At the park run on Saturday, I heard cheers of ‘go girl’ directed at a 75 year old completing her 100th run. In the circumstances the language was probably well placed. The ‘girl’ in question went on to achieve a personal best. If I’m still runing 5k at 75 then any shouts of encouragement will do.
It reminded me of the outrage caused by Sir Roger Gale MP when he described mature working women as ‘the girls in my office’. I had much debate with friends as to whether this could ever be taken as flattery and compliment.
As an accountancy student in the early 1980’s there would be exercises set which would, we were told, ‘sort the men from the boys’. A nod of ‘oh sorry girls’ would acknowledge the presence of the female students in the room.
Does the language matter? To my mind it does. It is language representative of a paternalistic culture, keeping the girls in their place.
Last week I spent an evening at the cinema watching an interview with Margaret Atwood. Solid, steely and lovely; she is a prophet for the times in which we live, a wise woman. I can’t imagine anyone describing this strong woman as a girl.
I’m happy to enjoy an occasional ‘girls’ night out’, the equivalent of a ‘night out with the boys’. But on the whole, I aspire to become a wise old woman with the wow factor (definitely not a little old lady, lol). I’d like to be a role model worthy of my granddaughters. At the moment they are both beautiful little girls. My hope is to see them grow into intelligent and hard working women, following in the footsteps of their mother and their aunties.