Calling a woman a “girl” might seem like just a term… but, is it just that? Language and how we refer to peoplematters. Imagine calling a 30-year-old woman or a teacher at the school a “girl”; it is condescending.
This specific word can have a connotation of immaturity, childhood, and vulnerability. In that way, calling women ‘girls’ actively infantilizes them. If we use this word to describe adult women, we are undervaluing and not equating them with adult men. This supports the notion that women are inferior to men. The term “girl” refuses to see women as a whole, autonomous people. Even if the intentions behind the word are not hurtful or degrading, we still internalize this message unconsciously.
When we call women as “girls,” we have to remember that even if our intentions are positive, others can be negatively impacted by our actions. By constantly using this terminology, we, as a society, are indicating women are more alike to children than to adults. This is incredibly disrespectful, not to mention disempowering.
If you are confused about this topic, it is okay! You just have to remember how many things our society has made us learn and now we have to unlearn them and unclutter our minds of outdated terms that are offensive or degrading.
Girls are normally under the age of 18 and usually live with their parents, whereas women might have a job, a diploma, and something to her name.
We never call adult men “boys” because it is demeaning, so, why call women girls? It is time to change the diminutiveness of women, and it is our responsibility. It starts with you, from recognizing how your words impact others. If you want to make sure people around you are doing the same, remember to always be polite and kind when correcting someone from calling women girls.
When we start to use the correct language (and not adjectives that have a sweet, small, nurturing connotation) to elevate women, we might treat them as they deserve. As women.
By Gersely Rios