Something has been brought to my attention recently, and I’m not really sure how to approach the subject.
With my studies of English Language, we cover a lot of ‘gender issues’ portrayed in the media. So, I’m already quite familiar with some of the problems that still exist today when it comes to inequality, as I’m sure most people are.
That word – ‘equality’ – is sometimes pushed aside. It is something I am profoundly interested in: equal rights for everyone should be the absolute core aspect of our humanity.
Yet still, it is not.
According to The Office of National Statistics, ‘average pay for full-time female employees was 9.4% lower than for full-time male employees’ in 2016.
Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams made more that £3.25m each with their song ‘Blurred Lines’, which contains lyrics like ‘you the hottest bitch in this place’.
According to researchers from the UK Medical Research Council, postnatal depression affects one in five men, but no one talks about it.
However, it’s not these issues I want to talk about today.
The issue I would like to raise is something that I am guilty of.
After watching this video by Mayim Bialik, I learnt that the word ‘girl’ is used too often in replace of the word ‘woman’. She states that a woman is ‘usually someone with a high school diploma, a job, a car she pays insurance on, a mortgage, a home she calls her own or a 401k’.
A ‘girl’, according to the Oxford Dictionary is ‘a female child‘, meaning under the age of 18.
So, what’s the problem?
Well, whenever we use the word ‘girl’ to refer to a ‘woman’, it can have a negative impact on our subconscious.
The Saphir-Whorf hypothesis proposes that the language we use frames our world, and influences the way we view reality.
I realised that I used the word ‘girl’ more often than the word ‘boy’, and never thought anything of it. I know I’ve called a waitress a ‘girl’, despite the fact that she served me alcohol behind the bar, yet have never called a waiter a ‘boy’. Therefore, when I described that woman with a word used primarily for a child, I was setting up the idea that she was inferior to her male colleagues.
It’s not just our day-to-day speech, either. The word ‘girl’ is used in many songs, and not just by men. ‘Girl on Fire’ by Alicia Keys, ‘Girl at Home’ by Taylor Swift, ‘Sad Girl’ by Lana Del Rey and ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ by Rihanna are just a few female artists who freely use this word in reference to women.
I believe the video made by Mayim Bialik is important. It changed my views and I hope it changes a few others’. Of course, people don’t have to agree – and that’s completely fine – but raising awareness of these sorts of things may, eventually, lead to a more equal life for all of us.
What are your thoughts?
*I do not wish to offend and I respect the views of others.