Schedules are updated every Thursday.

Nadia Brickhouse 01 Apr 2015

Can We Stop Calling Women Girls Already?

In case you haven’t noticed, we at Beirut.com have been on a bit of a feminist tear lately. It’s only a matter of time before the revolution begins.

I’ve nearly convinced my female friends to go on strike to protest the fact that women have to pay so much of our hard-earned money for tampons – er, radioactive maxipads. Let’s all just all stop using feminine hygiene products, let it all flow out – til the worldwide patriarchy agrees to give every woman a monthly subsidy for the maxipad, Diva cup, or tampons of her choosing. The movement will be called #Letitflow. Those who find this modest proposal too gruesome to bear might simply suffice by pouring red paint on their pants in a show of solidarity.

But what I’m here to talk about is something else – it’s the ubiquitous practice of referring to grown-ass women as “girls.” I hear this even from my most enlightened media-literate friends. “Girls,” a colleague will say in an email addressing me and several other coworkers who happen to be of the female variety. “Oh, she’s a very sweet girl,” someone will say about an accomplished theater director – who, by the way, is in her forties. The other day I went to my favorite bootleg DVD stand to pick up the most recent season of “Girls.” The guy didn’t have it in stock. He offered some alternatives. “Two Broke Girls,” “Gone, Girl,” “Girl, Interrupted,” “Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place,” and “Mean Girls.” Clearly, Hollywood is doing it’s part to keep women down.

(GIF via Tumblr)

The practice of calling a grown-ass woman a girl, you’ll observe, does not extend towards the males of the species. Have you ever heard someone refer to Nabih Berry as a nice boy? No. Why? To call someone a “boy” when they are in fact a “grown-ass man” or a “girl” when they are a “grown-ass woman” is belittling. It implies that this woman – we do not need to take her seriously, for in fact, she is a child.

The linguistic sexism isn’t just in English. In Arabic you might say “yalla shabeb” – let’s go guys, or “yalla benat” – let’s go girls – but no one ever says, for example, “yalla owlad” (boys) or “yalla niswan” (women.) Perhaps one source of the difficulty is the lack of a solid feminine equivalent to “guys.” We sometimes say “ladies” – but that’s a bit old-fashioned, like calling a group of men “gentlemen” or “sirs.”

So I hereby propose we introduce a new name for women into the lexicon. The female equivalent of guys. I don’t know what that word should be yet. I’m still working on it. Here are some ideas:
GAW (Grown-ass women)
Aretha Franklins

I am not sure about any of these, but I’ll give it some thought over the next few months. Post your own suggestions below. And don’t forget to sign all your tweets #letitflow.