Social Question

rooeytoo's avatar

Does anyone call their baby daughter "the little woman?"?

Asked by rooeytoo (26880 points ) May 14th, 2012

I have heard many parents refer to their son as “the little man” but never a similar appellation for a girl. I wonder why that is. Do you have any ideas?

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42 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I’ve never heard “the little woman” except a few men who refer to their wives that way (which I don’t like). Weird.

ucme's avatar

I had this conversation with the wife just recently, not exactly as you mean, but similar.
We’ll very often say something to our boy along the lines of “You had a good day son?”, but wouldn’t dream of saying “You had a good day daughter?” to his sister.
One of those things that just doesn’t sound right I guess.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @augustlan little woman is used to refer to a wife by some. Following that line of thought, little man is never used for a husband. Little man for a man in general would be a slur of sorts. We have all seen or heard those talks boys get when dad goes away that now they are the man of the house, even young boys. Personally, I find this to be a horrific perceived pressure for a boy. I don’t think girls ever get such a talk if there mom goes away, do they?

@ucme I agree in English we don’t use daughter that way. In Spanish they do, my FIL refers to me as hija, which means daughter, when addressing me. In my family, my side of the family which is English speaking and American, neither son nor daughter is used in that way. Some people, some parts of the country (US) might address almost any boy they spend time with as son.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Well, it sounds dumb to me, both little man and little woman. I have heard the term “little lady” many times and not necessarily referring to a female child. My college age daughter got out of a stop sign ticket because the police officer called her “little lady” and she was infuriated. She went to court and educated the judge on the fact that many women do not want to be called a lady. He dismissed the ticket.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Good point. The term woman would not be used for a young child, it is for married females traditionally, although now also used for any adult woman. It is even used referring to her sexual experience, now she has become a woman. Lady is used for younger females typically. The division is the same as Miss and Mrs., or Miss and Ma’am, while men don’t have that division at all.

Bellatrix's avatar

No. I have never said this to my daughters. I did used to call my son ‘my little man’ when he was a boy sometimes.

And on that topic, when he visited the other day I said something “So how is your job going son?” At which he laughed….put on an old lady voice and said “oh you are on a slippery slope to old ladyhood mum, next it will be ‘hello sonny’ and then ‘hello sonny boy’”. He is a cheeky urchin. Good job I love him. He is right though. I have never called him ‘son’ like that before. No idea where that came from.

ccrow's avatar

@Bellatrix at least he didn’t offer to buy you an ear trumpet.

Bellatrix's avatar

Give him time @ccrow :-) He is cheeky enough.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I have called my son a “little man” before, but I think it has more to do with his look than anything else. Even strangers have commented about how my boys looked like a “little man” because of their facial structure and expressions. A friend of ours that has a little boy the same age as our youngest has even commented that our son doesn’t have that “baby” look that his son has.

I don’t have a daughter (yet), but I’ve never called a little girl a “little woman”. It does sound odd to me, even compared to “little man”. I can’t picture myself saying it.

thorninmud's avatar

We tend to infantilize females in general. It’s this peculiar value we place on “innocence”, a value that’s strangely gender-sensitive. Traditionally, there’s a subtle pressure for boys to “grow up” and for girls to remain girls.

cazzie's avatar

I have heard parents, especially fathers, refer to their daughters as ‘little lady’.

@MollyMcGuire – Apple not fallen far from the tree there, eh?

(My reference to my son as ‘Little Man’ also refers to a movie and how it resonates with my life, so it is a personal thing.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, I’ve never heard this. Of course, that doesn’t surprise me. People value manhood more than womanhood.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’ve heard people call their daughters “little lady”

Sunny2's avatar

I think we’ve probably heard “little girl” (Archie Bunker) but not little woman. “Daddy’s little girl” is common. On the other hand, we don’t refer to our sons as “little boy.” Why? I dunno.

marinelife's avatar

Because, in this country at least, the little woman is slang for the wife.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No, but when my husband and I are talking about one of our daughters, we usually ask each other, “The big one, or the little one?” :D

Coloma's avatar

Hahaha… no. I called my infant daughter ” my little sweet potato” and “fuss honey.” lolol

SpatzieLover's avatar

Little woman isn’t such a nice thing to say here @rooeytoo.
Little mama, yes.
Instead, young lady is more prevalent where I reside.

YARNLADY's avatar

We used to say “Little Lady” when my nieces were little.

Trillian's avatar

I call my son ‘son’ sometimes, or ‘little mister’ when I’m irritated with him.
I call my youngest daughter ‘Daughter’ often. Always have. It feels special to me.

rooeytoo's avatar

I personally was thinking along the line of @thorninmud & @Simone_De_Beauvoir. The world in general wants females to remain child like and submissive and the term woman has a strength to it that is often viewed as undesirable in a female. As was said “little lady” is more acceptable because it doesn’t have that implication of strength or independence, it is again more of a submissive label. Whereas males don’t labor under the same cultural view, they are supposed to be the take charge ones. As @JLeslie pointed out, it does gives males that adult role even when they are too young to assume it.

Fly's avatar

…Anybody else immediately think of Little Women?

You make a good point, though. I’ve never really thought about the fact that we don’t say such things to girls, but I have always thought that calling your son “little man” was just odd. I wonder how we even started calling boys that, and why it didn’t catch on with girls as well?

rooeytoo's avatar

@Fly sometimes I wonder if I put too much into seemingly innocent actions. I remind myself of a conspsiracy theorist on occasion. But then again, look around you and it does make me wonder!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good question!

