Social Question

Plucky's avatar

What is your opinion on women being called girls?

Asked by Plucky (10282points) April 10th, 2012

As asked. By women I mean adult females.

Are you not bothered by it? Or does it annoy you? Maybe you prefer it? Does it depend on who uses the term?

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52 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Is this question directed towards women?

My rule, as a man, is to call any woman I suspect is over 30 young lady or in a group, girls.

Any woman younger than thirty should be addressed as Ms. or ladies.

ragingloli's avatar

It is just a pretty obvious hint that most men are secretly paedophiles.

Plucky's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought The question is directed toward anyone.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t mind. What I hate is men being called girls to encourage them to work harder.

Bellatrix's avatar

It depends on the context (I seem to say that a lot). Mostly, I don’t care if people use the term girls but there are situations when it can feel very patronising. Then I would probably get snotty and say I am a woman, not a girl.

rooeytoo's avatar

@YARNLADY – oh yeah, that annoys me too especially since it is an accepted practice to refer to a group of females as “guys.”

I don’t like it. I can think of no situation where adult women should be addressed as girls (unless they do it to each other, I guess that is okay).

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I’m sure some people use that term quite innocently or even thinking it is flattering. But .. there’s a big difference between girls and women. As a grown woman, I don’t expect to be called a “girl”.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought did you present what you call women the right way around?

So you call women OVER 30, individually young lady or in a group girls.

And those under 30, Ms or ladies?

whitenoise's avatar

@Bellatrix I hope he did, else I would have to retract my lurve.


Bellatrix's avatar

I am over 30 and if a man called me ‘young lady’ I would find it exceedingly patronising. I am not young and I don’t need anyone to suggest I am.

tom_g's avatar

I find it extremely odd. It’s rare that I come across this, but when I do it’s just confusing. I mean, we have a word to describe an adult human female: woman. If you refer to an adult human female as a girl, I’ll assume one of the following:
a) You have not yet learned the term “woman”.
b) You do know the difference between “girl” and “woman”, but are intentionally making some kind of statement.

If it’s (b), then I suspect that your intentions are not good.

ro_in_motion's avatar

If the person also uses ‘boys’, I have no issue. When a male says ‘What are you girls up to?’ I am tempted to respond: ‘Contemplating cutting your balls off.’ But that’s just me. :)

dabbler's avatar

I find using the terms “girls” and “boys” for adults goofy.
At best it seems like a nervous twitch trying to be cute.

ucme's avatar

I prefer the more ornithological route myself, chicks/birds.
I may even sometimes refer to them by name, I know, shocking eh?

wilma's avatar

I don’t particularly care for it for women who are over their early twenties.
I think it is OK if women are referring to themselves. “I’m going out with the girls tonight.”
I have always told my husband when he has referred to the women in his office as “the girls” that that was not acceptable. I suggested that he use “the gals” instead.
I prefer gals to girls. It seems to go along better with guys or the guys.

Blackberry's avatar

You can’t call them old and you can’t call them young. Woman is the best name since it’s neutral :)

lonelydragon's avatar

As a young teen and early twenty-something anxious to prove herself, I found it patronizing. Now that I’m past that age, I find it flattering that people think I look young enough to be a girl.

Mariah's avatar

I find this is especially awkward at the college age. It feels awkward to talk about the other “women” in my dorm. Too formal, I guess. “Girls” feels more natural – but it’s strange, because I wouldn’t refer to the guys as “boys.” They have the convenient term “guys” for which there is no good female equivalent (because let’s face it, nobody says “gals.”)

“Ladies” is the closest happy medium we have, I think.

I agree it’s patronizing to call women girls.

wundayatta's avatar

I have no problem being called a boy or calling a group of men boys, and I similarly have no problem using the term girls to refer to a group of women. As @Bellatrix said, it’s all in the context. You can do it without being derogatory. It’s a light-hearted thing to do. You will only take offense if you can’t tell the underlying meaning of the comment. Often, humor-challenged people have this difficulty, but humor is also about context and people don’t always read things the same.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I doesn’t bother me at all. I have never even given it much thought to be honest.

Trillian's avatar

Couldn’t care less. Life is too short to get my knickers in a twist because of someone else’s speech patterns. I can’t go around changing what other people say to suit me, nor do I have any intentions of trying. I realized the futility of needing to be right and just let it go. There are two things in this life that I can control. 1. What I say. 2. What I do.
But by the look of this and a couple other threads, I am struck again by the sheer power of words.

