young girl how people would tell her to be “more ladylike”. And how she eventually noticed how closely “more ladylike” resembled acting stupid for the benefit of others. Or just plain acting stupid.

As for women acting girlish; well, women IMHO as a group just aren’t as obsessed with proving their womanliness as men are with proving their manliness. Women in general tend to permanently hang on to behaviors that in a man would be considered childlike; everything from stuffed animals and dolls, to using “childlike” words like “tummy” even as adults.

In some circles, you don’t even have to be female to be called a “girl.”

Think about the phrase “You’re a man now.”

With this phrase comes the idea that it’s time to take responsibility for your life. You are expected to make tough decisions and stick to some sort of moral framework. You are expected to care for the people close to you and protect them. I think these are all pretty positive things.

Then look at “You’re a woman now.” I think you pretty much only hear this when you start your period.

My understanding is that for the Chinese “girls” are unmarried, and they only become “women” after they are married.

Just ask them, they will probably tell you that they should be married before they are considered as women.

Of course.

And the role of any good teacher is to teach people to question their assumptions, consider new ways of thinking about things, and try out new perspectives. If I teach my students anything, I hope I teach them to find their inner strength, figure out what they truly believe in and do what it takes to get at least some of their dreams. And part of that is expecting them to act like adults rather than children. I know to some degree this is a bit of cultural imperialism, but it doesn’t hurt them to see another perspective. And honestly I think it’s needed- I get way too many students coming to me with anorexia, suicidal thoughts, etc. Judging from the changes I’ve seen in my students and the overwhelming response I get (I’ve been getting a lot of hugs and tears during my final exams) I think I’m doing a good thing.

So that’s right girls, you are women to me. You are capable of making money, choosing your career, deciding when or when not to get married and making sure that you can live a life that conforms to your values! And you are responsible for your choices, good and bad! You can be as sexual as you wish, and you can also choose not to have sex with someone if that’s what you wish. You do not need to wait until some man claims you to become an adult. You do not need to define yourself in terms of a man. Become a partner, for sure, but don’t become property. You are not some child whose life is decided by others. You are not helpless. You are capable. You have the strengths and the smarts to move forward in your life.

It’s all about context, and of course the preferences of the girl/woman in question.

I usually don’t use it very much, except to my cat and snake, who can be told they are “good girls” without me feeling like a condescending creep. :stuck_out_tongue:

The singer in our band was a succesful lawyer, now has a few kids, etc. - and we refer to her (and she to herself) as our “girl singer”…

Women your own age are ALWAYS girls. :slight_smile:

I selected “only if she’s underage.” There is only one exception in my mind - the phrase “girls’ night out.” I’m not a big fan of that phrase, either, but I can’t think up a good alternative.

It depends on the situation, not the age. But the one thing that always bugs me is when people fail to realize there’s an equivocation with the word ‘girls’. You can have girls as in “girls and boys” and girls as in “girls and guys”. It’s a mistake to think that somebody saying “the girls from marketing need the conference room” is equivalent to “the boys from marketing need the conference room”. The equivalent would be “the guys from marketing need the conference room”.

They can both definitely be too casual, but I don’t believe calling women girls in that context is more immature or babying than calling men guys in that context. There’s another word, gal, which people seem to approve of for casual use without the connotation of youth and immaturity, but it sounds folksy to me and I don`t use it.

This is close to my pet peeve which is that there is no casual term for women, in common use, besides ‘girl’ and that is sometimes demeaning. I’d love it if the term ‘gal’ came back into common use or another term was available. I know ‘gal’ comes from ‘girl’, but its much easier to make that mean “female of indeterminate age” than ‘girl’.

I agree, that’s why I call 'em chicks.

I’m 20 and I refer to most women as ‘girls’. I’ll probably grow out of it, but maybe not.

My friends and I refer to them as Chick Nights. Even more popular are Chick Trips. All of us, as organized and united females are members of the local Chick Union.

Always ok.

Actually if she’s technically a woman, it’s a compliment if she’s over 25, I would say.

Did that for ya. You can use “report this post” and ask a mod for corrections to poll questions.

Think again. If you called me a girl, a good result would be a simple :dubious:

twicks, one of those humorless feminists who voted “only if she’s underage.”