Author Topic: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?  (Read 1602 times)

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Offline Ħ

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Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« on: February 16, 2016, 08:54:11 PM »
In casual conversation with an acquaintance, I referred to a female friend of mine as a "girl". (She's twenty.) I was immediately called out as sexist. According to the accuser, the word is infantilizing (sp.?) and objectifying. I looked it up and, sure enough, there is heated debate over this.

Here is a terse opinion piece in the Guardian from 2014 on the subject if you are interested: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/is-the-word-girl-offensive

I've been thinking about it. I personally am not bothered by the word, but I certainly don't want to be offensive. I can see how it could be insulting/belittling. Nevertheless, we don't hear equal uproar over the words "boy" and "guy", so I am suspicious that my accuser was just being a persnickety stinker.

What you y'all think about this?
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Offline Implode

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2016, 09:44:26 PM »
I've never heard of anything like this...and I frequent Tumblr...

Offline El Barto

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2016, 10:10:02 PM »
The male equivalent of girl is boy. I could certainly see how I might wind up pissed off if somebody refers to me as a boy. But then again, I might not be. Depends on what was meant and intended by it.

It seems to me that being offended by something like that is a function of not wanted to be characterized as inferior. I think that's perfectly reasonable. It just seems to me that the better way to demonstrate yourself as an equal, or even superior, is to grasp the principle of context. You'll never convince me that you're not inferior if you're too fucking stupid to consider what was actually said to you in the first place.
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Offline pogoowner

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2016, 11:09:12 PM »
The male equivalent of girl is boy. I could certainly see how I might wind up pissed off if somebody refers to me as a boy. But then again, I might not be. Depends on what was meant and intended by it.

It seems to me that being offended by something like that is a function of not wanted to be characterized as inferior. I think that's perfectly reasonable. It just seems to me that the better way to demonstrate yourself as an equal, or even superior, is to grasp the principle of context. You'll never convince me that you're not inferior if you're too fucking stupid to consider what was actually said to you in the first place.
There was actually just an incident following Cam Newton's post-Super Bowl press conference in which Bill Romanowski referred to Newton as "boy." He was promptly attacked by the masses for being a racist POS and deleted the tweet.

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2016, 12:34:40 AM »
It might have a certain quality of disregard to it, but I don't think a blanket statement is all that useful. If I say something in conversation with other people and somebody says "Be quiet boy, the adults are talking", then yeah, I'll be offended. But that mainly because the other person was being a piece of shit and and they wouldn't stop being one if they used other words to say that they don't think my opinion is worth considering. And while "boy/girl" does lend itself to this kind of use, I still find it stupid to just say that a word is offensive in itself - there are perfectly inoffensive ways of using the words "boy" and "girl", so I find this kind of silly.

Also, while I think an argument could be made for it being problematic in that sense, I'm not really seeing the sexism. No doubt that it could be used in a sexist way, but then basically everything can, so... yeah.

I mean, I would probably not use it when talking to somebody, precisely because of the connotations I mentioned previously ("Listen, girl..." doesn't quite work for a conversation if you want to be respectful, I find), but for somebody to get offended on somebody else's behalf when a) it's clear that none of the unfortunate connotations where intended (I'm gathering you're not somebody who usually objectifies females and looks down on people younger than you, H :P ) and b) nobody is being offended in person, just some vague sense of how the world should work... well, I find that pretty stupid.

Whoah, those are some convoluted sentences that I just wrote, I hope I got my point across.
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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2016, 02:10:06 AM »
The male equivalent of girl is boy. I could certainly see how I might wind up pissed off if somebody refers to me as a boy. But then again, I might not be. Depends on what was meant and intended by it.

It seems to me that being offended by something like that is a function of not wanted to be characterized as inferior. I think that's perfectly reasonable. It just seems to me that the better way to demonstrate yourself as an equal, or even superior, is to grasp the principle of context. You'll never convince me that you're not inferior if you're too fucking stupid to consider what was actually said to you in the first place.
There was actually just an incident following Cam Newton's post-Super Bowl press conference in which Bill Romanowski referred to Newton as "boy." He was promptly attacked by the masses for being a racist POS and deleted the tweet.

I mean, the word "boy" does actually have a pretty nasty racial history. Even not taking that into account, it's still probably offensive, if not racist, to call someone like Newton "boy".

Offline kaos2900

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2016, 07:31:25 AM »
I typically try to use "Gal" when referring to women of my age. I'll use chick in a less formal environment. That being said, I don't see how girl is sexist. Just another example of people complaining about stupid shit. I do think it's dumb to refer to a grown woman as a girl but I don't think it's sexist.

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2016, 07:52:19 AM »
So if "girl" is offensive, does that mean that "girlfriend" is also out?
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Offline Adami

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2016, 08:04:49 AM »
So if "girl" is offensive, does that mean that "girlfriend" is also out?

