Lately I’ve become aware of the fact that the word “woman” is not a popular word in our culture. More often than not, we females are referred to as “girls”. This word is tossed about as though it is some sort of peppy little compliment and the W word (woman) is somehow stodgy and not so good as in bad.
Granted, our culture also refers to men as “boys” in the same sort of careless, affectionate way which I don’t find objectionable any more than someone calling a guy named Robert “Bob”. The clearly intended context of affection and casual familiarity is not what bugs me.
What bugs me is the way the word “woman” and “women” is often not used or there are other words with mild to severe derision and disrespect implied to the female gender in them. There are tons of them: “broad-frail-tomato-ho-mistress-bitch,slave, drudge.. the list goes on.And if that is how we are regarded, who would ever want to be a “woman” anyway?
Even the word “Female” is used in a clinical, almost unfriendly way at times instead of the plain old W word. Besides “grrrl” we have the homey “gal” or Lady. My BJJ teacher actually refers to us all as “Ladies.” I feel like whipping out my lace trimmed parasol, bustle and bonnet every time I hear her say it, though I am grateful for her use of it as a term of respect.
I don’t dislike the word “girl”, but I find it very disturbing how we (I’m included) are patterned by language to associate feminine innocence, vitality, worth and beauty to that which is a term for the immature state of a female child, rather than either the w word or terms of respect which are yet to be coined.
“Feminist” or “Feminista” remains a suspicious and not liked word even more than “woman”. I don’t use the word “feminist” because I associate it with card carrying activists who do things like getting beaten and put in jail. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get beaten and sent to jail, thank you very much, and I don’t want to be associated with those who do. Actually being a woman in a society so rooted in patriarchy, is, by the very implied non discussion of it, not desirable or associated with having power.
Further, though I admire many feminist writers, I hate the way feminist factions have warred with each other, and are widely associated with hating and denigrating men. There are a great many people out there who hate feminists for daring to care about women and fight for their rights. I need to remember that the women who have been willing to fight for women’s rights are the reason why my world is as free as it is, in many significant and important ways.