Mayim Bialik Says We Need To Stop Calling Women Girls!
Mayim Bialik is sick of women being referred to as ‘girls.’ The Big Bang Theory actress posted a video to her Facebook page this week which urges everyone to stop and think twice when using words to describe women.
“When we use words to describe adult women that are typically used to describe children, it changes the way we view women — even unconsciously, so that we don’t equate them with adult men,” she says. “In fact, it implies that they’re inferior to men.”
She says that we subconsciously demean a woman by referring to her as a girl. When we use words such as small, cute, little or girly then we start treating them like that as well.
The video has been viewed over 2.5 million times and starts with a story about Bialik (who incidentally is a neuroscientist and has a PhD from UCLA) overhearing a conversation in a bar between two men. They point to a woman nearby and refer to her as a “girl.”
“I start looking around, wondering why they would let a child into the bar,” Bialik says in the video. “Then I realised that when he said ‘girl’, he meant ‘woman’. But, because she’s in that super narrow age range between five years old and 55 years old, we just don’t know what to call her. So we call her a ‘girl’.”
I get super annoyed when people call women "girls." You don't call a grown man a "boy," do you? Yes, I overthink everything. Here are my thoughts on why and how to change how we talk about women.
Posted by Mayim Bialik on Thursday, 23 March 2017
Bialik says language is of the utmost importance if we claim to value gender equality.
“When we use words to describe adult women that are typically used to describe children, it changes the way we view women, even unconsciously, so that we don’t equate them with adult men,” she says.
The actress points out that while she understands people’s intent isn’t bad when referring to a woman as a girl it doesn’t change the power of the word and the effect it has. Bialik is right when she says we would never refer to a man as a boy as it comes across as “demeaning and emasculating”.
But for some reason- we think it’s okay to use terms like chicks or girls. In fact we don’t really think twice about it. I must admit I myself are guilty of calling my friends ‘girls’ on occasion. Or chicks even. Do I mean to demean them? Absolutely not. Yet why don’t I refer to their husband’s as boys then?
I think it’s because we somehow take it as a compliment when we are thought of as younger than we actually are. Women love it when someone guesses their age and they’re about 5 years off. So I’m guessing when we are called girls we’re subconsciously taking that to mean we’re still young. I don’t know. It’s just a thought.
Whereas men don’t want to appear younger or be regarded as boys because that would somehow strip them of their masculinity. Being a boy means they’re not men- and in turn don’t possess everything usually associated with manliness- strength, power and independence.
I found it interesting that in the video Bialik mentioned someone referred to her assistant as a ‘great girl.’ Ordinarily I would think nothing of this comment until I had to flip it and imagine someone saying it about a male assistant. ‘He’s a great boy’ just sounds so wrong and in fact quite laughable.
Bialik’s words really got me thinking about how we just accept the status quo sometimes and don’t bother questioning things that appear to be harmless. Haven’t we as women fought so hard for gender equality? To gain our right to vote and to have equal pay in the workforce (which is yet to happen)? Yet here we are destroying our own hard work without even realising. I for one will definitely start thinking about my language. Because she’s right, they’re not just words. They have intent and power behind them and words are what sets the environment for generations to come.
I just have one question. Who’s going to tell Beyonce that it’s “Women who run the World” not girls?!!