Akua's avatar

I never really thought about it before but I guess I agree with @Bellatrix. It’s not so much what you say sometimes but HOW you say it and the context. If a bunch of us are in a crowd and someone says: “Girls on this line, boys on that line”, I wouldn’t think twice about it. I have had older people smile at me and say that I look “like I’m just a girl” when they find out I am in my 40’s with grown children. That’s fine too. Now someone with an attitude stepping to me in an aggressive manner saying “listen up girl!” might get bitch slapped.

Keep_on_running's avatar

If someone said “men” and “girls” in the same sentence, yeah, I would be offended. Everything else is just context.

keobooks's avatar

I had a boss who called me “Little Missie” and “Girlie” once and didn’t understand how I found that demeaning. He said he called his own daughter that all the time. So I started calling him “Daddy” one afternoon. Suddenly, without any explanation, he stopped calling me girlie and little missie.

Keep_on_running's avatar

@keobooks Wow…nice one. That is just wrong and even more so seeing as it was your boss.

Makes you wonder how people like that actually get into positions of power.

Qingu's avatar

The problem as I see it is that there is no female-equivalent for the word “guys.” I think colloquially, many people use the word “girls” as a female-equivalent for “guys” (rather than “boys”) which is probably improper but may not be malicious.

Also, I like being called “young man,” but I don’t think I would like being called “young lady” because it sounds patronizing.

I don’t like using either of the words “man” or “woman.” Too formal and rigid.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Bellatrix sorry, just checking back in. I tend to do it in a flirty way. I haven’t noticed anybody get upset yet.

jca's avatar

I will call women friends “girls” as in “Hi, girls.”

digitalimpression's avatar

As a general rule I wouldn’t call an adult woman a girl. However, when you find the right woman.. one who isn’t so uptight about technicalities.. the occasional “what’s up girl?” when used at the right time is much preferred over “what’s up adult woman?”.

Sunny2's avatar

Some groups of women act like “girls” and deserve the appellation. I personally avoid them. They don’t care in the least. It may be a hold-over from high school.

Aethelwine's avatar

Doesn’t bother me at all.

tinyfaery's avatar

Girl, yes.
Woman, no.
Ma’am, no fuckin’ way.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I don’t like being referred to as a girl or a guy.

“Hi girls” or “Hey guys”...Ugh!

Plucky's avatar

Wow, a lot of responses. Thank you for the replies.

I guess I’ll put my two cents in. I really do not like the term girls for women. It sounds immature to me. If it is a man saying it, I find it disrespectful and immature. I usually say ladies or women. For men, I use men or guys.

However, as some suggested above, there is an exception. It does not bother me when a woman says “I’m going out with the girls tonight” or “Hey, girl!” ..I don’t know why.

6rant6's avatar

Mostly, I don’t like to be called a girl.

Bellatrix's avatar

Thank you @Imadethisupwithnoforethought for your explanation. I am quite sure you mean no offence by it but to give you some insight as to how I would receive such a comment, even if you were being flirty. I would find it irritating and possibly demeaning. Firstly because I think I am probably older than you and I have a lot of life experience under my belt. Secondly, I feel ‘young ladies’ should be reserved for teens or pre-pubescent females. I am also not ashamed of my age. I am very happy being a mature woman and I see no need to even flirtatiously suggest I am younger than I actually am. I would find it more appealing if a man found me attractive as a mature aged ‘woman’.

Also, there really isn’t a male equivalent. I don’t think I can recall hearing a woman saying hey boy, young fellow or laddie (or whatever other words there are for young men) to a man unless they WERE putting them down. I don’t think we do that because it is demeaning.

6rant6's avatar

@Bellatrix You will hear the senior set say, “The boys are golfing.”

Bellatrix's avatar

That is different though @6rant6. I said way up there, it depends on the context. If there is a group of people and someone says boys on this side, girls on the other… I wouldn’t give a rats. If you come up to me and directly call me young lady, it will most likely fall very flat and I will not be impressed. I am a mature woman, not a ‘young lady’. I haven’t been a young lady since I was a teenager.

