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Author Topic: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'  (Read 6825 times)

sheltron5000

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2009, 12:56:42 PM »
I don't really agree with your analysis of the guy-girl rough equivalency. Whether or not what you propose is the case (I don't know the I'm qualified to comment one way or the other on its accuracy), the fact of the matter is that women have been and continue to be infantalized in many different ways, and referring to an adult female with the same word you would use to refer to a female child perpetuates that. Even if it isn't intended to do so, as you acknowledge, it is seriously flawed, so whatever arguments you have for why we do it aren't really germane to the question of if we should do it.

SBA, I agree with you on the gendered language issues, but it's hard to remove historical artifacts from language. You guys has certainly passed out of the genered relm, for example, I really doubt that even at women's philosophy conference (maybe not at a feminist conference but...) you would have to listen very long to hear "you guys," it's just so wide spread and almost totally grammaticallized (it has no real meaning other than 2p.pl.)


This is irrelevant to my point. As I have explicitly acknowledged, this isn't my biggest issue, and I agree that it has passed out of the gendered realm to a greater extent than many other phrases. That doesn't mean that I can't be opposed to it from the position that making male pronouns a default is inherently problematic...and that is my argument. This ties into another, larger argument about the ways that we understand maleness to be a default and femaleness to be Other. Whether I say "you guys," or object to other people saying it, isn't the most important aspect of the argument, but it's part of the general issue. Perhaps I didn't make that aspect of my objection explicit; it should be explicit now.


Which is really interesting considering that whole (xx/xy) thing.

I guess my issue, SBA, is that I am a fairly practical person, and the things you object to don't seem to have solutions. And truth be told, the reason I tried to think about why we use those words the way we do is that it IS germane to understand what the word MEANS when it is used, I give you the example:
Mostly, that was just for fun, but I think you see my point.

When I refer to the person making my coffee at starbucks as a girl, I don't mean a six year-old, I mean someone too young to really call a woman (indeed I imagine most people that age would look at me weird if I called them a woman), I think everyone would be able to tell from context which usage I mean, so confusion is not an issue.

So while I agree with you that there are some issues with applying the word in that way, since clearly some people take offense, which is not what I want,  I just don't see anyway to communicate the same information as efficiently without being insulting in some other way. (and frankly you're not offering one).

How do I differentiate in my everyday conversation between a 20 year-old woman and a 60 year-old woman?
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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2009, 01:01:56 PM »
I don't really agree with your analysis of the guy-girl rough equivalency. Whether or not what you propose is the case (I don't know the I'm qualified to comment one way or the other on its accuracy), the fact of the matter is that women have been and continue to be infantalized in many different ways, and referring to an adult female with the same word you would use to refer to a female child perpetuates that. Even if it isn't intended to do so, as you acknowledge, it is seriously flawed, so whatever arguments you have for why we do it aren't really germane to the question of if we should do it.

SBA, I agree with you on the gendered language issues, but it's hard to remove historical artifacts from language. You guys has certainly passed out of the genered relm, for example, I really doubt that even at women's philosophy conference (maybe not at a feminist conference but...) you would have to listen very long to hear "you guys," it's just so wide spread and almost totally grammaticallized (it has no real meaning other than 2p.pl.)


This is irrelevant to my point. As I have explicitly acknowledged, this isn't my biggest issue, and I agree that it has passed out of the gendered realm to a greater extent than many other phrases. That doesn't mean that I can't be opposed to it from the position that making male pronouns a default is inherently problematic...and that is my argument. This ties into another, larger argument about the ways that we understand maleness to be a default and femaleness to be Other. Whether I say "you guys," or object to other people saying it, isn't the most important aspect of the argument, but it's part of the general issue. Perhaps I didn't make that aspect of my objection explicit; it should be explicit now.




How do I differentiate in my everyday conversation between a 20 year-old woman and a 60 year-old woman?

Simple, on bangability, ones bangable, the other not. This is a simple, non sexist, mature, adult way to look at the womenz
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CTL

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2009, 01:02:12 PM »
Young woman?
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sheltron5000

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2009, 01:03:39 PM »
Young woman?

WAY TOO FORMAL, in conversations where I would use the word "guy" people would be insulted if I started using young woman.
LSN

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'blueskies

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2009, 01:04:41 PM »
Lady? Or young lady?
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Jamie Stringer

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2009, 01:04:44 PM »

How do I differentiate in my everyday conversation between a 20 year-old woman and a 60 year-old woman?

"Young woman" or "older woman?"

Not that I'm judging because I use "girl" and "boy" all the time (as I mentioned before).  Not "boy" in the sense of "Come here, boy!" and with all the denotations that come along with that.  Really more like "This girl told me..." or "There's a cute boy that works at Starbucks." 

But I do avoid saying "You guys" so maybe I'm not a lost cause ;D
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sheltron5000

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2009, 01:04:55 PM »
Fortunately, most of us (except MA, young'un) are at an age where we really need to start using man and woman, so this conversation is really academic.

isn't it?
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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2009, 01:06:30 PM »
Fortunately, most of us (except MA, young'un) are at an age where we really need to start using man and woman, so this conversation is really academic.

isn't it?

LMFAO!

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CTL

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2009, 01:17:26 PM »
meh.  adolescence generally ends at 30.  or with children.  whichever.

I've got six years or until I get someone pregnant?  What a Friday! 
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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #39 on: February 20, 2009, 01:18:27 PM »
Which is really interesting considering that whole (xx/xy) thing.

I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to here. The othering issue?

Quote
I guess my issue, SBA, is that I am a fairly practical person, and the things you object to don't seem to have solutions. And truth be told, the reason I tried to think about why we use those words the way we do is that it IS germane to understand what the word MEANS when it is used, I give you the example:
[image removed for aesthetic purposes]
Mostly, that was just for fun, but I think you see my point.

When I refer to the person making my coffee at starbucks as a girl, I don't mean a six year-old, I mean someone too young to really call a woman (indeed I imagine most people that age would look at me weird if I called them a woman), I think everyone would be able to tell from context which usage I mean, so confusion is not an issue.

So while I agree with you that there are some issues with applying the word in that way, since clearly some people take offense, which is not what I want,  I just don't see anyway to communicate the same information as efficiently without being insulting in some other way. (and frankly you're not offering one).

How do I differentiate in my everyday conversation between a 20 year-old woman and a 60 year-old woman?

Why do you need a specific word to differentiate between a 20 year old and a 60 year old? If it actually matters, then you can and almost certainly will make it clear in other ways than calling the younger woman a girl. As I said above, clinging to a problematic usage because it's easy and efficient is laziness, pure and simple.

With respect to the germaneness argument...I say that it doesn't really matter to my point because I'm starting from the position that it does do things that are problematic and offensive to some people, which I think you've agreed with. If that's the case, it doesn't really matter to me where it came from. It's really just not what I'm concerned with.

And I am offering a solution: avoid gendered language when it's irrelevant, and err on the side of adult language when it's questionable where a person fits in. It certainly isn't a perfect solution, and nothing will be...language is complicated and full of baggage. But we can make choices that are better than others.