Vlog #20: “Girl” vs. “Woman”: Why Language Matters

Mayim talks about something that no one wants to talk about: "girl" vs. "woman"
By Grok Nation StaffPublished on 03/23/2017 at 1:09 PM EDT

“It’s girls’ night!”
“I’m just hanging with my girls!”
“hey, that girl is cute…”
“ask that girl for directions…”

Here’s the question – is that female person actually a girl, meaning a juvenile, who doesn’t have many grownup responsibilities and isn’t living independently, or is she a woman, who lives on her own, probably has a job, can order a drink in a bar, and has responsibilities other than schoolwork?

In this video, Mayim tackles the language of “girl” vs. “woman,” and knows it’s an annoying conversation. But still, she says, it matters what we call people. She points out the double standard involved – if you saw a person in a bar who was male, you’d say “that man” or “that guy,” not “that boy”; but if you saw a person in a bar who was female, for some reason, the default is often “that girl.” It’s diminutive and demeaning, even if the intent was respectful – even good intentions can have a negative impact. (While the video doesn’t address this specifically, some people may prefer a term that’s entirely gender-neutral.)

While this is a male-centered culture right now, the outdated, insensitive terms that we use to refer to each other don’t have to stay this way. It’s up to all of us to change the narrative. We need to start using language that elevates women, Mayim says in the video.

The way we use words matters and can help shape our views, even unconsciously – to create greater equality in this world, we need to work toward equality in the language itself.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to subscribe to Mayim’s YouTube channel!

Grok With Us

  • When you are hanging out with your friends, what terms do you use to refer to members of that group?
  • Are you aware of the inequality in the language that you use about others? Are you sensitive about how people describe you?
  • How can you make your language more equal? Does this issue challenge you in any way, and if so, how?


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