Definitely. I've been using the phrase "You go, human companion -snap snap snap" for years.
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Offline bosk1

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2016, 08:11:43 AM »
So if "girl" is offensive, does that mean that "girlfriend" is also out?

Definitely. I've been using the phrase "You go, human companion -snap snap snap" for years.

The mental image of you actually doing that just sent me into a giggle fit.  :rollin
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Offline Chino

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2016, 08:13:29 AM »
So if "girl" is offensive, does that mean that "girlfriend" is also out?

She's my fucking lady friend. I'm just helping her conceive, man!

Offline El Barto

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2016, 08:15:08 AM »
The male equivalent of girl is boy. I could certainly see how I might wind up pissed off if somebody refers to me as a boy. But then again, I might not be. Depends on what was meant and intended by it.

It seems to me that being offended by something like that is a function of not wanted to be characterized as inferior. I think that's perfectly reasonable. It just seems to me that the better way to demonstrate yourself as an equal, or even superior, is to grasp the principle of context. You'll never convince me that you're not inferior if you're too fucking stupid to consider what was actually said to you in the first place.
There was actually just an incident following Cam Newton's post-Super Bowl press conference in which Bill Romanowski referred to Newton as "boy." He was promptly attacked by the masses for being a racist POS and deleted the tweet.

I mean, the word "boy" does actually have a pretty nasty racial history. Even not taking that into account, it's still probably offensive, if not racist, to call someone like Newton "boy".
Again, it's a matter of context. "Man, that boy really can play" is not the same thing as "you should have played harder, boy."
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Offline bosk1

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2016, 08:38:11 AM »
Even then, it isn't clear-cut, and there is still a lot left to context.  I would be offended by the former if said by a Grand Dragon of the KKK, and I would not be offended if the latter were said by Cam's dad.  Context is everything.  But, yeah, in case it isn't clear, I am agreeing with your point, Barto, as well as your specific example.  Just taking the argument a step further. 
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Offline j

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2016, 09:39:11 AM »
H, most women prefer to be called "broads."

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2016, 09:48:45 AM »
My first reaction to the OP was "uggghhhh :facepalm: is everything offensive?", but I realize I have thought before that the age at which a boy is referred to as a "guy" or "man" is much younger than for "girl" to "woman".  There is an inherent sexist element to that fact, but I never thought of it in that context.

It's telling that even though I can understand that this is offensive, and that maybe we need to change things a bit (I don't think its PC to refer to people as they wish, rather than how others wish*), I still had an anti-PC kneejerk reaction.

*In fact, I think the PC-hate can be flipped on its head, since I can say it is PC that you are offended by being asked to use "little person" rather than "midget", when that's what "little people" prefer to be called (maybe its yet another term they prefer.  I'm just using it as an example).

Offline Calvin6s

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2016, 10:18:48 AM »
,
« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 05:01:39 PM by Calvin6s »
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Offline TL

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2016, 10:45:02 AM »
Basically, it can be seen as condescending, especially if you're speaking to/referring to a woman you don't know well.
"Boy" isn't as problematic because men have historically had a lot more power and influence in society. Also, I feel like it's a lot less common to hear a grown man referred to as a boy (aside from the racist connotation, which is problematic for similar reasons; it's condescending).

While I'm sure most people who do it don't mean anything by it, I completely understand if a grown woman doesn't want to be referred to by a word meant to refer to a child, especially by men she doesn't know or doesn't know well.

Offline theseoafs

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2016, 11:45:30 AM »
In casual conversation with an acquaintance, I referred to a female friend of mine as a "girl". (She's twenty.) I was immediately called out as sexist. According to the accuser, the word is infantilizing (sp.?) and objectifying. I looked it up and, sure enough, there is heated debate over this.

Here is a terse opinion piece in the Guardian from 2014 on the subject if you are interested: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/is-the-word-girl-offensive

I've been thinking about it. I personally am not bothered by the word, but I certainly don't want to be offensive. I can see how it could be insulting/belittling. Nevertheless, we don't hear equal uproar over the words "boy" and "guy", so I am suspicious that my accuser was just being a persnickety stinker.

What you y'all think about this?

What exactly did you say about your friend?  I could see your acquaintance just being oversensitive, but I could also see you accidentally slipping up and committing a "microaggression".

I would agree with other people in this thread that whether this is offensive mostly comes down to context.

Offline Ħ

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2016, 05:38:05 PM »
In casual conversation with an acquaintance, I referred to a female friend of mine as a "girl". (She's twenty.) I was immediately called out as sexist. According to the accuser, the word is infantilizing (sp.?) and objectifying. I looked it up and, sure enough, there is heated debate over this.

