I’ll keep this post short and sweet, because I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Female adult humans are called women.
Do not call us “girls.” Do not infantilize us. Do not make the mistake of believing someone is “overreacting” if they take issue with being called a child.
Especially do not call us “girls” if you choose to use the word “men” in the same sentence. Do not juxtapose those two things if you do not mean them literally. Talking about female adults? “Women” is the word you are looking for.
Sometimes I like to be snarky in my enforcement of this language rule, so I trawl sex forums looking for threads with titles like, “Do girls like giving blowjobs?” and “How do girls feel about pubic hair?” and I reply (momentarily setting aside the fact that those posts try to generalize all women), “I certainly hope you’re not having sex with girls.” Or, sometimes, “I don’t know about girls, but I know some women who like giving blowjobs.”
As with any challenge to the status quo of misogynist language, there is always pushback. People scream, “You know what I meant!” And yes, I do know what was meant. I also know what was achieved: infantilization of women and the continuation of a verbal system that supports it.
Check your language. Make sure it’s not laced with oppression and archaic assumptions, ‘cause that shit’s gross.
And for those of you who pointed out that the word “girl” is in my blog name… Yep, you got me! It’s being used in a different context there, and there is a difference between “girly” and “girlish,” but yeah, this shitty language convention is extremely widespread, sometimes to the point that even feminists might not notice it!