Recently whilst we were chatting, Lamo referred to Harlin as a ‘Girl’ in an automatic response with no thought to having used this term. For some reason the thought struck him were he then asked the question, when should you use the term ‘Girl’ or ‘Woman’ when addressing the fairer sex? As he wondered if Girl could be seen as not rude as such but perhaps a little demeaning to an adult Woman. When he asked Harlin about this, she thought for a bit and responded with this definition of when a Girl becomes a Woman;
“When she knows how to handle her self.”
Which to be fair is probably a great transition point as it shows that she has matured. Lamo said that this makes it very difficult for a man then as if he uses girl then he is risking himself saying he does not think the woman capable of handling herself. (A comment that may lead to him learning very quickly that she can of course handle herself!).
Harlin added, well we could ask the same question: “How do you know whether a guy should be addressed as a Boy or a Man?” This of course is a good counterpoint.
Talking it through we started to think that the male side does not have that same level of impact. For it is rare to call a grown man ‘Boy‘ or at least this seems to be the case. When addressing a guy, “Hey Man” tends to be the common phrase; whereas “Hey Boy” is more reserved for two other things. First a younger male not yet adult and also Dogs! (Seriously think about how people call their dogs in the park!). “Hey Boy” or “Come here boy” although to be fair goes for female Dogs to actually, as they are often referred to as girl of course which almost cancels that argument out.
If people are talking about a woman they would use either in conversation, “Oh that girl is….” or “That woman she is..” Opposing this, when you talk about an adult male you nearly would always say, “Oh that man…” not “Oh that boy..“, there is a clearer distinction for some reason on the guy’s side.
We then wondered if, without being sexist, it just comes down to the older generational ways were women were more objectified back then? So men would talk much more about them than the other way round. Thus there are more words for referencing a woman than a man? It sounds really bad but a few generations ago women were maybe more prim and proper and would not talk in the more formal ways we all do now, so woman had less of those word references for men. As time has progressed the way both genders referenced each other it may have created this difference between why “man & boy” are easier to define against “girl and woman” in conversations?
Lets get back to the topic of the female side, by definition in the education books will tell you Girl is a younger female whereas Woman is an adult version, although these days what age is classed as this manifestation point? Sixteen, Eighteen or is it that US version of Twenty One when you are considered mature enough that you can sip on alcohol so you must be an adult and now a woman not a girl?
Harlin raised the point whether this transition based around puberty time, when one undergoes those drastic physical changes like gaining curves and muscles, (And the other things this period brings of course.), depending on the gender. Is it at this point a girl becomes a young woman or even a woman? (Or of course a boy a young man or man.)
Then we have to ask, what makes someone female a young woman? Is it after they go through that fun time of puberty, are they then a “Young Woman” who has yet to, as Harlin says, “learn to handle herself” and become a full woman? What makes this even more confusing, (If your not you are doing well!), is there are people who use the term, young woman to refer to a girl, (That’s the dictionary defined one where she is not yet old enough to be an adult) nor has she reached puberty, but because she shows a very mature attitude for her age. (See how men get so very confused?) She is then addressed as such as a sign of respect for her attitude.
We wonder that although the use of woman for an adult of the fairer sex is probably the politically correct term that girl is used between people who know each other well as a sign of affection. It shows a level of comfort between them where political correctness is not creating barriers. (Like the world is not seeing Political Correctness going mad in recent years!). Yet even so you still hear people using phrases like, “You go girl” when referring to someone they don’t actually know as yet another contradictory example.
With all this in mind then are girl and woman more interchangeable than the dictionary would have it defined or is there a threshold where the first does naturally become the second?
If so is this an age point where this happens or as Harlin’s definition she has matured to handle herself, which of course could be any age. With, “young woman”, perhaps being a period of transition time between where they come to terms with having grown from a girl on their way to becoming a woman yet there is still more to learn.
Or could these be these are simply phrases that are applied by society when the individual has proved worthy of them as rewards for the different levels of maturity?
Obviously between friends, well then nothing really matters, so you refer to each other however you like!
(c) 2017 Harlin & Lamo The Lion