I was catching up on reading at Female Science Professor’s place and came across her post: Women Girls.
FSP, as far as I can tell, seems to be saying that the young ones these days are all hip with the term “girl” for women even into their 30’s because…I don’t know why, it’s a peer thing, and we old biddies wouldn’t understand. We must accept that the times they are a-changing. Girls just wanna have fun?
Perusing the comments, I gather that “woman” is stodgy, or P.C. (!), and too mature and “girls” these days are putting off adulthood, and can’t think of themselves as women.
To this, I say, what a load of horsecrap we have have been sold…
As other commenters noted, if you are a secretary, no matter how old you are, your (usually male) boss is going to refer to you as a girl, and that is not meant as a status enhancer. (Probably he is also just the sort of douche to tell you to smile.)
One theory proffered was that our society loves youth, that we resist growing old, and that young women today resist labeling themselves as women because they are clinging to youth culture. Instead, they hold on to the status of girlhood.
Again, this is complete and utter bullshit.
Boys are ever, ever so anxious to reach the status of manhood, aren’t they? What “boy” in his mid-twenties or early thirties daydreams about being referred to as a boy, instead of a man? Ask a man of color how good it feels to be called, imperatively, a boy. (This was also noted in at least one of the comments on FSP’s post.)
Girls, however, musn’t ever grow up. That would be too scary. They might stop smiling!
Okay, so the horseshit sandwich you’re eating is this: we want our men to be manly old dudes and we want our women to represent eternal youth and loveliness and girlhood. So grown women want to call themselves girls – and yet girls in our culture have, if possible, an even lower status than that of women. If you doubt this, just ask any boy what are the two worst things he can be accused of acting like: a girl, and gay. Girls may be admonished not to be tomboyish but their status is not really diminished by adopting (what are considered to be) boy-like traits.
The problem, my friends, is not that we lack a good word equivalent to “guy” to use for women/girls. The problem is that women are so universally despised that no one wants to grow up to be one, and girls are so looked down upon that girlhood has become a tarted up caricature of womanhood, and real girls have no room left to breathe. The problem is that the patriarchal backlash wasn’t content to settle for just making grown women afraid to describe themselves as feminists even when they hold many core beliefs that could be described as feminist in nature. No, it had to go a step further, dirty up and taint the word woman, make grown women fearful of claiming a word that describes their adult status even as d00ds all around them are desperately striving to prove their manful d00dliness.
I was a girl once, and it was wonderful. I ran around in the woods and fields, I played hopscotch and jumprope, I played with baby dolls and Barbie dolls, I brought my mother dandelion bouquets that she put in shot-glass vases, I read books, I went on camping trips with my family, I laughed, I skinned my knees every summer, I went fishing with my dad, I got a dime from mom for ice cream cones when the Goody-Goody ice cream truck came around town, I went to the firemen’s carnival and rode all the rides, and best of all, I sat with my younger sister and my beloved Pappap in his favorite chair to watch Gunsmoke and when he wanted an Oh Henry! candy bar one of us would drag a chair over to the counter and climb up and reach the top cupboard and get him one and then he would say “and get one for yourself and for your sister, too”.
And then then I was a teenager, and high school was awful like it is for everyone, and then I grew up.
I am not a girl.
I am a goddamn woman, and you better believe you will hear me roar. Because I most definitely know too much to go back and pretend I am a little girl. I am strong. STRONG. I am fucking invincible. I am WOMAN.
Now take a look-see at Helen Reddy on the Midnight Special – yeah, that’s how we did our feminism back then, in elephant bell jeans, live, and on stage at t.v.’s funky musical variety show. And once you’ve looked, consider whether you might want to stop calling yourself girl, recognize that you are woman, think about what actual little girls today need from grown woman in this crazy world we live in – and maybe give a little roar.