the g word

This post, or at least thoughts for this post, or on this topic, have been kicking around in my head for years, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to writing them down. Part of it is the time thing yes, and then the topic itself. Do I want to go There? What else can be said, that hasn’t already? And, really, are we STILL having to talk about this in 2015?! Twenty-fricken-fifteen people. Seriously.

Which I suppose it part of what nudged me. As well as seeing this comic and article the other day about Lego’s attempt to appeal to girls. Yes, I played with Lego as a kid, not to the extent WCN does, but I did. (I know it’s hard to believe there was Lego way back then before dirt, but there was. Although my recollection of it was as a more generic building set toy. Nowadays it seems very geared towards kits, where the box holds parts to build a particular thing. Not, of course, that you can’t build other things, but it is a different focus. But I digress.)

Anyway, so yes, the “pink it and shrink it” (and charge 2x or more as much) for “women’s” is one of my pet peeves. And not just because the usual pastel pink they choose is one of the most unfortunate colors. (Although I’m not sure which is chicken and which is egg – would I dislike pastel pink as much if it weren’t the one I’m “supposed” to like and has been stereotyped as the girly girl color?)

But I digress. Again. Can you see why I’ve had difficulties with this post? There’s so many avenues for digression. Or am I just avoiding the point? Which is:


THAT g word

Mr. Webster, please… (OK, not THE dictionary, but Webster’s II New College, 1999, a little better than the pocket dictionary left from the previous home owner)
girl 1. A female child, where then child is 1. A person between birth and puberty

So why do I hear women being referred to as girls? Women who are CEOs or other high level executives in companies. Women who have families of their own. People who yes, are female, and are after birth, but are also after puberty. People who, if they were male, would not be referred to as boys.

OK, there is some grey area, like anything, there are some people who age wise aren’t technically but for other reasons seem like “girls”. And, as I get older, I suppose the age range kinda creeps up (really? you’re old enough to be in college????), and there isn’t really an equivalent to “guys” which can cover that stage between young boys and men. Gals? Do people in California really say that?

Which, yes, there’s that component, of not wanting to age or not supposed to age. Not grow up into a real, actual person.

I’m sure there are other reasons as well. What might they be?

Then I hear some of you saying, “but women use that word, to other women.” Sure, but it’s usually in a positive, encouraging sense. The one that comes to mind (and I’ve probably even said myself) – “you go girl!” So, much as I hate it, there may be a bit of a double standard depending on the speaker and situation.

I’m the first to admit I don’t have THE SOLUTION, and I don’t want to be the Word Police. I don’t think words are inherently bad, and just telling people to not use a particular word doesn’t help the situation. Just using a different word doesn’t mean you’ve had any change in your thought process or how you relate to the world and interact with people. To paraphrase Robert Hughes from an article about political correctness, you can dress up five men in Armani suits – they’ll all look good, but that doesn’t mean that any of them have any taste.

Urgh, re-reading this and even after taking out a couple other digressions and loosely related things it still seems a bit scattered. One of the reasons I write is to make sense of things, to sort things out, to clarify. Maybe the point of this one is that some topics that isn’t necessarily possible on. That you can be conflicted about something like this, where some times the use of the word girl makes me uncomfortable, but it’s not necessarily black and white.

At the end of the day it’s these grey areas that we inhabit, as the imperfect humans that we are. So maybe the thing is figuring out how to navigate the discomfort, while keeping the humanity.

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7 Responses to the g word

  1. afly onthewall says:

    You go Woman!

    • afly onthewall says:

      I think the narrow definitions society creates exist for G’s and B’s. It was never meant to be pandering but to show support/respect for somebody who is willing to exist outside societies narrow mold. You go MEGAN!

  2. judigoldberg says:

    any word to the extent it belittles and derisively minimizes and separates needs to be challenged, even ‘woman, and women’ some times, especially when it panders to the worst in us, rather than the best

  3. I sometimes believe that the little girl inside of me is more resilient than the woman I have become. very nice to think about my girl side because it reminds me of my innocence, but it also reminds me on how “crazy” my little girl can drive me when not centered in her own turf. Gosh, I can go on about this g word and still get nowhere. As I grew up my best friend from childhood, we call each other Mujer (Woman) when he say Hi to another, “Que tal mujer?” Then I wonder, how come I don’t literary translate it when I speak with my girlfriends…?! Oh my! I better get back to whatever I was doing… Thanks for the post, Susan (girl at heart ;-))

  4. Grant says:

    First, I like reading your blog. I like how you bring your humor and insightful outlook onto issues that are in your life. But I think you can do better with this post. To use a bad metaphor, part of an artist’s job is to take a greased 50kg ball and through the lens of their life, put handles or holes into the ball to allow other people to hold it and carry it about.

    In the blog entry you tackled two hairy issues, society’s outlook on women and, obliquely, the difficult task an artist faces. These are two important issues, But ultimately you punt on putting your handles or holes in these issues. Saying it’s too difficult or this grey area is where everyone lives.

    It’s this punting that I have the issue. I enjoy picking up problems by the handles and holes that you put into them. I enjoy playing with the ideas and issues in this new way you present. By not putting these touches in place, I’m left with the greasy 50kg ball desperately juggling it looking for somewhere to grab on. A little unfulfilling, and eventually I put the ball down.

    Otherwise, thanks for your insights.

    • nutMeg says:

      Thanks for reading, Grant, and for the thoughtful, and thought-provoking comment. That’s not a bad metaphor (as long as one doesn’t get too sidetracked by the greasy balls) quite the image, and I like the idea of putting handles on things.

      I’d agree it was one of my less satisfying posts. Like I said, the topic has been on ye olde list o’ things to write about for a long time though, and I felt like I’d passed it by too many times – too difficult, don’t want to go there, blah blah blah. At some point gotta give it a go. I thought maybe the writing would bring something out, often it does. But this time not so much. Maybe I should have hung on to it, but that’s another area I’m working on – the editing and, on the flip side, not fussing over things so much. Just say no to perfectionism.

      So maybe it was a punt, but sometimes that’s how it goes. Can’t hit them all over the fence (to mix metaphors.) It is a start though. Those are important. And sometimes it’s the asking of the question(s) that’s the important thing. That incompletion prompted you to take the time to write a comment!

      Anyway, yes, it’s not finished. One of those topics that probably never will be, but I’m glad to have put myself out there on a difficult one.

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