To me, the term “little woman” is mildly insulting. It conjures up an insensitive, arrogant husband discussing the “little woman,” who stays home and cooks and cleans and makes beds and makes her husband happy. She doesn’t discuss politics and doesn’t worry about the finances, mainly because she’s too dumb. If it was applied to a baby, I think the implication will be that she’ll never be more than that.

“The little man,” on the other hand, implies that he’s going to grow up to be a “big man,” and all of the “power” that implies.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Apparently no one can post a question with “woman” or “man” in the title/details without someone going off about gender bullshit. I seriously doubt that the reason we don’t hear “the little woman” in regards to little girls is because the parents somehow value “manhood” more. It’s simply not a “used” phrase.

Actually, we have referred to our little one as “the princess boss”, but I’m sure that could somehow be construed as placing too much importance on her fucking gender. I’m gonna go bang my head against a wall now.

Coloma's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Banging heads with you…absurd, over hyped, extremist, militant bullshit!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Will you please headbutt me a little more gently? Ouch!

Coloma's avatar

The head banging will die down after a happy brownie. lol

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No, no, no… special brownies must now include maryjane, xanax and prozac.

rooeytoo's avatar

Well thank you, I appreciate your giving my question a serious reply. Now don’t give yourselves concussions as you bang away.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I gave a serious reply further up, before I noticed yet another comment was made about victimization due to gender issues, which has absolutely nothing to do with why we don’t call little girls “the little woman”. It was just another opportunity to preach about a cause, and twist a question into “look at me and what I fight against”. So all seriousness went out the window.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a question that reads, “Would any of you ladies like some fabulous chicken recipes?”, then to see a comment like, “Are you asking this of women because you think a woman’s place is in the kitchen, you sexist jerk?” Not everything has to do with gender inequality, and frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing about it every time someone dares to mention women and men here.

rooeytoo's avatar

I personally think there is still a lot of gender inequality. I see it everyday all around me. And I also think this is just one more subtle example of it. I asked the question to see if others see it the same way I do and to learn how others view what I consider to be an interesting situation that could be another subtle example of it. And I tend to speak out against it so that young girls will not have to fight the fights I have in my lifetime.

It is certainly your privilege to disagree. As I said, I hope you don’t give yourselves concussions in the process.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, here’s the thing about gender. I am sure my dad thought of me as his little girl. He called me sweetie for years. He also asked me why I didn’t go out for football when I wanted to be a cheerleader in third grade. When I said I wanted to marry someone rich, he said, “you can become rich, you can make your own money.” In my house I had terms I was called about being pretty and girly, but also smart and athletic. I amm 44 years old. Do girls of today still really perceive an inequality? Not grown women, but don’t girls assume they will have careers, go to college, play sports? Except for some extreme circumstance I think they do. Little woman just isn’t used for girls. So part of it is just common usage as said above, and part of it is the implied meaning of the word woman. Not the implications of female vs male (even though I did say above a man is a man whether single or married, whether a virgin or not). Women have breasts and hips, and more angular facial features than children, young girls look very different than women.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@rooeytoo Well, all I’m saying is that I don’t see anything about gender inequality being the cause for parents not referring to their daughters as “the little woman”. “The little woman” has been used for years upon years, in reference to a wife. “My old lady” has also been used. My husband sometimes calls me his “old lady” as a joke, not because he thinks his penis somehow makes him superior.

I think claiming that not calling little girls “the little woman” due to gender issues, is something that people think of when they have their own gender issues.

YARNLADY's avatar

We have also called the small girls in our family little princess and the boys little king. I suppose we predisposed them to grow up as royalty. Among the nieces, nephews and grandsons, one of the girls and one of the boys have grown up to choose same sex partners.

rooeytoo's avatar

@YARNLADY – there you go, the boys are kings and the girls are princesses, submissive to the king. At the very least they should be queens.

I call it the way I see it. I have a niece who is interning in internal medicine right now. She is still fighting for equality even though women doctors are commonplace now. I have a granddaughter who is apprenticing as an airline mechanic, what she goes through is testament to her determination to succeed. So equality ain’t here yet.

I think all of these subtle little nuances of everyday life, add up to still make life difficult for a young woman trying to break into the man’s world atmosphere that still exists whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. If you look back in fluther you can see threads where it was said females don’t like going fast that is why there are not more women driving race cars, girls don’t like engineering and on and on. So if my noticing it is indicative of my own gender issues, I will gladly own that one, and continue to fight for equality and the elimination of subtle sexist slurs wherever they hide! I will seek truth and justice, oh wait that is Superman, what does the Bionic Woman say??? (have you concussed yourself yet?)

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo My FIL calls his granddaughter queen. It’s in Spanish. He actually says, “my queen.” It’s sweet actually.

I wouldn’t use any of those terms, only because they don’t come to me naturally.

Princess conjures up the slur JAP, so it sounds odd when I hear it used.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ JLeslie – Thankfully my dad never called me his little princess or any such nicknames, he always called me by my given name and I like that.

But being the queen would sure beat being the princess!

YARNLADY's avatar

I often called them all “pumpkin” as my mother called us, and none of them turned into vegetables.

Let me hasten to affirm that I believe in using PC terms to help overcome inequality.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I like pumpkin. I’m going to start calling my husband that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is “pumpkin” about the same as “butthead”? If so, I’m going to start calling my husband that.

rooeytoo's avatar

Yeah, pumpkin is probably politically correct so I won’t comment on that. I call my husband silly goose on occasion and really I should be calling him silly gander!

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