Men Aren’t Boys, so Why Are Women Called “Girls”?

Have you ever heard a man refer to himself as a “big boy”? I’m betting no. Now take a second and think if you’ve ever heard a man or, worse, a woman referring to a woman as a “big girl.”  I’m betting yes. Why the difference?

Men rarely ever reference themselves in a fashion that detracts from their manhood. The last time a man in your life was going through a rough situation, did he ever declare, “I’m a big boy! I’ll get through it!” I somehow doubt it.

Yet, turn on practically any episode of “The Bachelorette” and listen to both the male contestants and the bachelorette herself refer to her as a “big girl.”

“I’m a big girl. I can handle myself.”

“She’s a big girl. She knows what she’s doing.”

And, of course, there’s Lena Dunham’s equally lauded  and bashed show, “Girls.” While it’s true that some of the females on the show act in a childish fashion, they also engage in some very adult activities. But, I suppose the producers decided that calling the show “Women” or “Ladies” just wouldn’t have enough appeal.

Remember Sarah Michelle Gellar’s show, “Ringer”? In it, SMG’s character refers to herself as a girl. (Go to :24 in the video.) Now, all due respect to the wonderful SMG, but you’re 36 years old. Your character doesn’t look like a girl. Couldn’t you have mentioned to the writers (or couldn’t the writers have thought for themselves) that declaring, “You have the wrong woman” would work just fine?

How about when women reference a girls’ night out? Nope, ladies, sorry. Your evening plans usually entail drinking alcohol, which girls aren’t allowed to drink, let alone purchase. Your fun times may happen in a bar or other adult establishment, where girls can’t go. It may last into the wee hours of the morn, when girls should be sound asleep in their own beds. So, no, ladies, have your ladies night out, but leave the girls to their sleep-overs and Disney channel marathons.

Girls gone wild? That would be child pornography. Yet somehow “women gone wild” doesn’t have the same tawdry allure, which is a good thing. Why? Because “women” indicates maturity and sense, and attributes displayed by adults (hopefully).

We live in a world where women are inundated with images and language that encourage, cajole, and pressure us to infantilize ourselves. Look younger! Dress younger! Be younger! Get rid of the wrinkles. Why celebrate womanhood when that makes you old, boring, and undesirable? Be a girl and stay young, interesting and desirable forever!

Well, enough. I say “woman” isn’t a dirty word. It’s a badge of honor. It means you’ve grown, lived, experienced and, hopefully, flourished. It should be empowering to call yourself “a woman!” Men don’t refer to themselves as boys. It’s time for women to stop referring to themselves as female children and start embracing who they are and what they’ve been through and accomplished to become WOMEN.

3 thoughts on “Men Aren’t Boys, so Why Are Women Called “Girls”?

  1. I agree – women are held to an unrealistic standard, a standard both reinforced by women, men, media, society. It seems like there is this short window of opportunity between dreading and celebrating the start to menstrual cycles to the excitement of going to the prom, marching down the aisle with The Gown, having a baby, and then, searching for the fountain of youth again!


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