This started as a twitter conversation with @Alexwintermute @lynnschreiber @ladycurd and @queenofbiscuits about insults and defining the acceptability of words. Actually, it had to do with calling people “love” and “duck” and “hen”; whether or not they are offensive or worth calling people on. I’ve been contemplating what I said for a few days now [you can also read that as too lazy to type my thoughts up] and this is my semi-illiterate musings since I wrote it at 3 am.
So, whilst I’m not necessarily enthused about strangers calling me terms of endearment, I wouldn’t ask them not to; unless they were using it in a patronising or offensive manner. I would, however, consistently call people out on using the term “girl” to define or describe me [or anyone else]. I find the term “girl” extremely offensive. We do not use the term “boy” to define adult men so why is it acceptable to use the word “girl” to define adult women. “Girl” is only used to objectify and belittle women. Yes, some women do like to use the term but I think that is because of patriarchal constructions of beauty which assume that older women aren’t worthy or important. There are only two constructions of women in the patriarchy: fuckable and unfuckable. Older women and those who do not conform are invisible; unworthy. Therefore, to remain “visible” women have to conform to the patriarchal definitions of beauty which privilege youth. So, women call themselves “girls” whilst spending fortunes on “beauty” products to make themselves look younger. They stop expressing their opinions for fear of being labeled a hag. Women become infantile to prevent bullying [and I certainly don’t blame any women for choosing this path. Being a target of hatred by the Patriarchal establishment is frightening].
I think, though, that “girl” is an incredibly misogynistic term used to silence women and its use, regardless of context, hurts women. There are other words which are misogynistic in usage, such as the use of “blonde” but it does not carry same level of systemic and structural oppression that “girls” implies. Blonde is inexcusable as an insult. “Girls” represents structural misogyny and the erasure of women from culture. And I don’t think individual ‘choice’ is a good enough excuse to use a term whose structural usage is the erasure of adult women from discourse. The “choice” doctrine is individualistic, narcissistic twaddle designed to elide structural and systemic oppressions from discourse; whether this be misogyny, racism, or homophobia. It merely obfuscates the issue and blames those who have neither the wealth nor the specific skill set to overcome oppression [usually this bit involves kicking a football around a field or being grossly over-paid to appear on shite TV programs].
The capitalist-Patriarchy profits off the insecurities of women; you only need view Boots’ horrendous “Here Come the Girls” advertising to realise just how much money is to be made making women feel old and ugly. I won’t buy products from any company which tries to label me “girl” and I assume any man using it as a compliment is either thick or sexist; neither of which are particularly attractive. “Girl” represents all that is wrong with rape culture and misogyny. We need to stop using it and stop pretending we can re-appropriate it from those who cause us harm.