NEWS… BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT
Do you call yourself a woman, or a girl?
It’s a question that you don’t hear men giving any consideration to. I can’t imagine that a table of blokes in a pub have ever sat around asking each other at which point they’ll transition from boy to a man.*
*outside of a barmitzvah.
When men reach physical maturity, they become men. They don’t apologise for it, and they don’t give it much thought. It just happens. They might question what it means to be a man, but they don’t hesitate to use it as a fitting description of themselves at adult males.
But women? We seem to be missing that trick. Instead, long into our late teens and early twenties, we refer to ourselves as girls, the technical term for a female child. Which, as well as being factually inaccurate, is infantilising.
Calling yourself a girl is calling yourself a child. It’s diluting your power and your autonomy. It implies that it is preferable to be young, childlike even, rather than experienced. It’s a rejection of the experiences and growth that brought you to where you are in your life.
I’m just as guilty as any other women on this front. I call my female friends ‘girls’. Sometimes I even call myself a girl. Whatsmore, I think of myself as a girl. When someone else refers to me as a woman, the concept feels foreign, like it belongs to someone else.
Girl is a worn, familiar word. It’s something I wore for a very long time, and something that it’s hard to admit I’ve outgrown.
My mother is a woman. My grandmother is a woman. The female bosses I’ve worked for and admired were women.
In my head, it’s a title that comes with a set of achievements. Women have a skincare routine. Savings. Women have a black dress that they keep dry cleaned in their wardrobe for interview and funerals. Women know how to organise a drinks party or contest a bill in a restaurant.
We all have associations with womanhood. For Ellen Scott, it’s living alone, wearing a signature scent and being able to wear high heels. For Miranda Larbi it’s someone sexy, feminine and powerful.
Those qualities are great. They’re wonderful qualities to have.
But I’m starting to think that having this internal tick list of things that make you a woman is actually doing us a disservice. By attributing those qualities to the idea of being women, we’re not giving ourselves permission to be women until we achieve them.
In reality, these qualities might make you a more mature woman, or a more together woman. But all you need to do in order to be a woman, is be female and adult.
Perhaps this internal list of qualities that make you a woman is what makes us so different from men. Men don’t grade themselves in order to define whether they’ve earned a certain title. They just use it.
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By all means, let’s maintain these ideals – these ambitions for female adulthood. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to own matching glassware or know what to say at a drinks party. But let’s not pretend that we have to achieve those things before we call ourselves women.
There’s no question to ask, no criteria to be met. We are not children so we are not girls. We are women.
It's time for adult women to stop calling ourselves 'girls' – Metro
NEWS… BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT