Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik feels so strongly about the word “girl” that she made a video to tell us not to use it unless we are referring to a female child. Here it is:
I’m a big fan of Ms. Bialik, and have great respect for her accomplishments (both artistic and academic), but she’s way out of touch here.
Often, people will come up to me and my guy friends and I and say, “How’s it goin’, boys?” and we don’t mind at all.
Nor do we feel “emasculated.”
I do the same thing, calling my friends “boys” when there’s more than one in the room.
“Ready for another beer, boys?”
Or what others think of as a man cave or the group that meets for breakfast on Tuesday morning, sometimes gets referred to as the “boys club.”
And nobody feels demeaned…
I often compliment my female friends by calling them a “pretty girl” and have never gotten anything but a sweet smile or gentle arm squeeze in return. And I’m talking about some of the most capable, accomplished, and confident examples of the female of the species you might ever meet. If any of them are offended, I hope they will tell me (and I would respect their wishes) but so far, that hasn’t happened.
We still refer to the time-honored practice of admiring the work of the Creator by males engaging in “girl watching” even when we are accompanied by our friends who were born female but identify as male (and please don’t insult our intelligence by pretending that the female of the species does not engage in a similar but reciprocal activity). Our wives call it the same thing but none of these far from shy and withdrawn beings have ever objected to the terms “boy” or “girl.”
I learned a long time ago (age 19 I think it was the first time) that females who are so hung up on the word “woman” that they are even offended when called a “lady” are just not that much fun to be around.
And since when is “sweet and cuddly” a bad thing?
(I get called that from time to time by a lady of whom I am particularly fond and I kinda like it!)
Daily Diatribe readers know I’m all about the power of words, and we should definitely be careful how we choose them, but Ms. Bialik misses the mark here.
Calling an adult female a “girl” or an adult male a “boy” is not demeaning unless intended to be so, and only those present will know the context.
A fixed rule like the one she is proposing about a single word is not productive.
I was raised to have and demonstrate special respect for the females I encounter, and one of the ways I do that (call me old-fashioned) is the traditional gestures of opening doors, pulling out chairs, and offering my hand to help a lady out of a car or van (or carriage!). The vast majority of ladies I’ve encountered appreciate these gestures even if they don’t take my hand (many do).
A small minority of women take it as an affront to their ability to open doors or stand up or sit down by themselves. I was even once screamed at in a foxhole for offering to let my female (Army) colleague shoot the machine gun first (a gesture I would have made to the other occupant of the foxhole, regardless of their gender)…. While I respect their wishes and opinion, I find that females who are comfortable enough in their own skin to be both a woman and a lady, without some knee-jerk feminist reaction to the word, “girl,” are much more likely to be someone I like to spend time with.
“Girl” or “boy” is not the same as “child,” Ms. Bialik.
A teenage girl would almost definitely be offended at being called a “child.” Such is the subtle nature of some aspects of our language.
There are many, many other words, exponentially and intentionally more offensive that we could be working on eliminating from common use. Need I make a list?
Ms. Bialik, you’re barking up the wrong tree.