06 May 2014

"Girls"?? "Ladies"?? Did the 70's not happen?

Something my partner and I noticed when we moved from California to the East Coast: Women here call themselves "girls" or "ladies." They don't use "women." It's still a difficult linguistic and political difference for us to grasp.

For someone to call a woman a "girl" or a "lady," sounds insulting to my West Coast-tuned ears. But here it seems almost normal. "Almost normal," I say, because I detect the slightest moment of hesitation before they choose which term they'll use. But they seem unaware of the politics of second- or third-wave feminism, only vaguely aware that choosing terminology might have implications.

Raised from college on in California, I would no more say, "Come along, ladies, and we'll hike this trail" than I would say, "Come along, wenches, and we'll struggle up this hill." 

I think this is big. I think it's sad. It's a backwards turn in women's history. I want all women in North America today to honor Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and all the powerful fucking women who tried to make a difference in how we ourselves live, and how we characterize ourselves in the general context of the culture and society. Can't we, by this point, honor and carry on that ideal? Remember it? It was Women's Equality. It was the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT!