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October 02, 2007


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Hi, Everybody or Hi, Name and Name and Name -- they both work fine for me.

Maybe it's because I'm not going to apologize for my stridency (I graduated from college in '92) but damn, "Girls" is NOT ACCEPTABLE. My six-year olds are girls. My college-age cousins? ARE NOT.

I don't know, "girls" has never bothered me. Mostly because I don't feel old enough to be a ma'am or a lady. Of course, my grandma has always referred to the "girls" in her AARP group or retirement home so it's always been a generic female word to me.

"Hey guys" works as well -- doesn't bother me to be called a guy, either.

For data points, graduated from college in the mid-90s with an engineering degree.

"Girls" doesn't bother me a bit, especially if it's coming from another woman... it feels clubbish, cute and fun, not insulting. I myself refer to the female college students that populate my neighborhood as "girls," because at my advanced age of 33, women aged 21 or younger do seem like girls to me. And if someone calls me a girl, I can flatter myself and imagine that I still look young enough to be an undergrad.

I envy true Southerners the ease of being able to refer to everyone as "y'all." That, and the constant availability of sweet tea. I'd drink more tea instead of soda if people around here understood that sugar just can't dissolve well in cold liquid.

I'm with Summer--"Girls" doesn't bother me unless it's coming from an adult male who is in authority over me. Grandpa-type people are excluded from this general rule. I figure if you're retired, I must still seem young enough to be classified in that way.

I think that when I was younger I called women of my peer group "girls" simply because I didn't feel like a woman myself.

I guess the only time I would care, much, is if the person addressing me was in authority over me, such as a manager or supervisor. Then it's important that there be a higher level of formality and respect than I would typically expect from anyone else. But, even then, if I felt respected in general, I wouldn't be TOO upset by something like being one of the "girls".

For the record, I graduated from college in 1998. Daugher of an ardent feminist and growing up in a post-1970 world, I tend to carry my feminisim lightly.

"Girls" is not something I used past early college, if then. I guess I'd say Hi Everybody - but now I'd say Hi Ladies.

"Ladies" is an older term though - you have to get used to being a Lady :-). Probably not until after college age at least.

I don't think the girls now care as much as we did. (mid 80s, history degree, law degree - and don't dare call us "girls" at law school!)

I agree that it's the context in which the word "girls" is used that becomes a problem for me. I can often tell when an authority figure -- usually male, but NOT always -- is using "girls" in a derogatory manner. That definitely irritates me; I don't think it was just people in your generation who fought against the patriarchal male hegemony! ;)

ON the other hand, I will say that having different standards for men or women adds to issues about sexism in and out of the workplace. So, on a personal level I probably wouldn't mind if a woman said, "Hi girls!" to me and a bunch of friends. On a global level, I do object to it because others whose motives are not so pure may hear it and assume it's being used in the derogatory sense. Generally, I wouldn't use "girls" to refer to other women, and I don't appreciate being referred to as a girl myself.

This also brings up an internal struggle I have: I don't like it when people refer to me as "ma'am," but "miss" carries the same possibly-derogatory connotation as "girls." What to do, what to do...

I went to a women's college, one of the Seven Sisters, and I think that "Hi everyone!" or "Hi all!" is appropriate.

I really hate being called a 'lady', although I'm not sure why. Somehow it sounds patronising. Likewise "Ma'am", although no-one really uses that in the UK. (I'm always amused when I hear a female BBC journalist interviewing a male US army representative. Inevitably he will call her "Ma'am" which always sounds far more deferential than the usual cut and thrust of the Today program (BBC Radio 4's morning news and current affairs program, known and loved for its robust interviewing style.)) I'm less touchy about 'girls', collectively, although I don't think I'd use it of a group of women which included people older than myself. 'Guys' as a collective term I do use, for groups of either sex or both sexes.

Hi guys would probably be my choice. I didn't think that girls bothered me when I started writing this comment, but now I guess it does. It does connote a kind of flighty triviality to me, and I suppose that in an academic atmosphere where everyone's intellect is presumably to the fore it could be construed as particularly insulting.

However, all that said, I think actions (and attitudes) speak louder than words, and I would take that into account before getting riled up about it. I have an older male friend who is wont to say "let's ask the girls what they think" when talking about adult women on an equal footing with him, and I don't mind because otherwise he is respectful and treats everybody like human beings.

Oh, I don't get mad about it. It just feels strange to me -- like they're saying, "Hi, undergrads." They're calling me something I used to be but am no longer.

I would use girls for a group of women friends my own age, and ladies for the same group or a group of different ages. I only call someone a woman if I am implying that she isn't very nice, otherwise she is a lady. As in, 'I can't believe that woman just cut in line!' or 'That lady has blue hair!", it doesn't really have anything to do with age. As a southerner, though, I am free to use y'all for groups. I can't really imagine saying "Hey y'all!", it would probably just be, "Hey!".
-I'm glad someone else understands about sugar in sweet tea. Once it's cold, the deal is done.

I'm 27, and it seems to me that people my age refer to other women our age as "girls" quite a bit.

It didn't bother me much when I was in college (I graduated in 2002), but now I'm stating to think, look - I have a husband, a child and mortgage. I am not a "girl."

I've seen newspaper articles that say "a 23-year-old girl..." A 23-year-old is not a girl! I think because people my age tend to prolong their adolesence, live at home longer, delay marriage and childbearing, etc., it reinforces the use of terms like "girl."

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