6rant6's avatar

@Bellatrix I didn’t call you a young lady, although that’s very interesting that it has been so long. I was responding to your comment that there is “no male equivalent” when I offered “the boys are playing golf.” I assumed you meant there was no male equivalent to “girls.” I was suggesting that “boys” was an equivalent.

I’d be surprised to learn that there was any collective noun that didn’t rub someone the wrong way. I know for myself, that there is no collective noun I won’t argue with if if has anyone portraying me as a golfer.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Bellatrix But you are a young lady to an 80 year old man. Would you be offended if a senior came up to you and called you a young lady? just asking

Bellatrix's avatar

Probably not to the same extent @jonsblond but @Imadethisupwithnoforethought (the person I was responding to and who said he calls all women over 30 young ladies and all those under Ms. or ladies) is not over 80. I am almost certain he is younger than me and he admits he does it to be flirty. I don’t find it flirty. Also, I still don’t think I am a young woman to an 80 year old. I am a mature-aged woman. I am younger than an 80 year old man but that does not make me a young woman.

I also can’t recall an elderly man referring to me that way either. It would be fairly familiar if they did. I would think I would know them pretty well if they called me that. Most senior men I work with for instance would never be so familiar. They would call me by first name or my title.

Sorry @Imadethisupwithnoforethought I am not trying to attack you on this. Your choice of what you call women is interesting though.

Qingu's avatar

My grandpa sometimes says that he is going out or playing poker with his “boyfriends.”

I think we would say in this modern age “guy friends” or “dudes.”

The times, they are a-changin’.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Bellatrix I will be careful; I have been in the habit for ages, however. My last 2 female bosses, who were both in their fifties, told me they loved it when I called them that. So I will blame them for reinforcing my poor manners.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Bellatrix I was only curious if the age of the person who might say these words to you made any difference to you at all. (Since the word girl doesn’t offend me at all.) I’m just trying to understand. Thanks for answering. =)

Bellatrix's avatar

Hope my answer explained my perspective. And welcome.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m ambivalent about it. I’d much rather be referred to by my name if someone is addressing only me or, if I’m in a group I’d prefer ladies.

I’ve heard the term girls used in a manner that was intended to be dismissive and condescending.

As with so many things in life: intent is key.

ninjacolin's avatar

I never thought anyone cared.
Groups of guys are boys groups of gals are girls, age independent.
I guess I did think of it as an informal word choice, yes, but not an offensive one.

keobooks's avatar

I just wanted to mention a few things. I know sexism in the workplace is a really bad thing, but I think for things like this, education is more important than a lawsuit. I think my boss had good intentions, but he was clueless about working with women and calling him “daddy”, which wouldn’t have been offensive if his own “girlie” daughter called him that made sense to him. Even though he didn’t have bad intent, his calling my coworker “Mike” and me “girlie” was demeaning.

I don’t actually mind the term “girl” for women in a casual setting. I call myself girl sometimes. Usually I prefer “guy” for myself, but that’s just a thing about me. But a workplace is different. If everyone in the office is getting called by name, and you are “girlie” that’s a bad sign. It means you are not getting the basic respect allotted to everyone else. If everyone else in the office was “dude” instead of their first name, it wouldn’t have bothered me.

My mom once made a point to one of her coworkers. He told her not to go into the coffee lounge because everyone was making sexist jokes and she’d get offended. She asked him how he’d feel if my mom told him not to go into the lounge because everyone was telling really racist jokes and because he was black, he might get offended. He blanched and made a really sick face. But that hit home to him and he worked at cleaning up the lounge.

I think intent is important, but I think that in some places you should let things slide (total stranger who would have called you asshole instead of girl if you were a guy, for instance) but in other cases, you should speak up. Even if you have a sense of humor about it—if everyone else has a name, but you’re referred to by a word that describes your demographic, you need to fix it.

Plucky's avatar

I agree that intent is very important. I also think it can depend on who says it (sex/gender, age, like/dislike of that person, etc). And, of course, how well you know the person (and vice versa) plays an important role. The reasons are quite diverse.

The differing views on the matter are interesting.

Thank you for the responses everyone, I appreciate it :)

NomoreY_A's avatar

I have a tendency to do that, but I mean no disrespect by it. I’ve been doing it since adolescence at last, when most women my age group WERE girls, and I just never got out of the habit. My bad.

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