Here is a terse opinion piece in the Guardian from 2014 on the subject if you are interested: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/is-the-word-girl-offensive

I've been thinking about it. I personally am not bothered by the word, but I certainly don't want to be offensive. I can see how it could be insulting/belittling. Nevertheless, we don't hear equal uproar over the words "boy" and "guy", so I am suspicious that my accuser was just being a persnickety stinker.

What you y'all think about this?

What exactly did you say about your friend?  I could see your acquaintance just being oversensitive, but I could also see you accidentally slipping up and committing a "microaggression".

I would agree with other people in this thread that whether this is offensive mostly comes down to context.
Possibly. We were actually talking about affirmative action, which is already a dicey topic. I've been applying to PhD programs in philosophy. In the conversation, I referred to a "girl" who is getting all these acceptances from PhD programs while I've just been hearing bad news. I was complaining that although she and I were of equal academic caliber, we were not receiving the same evaluation from admission committees.

It was also over the internet, so I can see how people might read a sneering tone into how I said "girl." Still, I think one ought to hold a principle of charity when it comes to PC-offenders, and my words certainly did not receive a charitable interpretation. :lol
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2016, 05:49:09 PM »
Yeah, given all that context, I don't think you should be surprised your acquaintance was offended.  I also think your acquaintance wasn't so offended by the word you used as they were by how you used it in context (you may not have meant the word "girl" in an infantilizing or demeaning way, but it doesn't help your case if you're complaining the "girl" is getting accepted to PhD programs on the basis of her gender).  You're right, the fact that the conversation happened over the internet probably also didn't help.

Offline Ħ

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2016, 06:02:31 PM »
Right, I knew someone on the forum I posted at would be throw a fit. It's just the way it goes when you talk about touchy issues like affirmative action, and when you hold to politically incorrect positions as I do. Unfortunately, however, I found that most people threw crap at me for my irrelevant moral deficiencies and insensitivity rather than engage in my actual argument on an intellectual level. Downvoted to oblivion too. Always happens. Oh well.
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2016, 06:04:21 PM »
Are you talking about me?  I'm not throwing a fit, nor am I necessarily saying that you did something wrong -- just that I understand if your acquaintance was offended.

Offline Ħ

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2016, 06:07:24 PM »
Oh no! I'm not, not at all! I wasn't addressing you!

I understand why they were upset too. I just think it was positively irrational.

"a person on the forum I posted at" =/= you or anyone on DTF. It's another forum.
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Offline Sir GuitarCozmo

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2016, 10:22:29 AM »
My personal opinion only - this smacks of trying too hard to find something to be offended over.

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2016, 10:30:16 AM »
I think it's all about her age.  When I was 20 and you called me boy, I would have taken offense just because I was a grown man dammit!!  It really wasn't true.  I had a lot to grow up about at that time.  Now if someone was to call me boy today I'd ask them if their prescription for the glasses needed to be updated.
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Offline Calvin6s

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2016, 10:44:13 AM »
,
« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 05:02:06 PM by Calvin6s »
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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2016, 10:56:47 AM »
My personal opinion only - this smacks of trying too hard to find something to be offended over.
I've gotta admit - this is my initial reading as well.

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Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2016, 12:29:53 PM »
Well I know people whom are older adults who still act like boys and girls. Meaning, not being responsible adults.
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Offline lordxizor

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2016, 02:17:33 PM »
I only get annoyed by it when someone is referring to both men and women at the same time and refers to the men with a "grown-up" term, like men, and then referring to the women as girls. Like at my church there's the "men's group" and "girl's night". Both groups are primarily 40+ year old adults.

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2016, 02:42:03 PM »
Bill Romanowski is has a long rap sheet of racism (even calling his own teammates the N word, etc.), so him using the word "boy" was seen through that lens.


I call every female my age or younger 'chick' in casual conversation. I have no idea why and I should probably stop. But I've never been called out on it, so whatever. Intent is what matters.

Offline Calvin6s

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2016, 03:21:00 PM »
,
« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 05:02:25 PM by Calvin6s »
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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2016, 05:54:53 PM »
I only get annoyed by it when someone is referring to both men and women at the same time and refers to the men with a "grown-up" term, like men, and then referring to the women as girls. Like at my church there's the "men's group" and "girl's night". Both groups are primarily 40+ year old adults.

It's intent that matters.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2016, 07:43:26 AM »
My personal opinion only - this smacks of trying too hard to find something to be offended over.
I've gotta admit - this is my initial reading as well.

Life's too short, people.

I'm with Hef.  I thought about clicking on this thread, and then started thinking of things that were more important in the bigger picture, and got to about 25 or so before I actually did click to come in and say just that. 

I would go so far as to say if you got offended by "girl", you were ALREADY offended and just looking to justify it.   

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Re: Do you find the word "girl" offensive?
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2016, 01:18:54 PM »
Hey girl, if you REALLY want to be offended, I could start calling you a "broad".  But that'd be sexist.

Chicks hate that shit.