TeaElle made a comment in this thread that got me thinking.
(Sorry, I don’t know how to link to a specific response in a thread. If you just scroll down a bit, TeaElle’s response is the fifth posting after the OP.)
I do understand why some people think it is demeaning to refer to an adult female human as a “girl” rather than as a “woman”. In some circumstances I in fact agree that it is degrading if the term “girl” is used to belittle the woman or if it is used in any other disrespectful manner.
Often, however, the term is not used pejoratively. It is simply used casually between peers. **Yes, I do understand that even though a term might not be meant in a pejorative sense that widespread casual usage can still have ill effects in a broader social context. ** But I would suggest that simply substituting the term “woman” is NOT a viable solution.
In modern usage of the English Language, YES:
“Girl" corresponds with “Boy”
“Woman” corresponds with “Man”
But, to suggest that calling and adult woman a “Girl” would be the same as calling an adult man a “Boy” simply isn’t accurate. We don’t use the term “Girl” to correspond with “Man”. . .
We use the term “Girl" to correspond with the term “Guy”.
This is used among peers in a casual context. If I’m talking to peers about my adult male friend I wouldn’t say: “I know a MAN who broke his leg riding his daughter’s skateboard.” And if you’re honest about it I’m sure very few of you would say that either. We would say: “I know a GUY who broke his leg riding his daughter’s skateboard.” The term “Man” is too formal sounding and is in contrast to the casual nature of the conversation.
Similarly, if I was in a bar and there was a band on stage I wouldn’t say “Who’s the MAN playing lead guitar? He Rocks!” I would say “Guy”. So if, in the same situation, it was a woman I **would say: “Who’s the GIRL playing lead guitar? She Rocks!” **, still with the same amount of respect. “Woman” would be just as out of place as “Man” would be.
Fact is we will not cease to use the term “Girl" in this manner until a substitute is widely accepted. To do this effectively would be very difficult especially since most people don’t recognize any harm being done by the current system. Personally, I’m O.K. with using the term “Girl" but am open to suggestions if anyone has an alternate term that works. However, I will reassert that “Woman" does not work for me in contexts where I would refer to a male as a “Guy”.
So. . .
Who’s the jane?
Who’s the betty?
Who’s the fem?