Thursday, August 27, 2015

Girls or Women?

I was watching an episode of Big Bang Theory, a great sitcom with hilarious writing if you can ignore the premarital sex. Leonard, Raj, and Howard (three of the main characters) were at a party along with a lot of young females who looked to be in their early twenties and whom Leonard and his friends consistently call “girls.” Not women – girls.  No big deal, right?

What if the situation had been reversed? If the room had been full of males in their early twenties, would the writers of the show have called them boys? Probably not. When males reach adolescence we often shift to calling them guys. We don’t consider them children anymore, but we’re not ready to call them men yet. We have this term somewhere in the middle – guys. It works nicely.

Granted, males at middle age may say they are “going out with the boys,” and we understand that they are going out with other adult males. But generally, we stop calling males “boys” sometime in the teen years. By the time males are in their mid-twenties, we usually refer to them as guys or men. 

When it comes to females, we don’t make the same change. A seven-year-old female is a girl, and a twenty-five year old female is a girl.  Why?

I suggest it’s because we don’t feel the need to treat females with the same respect.

Try this diagnostic test. Imagine you are addressing a small group of college-aged males whom you have known for years. Do you say, “I’m glad you boys could come tonight”? Or would that sound a bit disrespectful? If the group were female, would you feel comfortable saying, “I’m glad you girls could come tonight”? Is there a difference? Give it some thought and listen to yourself. I’ve caught myself calling young adult females “girls” when I would not call young adult males “boys.”

Do words matter?

The words are a symptom. The root of the problem is a lower view of women than men. Should we care? Does God care?

Does God frown on treating grown women made in God’s image as children? Does God disapprove when we don’t offer women the same respect we offer men?

Hmm . . . yeah, maybe.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post, Wendy. Thank you for raising our awareness about the subtle ways in which short-change women through common and ordinary language.