I mentioned in my last post about how the women on the show are referred to as girls. Well this carries over into the facebook group and all the posts there. Well I finally took a stand and said what I thought of this practice. Not suprisingly, many of the women posting there say that they take it as a ‘compliment’ when they are called a ‘girl’ or ‘girly’ or the really offensive ‘chick’. The are all wondering why I care about this so much.

it is evident by their comments that they have little no underdstanding of discourse theory. They do not seem to understand that language has power, it shapes how we perceive people and things. When a woman is referred to as a ‘girl’ one immediately things of the qualities of a pre-pubescent female: giddy, silly, uneducated etc. They do not think of strong, talented women who know their own minds. The more we as women accept this terminology and allow ourselves to be referred to as girls the more we undermine our own position in society. How can we ever hope to achieve equality (and no, we have not achieved equality yet) if we allow ourselves to be demeaned in this fashion?

I fail to understand why I am fighting women on this issue. It frustrates me to no end that as a feminist quite often it is other women who don’t get it. How on earth can we expect men to treat as equals when some of us relish being treated as less?

12 thoughts on “More Maria frustration…

  1. I don’t think women necessarily relish being treated as second-class or infantile, I just think the average person is lacking in analysis. I don’t think the majority of people are really politically aware, & by politically, I don’t mean which idiotic party to vote for in the government… Critical thinking & a real analysis of how oppression works, how the economy works, etc. is not exactly front & centre in our education system or in the way most people raise their children.

    A lot of ‘common sense’ ‘wisdom’ also leads people to believe that words have no power. Remember hearing this? “Sticks & stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. Obviously this is not true, otherwise why would anyone get offended when sworn at or called a racial slur?

  2. I think you have really nailed it Lisa – it is about analysis and how oppression works. I think it is easy for a lot of people to just live their comfortable and privileged lives without a second thought about the ramifications.

  3. Words hurt, and they are meant to hurt. “Us” and “them” is the most basic of examples of two words meant to keep “other”, “lesser”, “different” or “bad” people and communities in their places.
    Those with power get to choose the words that affect everyone, regardless of whether that power is legitimate, earned or stolen. Men have power. That’s why adult women are being infantalized, demonized and objectified by men. It’s far worse for feminists, lesbians, aboriginal women, women of colour, sex trade workers, the addicted, mentally ill, the list goes on and on.
    Women have been treated as “others” for so many centuries that it now appears to be the norm, not the exception, to accept less than equality. While mixed sex groups of people who have been denied equality are now demanding an egalitarian society, women, as a group, are still putting up with wolf whistles, “hey baby” and “ho”.
    Fighting oppression when the oppressed are unaware they are being oppressed is a pretty tough sell.

  4. Have to disagree strongly here. In many cultures one expresses affection by altering words to their child form or using words for little children…like “baby” in English. Certainly no male is asserting that the woman is an infant.
    But as usual the “feminists” turn everything around and make it something bad. Like they did with the medical testing issue where suddenly the male desire to protect women by mostly testing things on men became evil sexism that kept women from being tested and blah blah blah.
    Men commit suicide four times as often, die in war far more often, live shorter lives, are the vast majority of the homeless and insane, are more obese and more often addicted to drugs and drink….it aint a picnic over here.
    Finally let me say that as long as men are still held to the traditional standards by women they will keep filling the traditional roles. Find me a man who fits the femininst ideals of male behavior and I will show you a man who lives alone and does not date much. I know from personal experience.

  5. Where on earth did you get the idea that medical testing was only done on men out of a desire to protect women? How paternalistic. So, in essence what has happened is that woman have been infantalized (so that men can take care of them) and our health has suffered as a result.

    Please don’t boo hoo to me about the lot of men. If you are a white straight male this world is yours for the taking. You will make more money, have a wife to bear your children and keep the house clean, cook your meals all the while she is also out working full time.

    It is only because women have the protecting effects of estrogen that we live longer than men on average.

  6. Oh and before I forget, there are lots of men who are feminists. Just check out the blog at Shakesville.

  7. For the person who believes using the word “girls” for adult women is not oppressive, consider why caucasion Americans called African American men “boy”. If not to “keep them in their place”, if not to deny them full maturity, if not to highlight the power differential between adult males who are “white men” and adult males who are “(black) boys” – why then?

  8. This is not about culture “Carmi”, it is about political will. “Culture” is used as an excuse for subjugating women and girls since time began. Culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behavior of a particular nation or people, from which society takes the narrow view that all people of a certain group agree with the way of life they have been forced to live due to accident of birth.
    There is not a level playing field between women and men. I think that is a given, and few ( unless totally dense or totally brainwashed) will disagree. Women make up pretty much 50% of the population in any given country, but are they fairly represented in governments? Women make less money for work of equal value. Single mothers and their children, abandoned by partners and fathers, live in grinding poverty. Women are murdered by their partners with alarming frequency. Honour killings, women murdered by fathers, brothers, cousins, sons, happen with even more alarming frequency.
    I have no sympathy for the male of the species, whining and snivelling that they are becoming “marginalized”. Anytime a woman or group of women take their power back is a time to celebrate. Women have a long way to go to reach equality, don’t expect us to ask permission to take what’s ours.

  9. I used that very example Jean and they still did not get it. For some reason it does not offend them to be called girls. I don’t get it.

  10. I suppose for me, saying something like, “let’s call all the girls and go camping” – it just sounds inclusive, like a bonded group, who are there for each other. Supportive and strong.

    Women just sounds…biological. To me.

    I’ve heard both used incorrectly. “Hey, woman!” in a derogatory way, or basically the same thing with the word girls.

    About the term boys for men of African descent…it’s so wrong. Though I do fail in that I can’t see the evil of that (and all that happened/went with it) compared at all to a term for women that is more often used as an endearment. When my grandmother talks about the times with “her & the girls”, she practically glows. This was a community of strong women who raised strong daughters (both of my aunts on that side are VERY in charge of their lives – and most of my female cousins and their little girls seem to be made of FIRE inside). Lilly, the three-year-old, wants to be a mountain climber already…and is totally serious about it. Awesome. 🙂

    I am so sorry for rambling, my thoughts are fast and have a lot of meandering paths. 🙂

  11. In your first example and the one about your grandmother it is the women themselves referring to each other as girls. That is different. There is no power imbalance present.

    I guess I don’t understand why you see one instance (the use of girl amongst women and to refer to women) but is is ‘so wrong’ when boy is used with African American men. There is a discrepancy here.

  12. For one, I hear females call males “boys” just as often as I hear males call females “girls”, so I don’t see where inequality comes into play.

    I do believe language, combined with other forms of communication, have power. However, I do not believe a word has only one power. There is context, inflection, intention, and probably many more layers to be found in language.

    Take for example the word “smart”. At first, this appears to be a completely complimentary word, but it can easily be used to make a negative comment regarding someone’s attitude.

    In general, I think common sense should be used when waving the flag of anti-oppression. Oppression is a curse on humanity and I would hate to see the movement that has been building up against it over the last half century to lose momentum because of over-analysis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s