Girls vs Women

15 Sep

Are you aware of when you use “girls” as opposed to “women” and in what context you use them? I know a lot of people who aren’t, and whenever I hear them use the terms incorrectly it drives me up the wall. There is a bias in our society of referring to full grown adult women as “girls”. They are not “girls”! They are women. Get it straight. A friend of mine went to Mary Baldwin College and would rightfully flip out whenever anyone referred to it as a “girl’s school”.  “No!” she would correct them, “It’s a College for women, not a ‘school for girls’!”

The idea of referring to women as girls is a holdover from back in the days of rampant misogyny, and thankfully, I think it’s slowly phasing out. I think part of the problem might be written into the English language.

  • Boys
  • Guys
  • Men

As opposed to

  • Girls
  • Women

People want use “guys” and “girls” in the same casual way, but “girls” also has the double meaning of immaturity and dependency that “guys” doesn’t carry. Since “women” sounds too cold and formal, people revert to “girls” despite it being inappropriate to refer to female adults as such. Thus I usually try to use “gals” or “ladies”, despite the fact they don’t quite translate the exact connotations as “guys”.

I know this might sound overly anal, but I’m also that jerk who cares about the proper usage of who vs whom and good vs well. Sorry for being educated. <.<

5 Responses to “Girls vs Women”

  1. teo September 17, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Never looked at it from that point of view. Usually if someone calls me a girl, I take it as a compliment for looking young or something. But in the context I have to say that in German and in Bulgarian you have a couple more alternatives to “women” and the direct translation of “girl” is rarely used.

  2. godlesspaladin September 17, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Was sagen Sie? Frau, Mädchen? Etwas Anderes?

  3. teo September 17, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    The equivalent to “guys” in German is (for me) “die Mädels”, which may come from “Mädchen”, but at least with my language understanding it has the same function as “the guys” in English. I would never use “Mädel” for describing a little girl, there could be big regional differences in these things in Germany though 🙂

  4. godlesspaladin September 17, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    Cool, thanks! I took German all throughout high school and in college, but I’m still horrible at it. >.< I never get to practice it so I lose it. The regional thing might be it. Are you in northern Germany? My professor was Bavarian, so he was teaching us southern dialect.

  5. teo September 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    I’m in the north, the Bavarians have a really funny way of talking, it’s almost a whole new language…

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