I Am a Woman

by Michelle Curtis on 03/24/2011 · 9 comments

in Feminism, Life, Personal, Work

Women
Last year there were fliers on campus for a campaign that said “Don’t be that guy. . .” and “Don’t be that girl. . .” Apparently, some students on campus were upset with the use of “girl,” since this is a university and we are mostly over 18 and thus women. I will admit, I failed to understand what the uproar was about. I, and everyone around me, uses the term “girl” when referring to women in their twenties and in their fifties. What is the big deal?

But over the past year, as this lingered in my mind, I have become consciously aware of “girl” being used to describe women in the media and by my peers. I even used the term when referring to myself, “I am a girl.” I thought of myself as a girl (just an older girl).

One day while I was watching my mindless television, I realized how degrading it is to call a woman, someone over 18, a girl. Men are never referred to as boys, they at least get guys or dudes. But, women, we get girl. And what does girl signify: little, non-important, a kid, immature, does not matter, etc.  

When using the term girl to refer to a woman or women, in a way we are saying that those adults are children. They are just girls who are babies and have yet to fully develop and understand this world. Ever since this realization, I have begun to call myself and think of myself as a woman.

I am a woman.I am not a girl and those I hang around are not girls, we are women. Since I have been calling myself a woman, I have begun to notice my confidence has skyrocketed. I have an opinion and YES, it does matter and YES I understand the world and YES it does need to change and because I am a WOMAN I can change the world.

For the past semester, when I am talking to a group of women, they are not girls or dudes or guys, they are women and I will refer to them as such.

About the Author: Michelle Curtis is a 22 year old from California who is currently working on her B.A. in Women’s Studies. Michelle enjoys scrutinizing media for it’s portrayal of women.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

feministified March 25, 2011 at 6:17 am

Rock on, Michelle. This is a great piece!!

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Chantilly Patiño March 26, 2011 at 1:37 am

Great point about this term and how it can be used to degrade and trivialize women. When I think about it, I also consider the term often used to demoralize Black men. “Boy” was used frequently throughout slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Spouted by White racists, it made the point “You are not my equal…and don’t ever get to thinking that you are.” The term “girl” in referring to a woman has likely come about in the same way…although I don’t know the whole history behind that one…and is often used by men who refuse to validate our opinions or objections. If my friend call me “girl” I don’t object and actually like it at times, but you can pretty much tell when someone is using it to degrade you and that puts me on defense and ready to whoop some you-know-what!

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Latina Fatale March 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Great parallel Chantilly. In any type of power relations I think that one group might infantilize another group. Sometimes when I am reading old literature about native americans, I notice that they make them appear very “childlike”

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Chantilly Patiño March 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Right, it’s a great way for aggressors to discredit them and despite the fact the others might think those days are gone…they’re still happening. Thanks for the reply!

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Latina Fatale March 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

The other day a man who is one of my subordinates called me “Mi’ja”. It was interesting because over the week I had noticed that in a workshop he was calling teachers “mi’ja” and I meant to tell him about it. I was pretty perturbed when he called me mi’ja, cuz I’m not his daughter and I’m not a little girl. I’m his damn boss. I pretty much set him straight, and he was super surprised that it was offensive. I believe that he was legitimate and so it’s surprising how some of these terms are really ingrained and people don’t even realize what they are saying sometimes.

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Chantilly Patiño March 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Great point!!! That’s one that definitely can be offensive. Glad you told him how you feel! Especially, you’re his boss!??? How disrespectful! Hopefully, he’ll at least think about it the next time he decides to address a woman that way.

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Wendy February 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Technically, I’m still just a girl. But dang it if I don’t have my own opinions too. I just found your blog, and am methodically going through all your posts. You make a ton of really good points!

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Latina Fatale March 21, 2012 at 1:47 am

That’s so great to hear Wendy-)

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