Don’t Call Me ‘Girl’

“In a culture where women are underpaid, are striving to make inroads, we should pay attention to how we address one other.” – Bonnie Greer, playwright and author

I am not content with being called a girl. Especially at work. As a grown woman, I expect to be treated as such. 

Update: This isn’t my finest moment, and I’m not particularly proud of myself here. I feel bad about this post because I made assumptions about this person that were unfair during a moment of imbalance. Since writing this post, I’ve had the chance to get to know this person, and she’s really quite lovely. However, I decided to keep this post up as a reminder of what my shadow side looks like and what happens when I’m living out of a place of fear. And the core of this post is still true.

I was addressed as a ‘girl’ at work by another woman through email, and it struck serious nerve. It’s happened on a couple different incidents and honestly, I wasn’t sure why this bothered me. Initially, I also felt ashamed and embarrassed that it bothered me as much as it did. This post began as my attempt to untangle and work out my thoughts and feelings so that I can understand them. After journaling it out, I came to realize that I have no reason to feel bad about being offended by this. I should be unapologetically and rightfully pissed.

Well, here are my thoughts… enjoy:

Regardless of gender, stop referring to women at the office as “girls.” It’s weird and super irritating. When another woman at work refers to you or other women on the team as “girls,” it’s disrespectful, demeaning, and patronizing as fuck. It implies that I’m not a grown woman that deserves to be taken seriously as a professional, but that I’m a child lacking competency and undeserving of authority or responsibility. I get it, you’re just trying to assert your authority. You need to be taken seriously in the workplace too. Disrespecting, discrediting, and dis-empowering others is certainly not the way to do it.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t take offense to every email greeting that comes my way, and I don’t believe I’m interpreting this the wrong way. This is all being taken within context of the summation of every other interaction with certain individuals. Most of these exchanges are rife with power struggles and chafing conversations, with her inserting her dominance in some way, makes me lean toward the idea that she’s not using this with endearment. It’s a less obvious form of her saying ‘I assume I’m the alpha because I assume I’m older / more experienced / knowledgeable / etc.” I know, playground bullshit again.

Here’s a quick guide to when it’s appropriate (or not) to refer to a woman as ‘girl’:
  • If I am not your friend, and you do not mean it in a “hey girl, hey” or “gurl…” sorta way, do not call me ‘girl’
  • Limit your usage of ‘girls’ to refer to those who are pre-teen or younger
  • If you’re a man – just steer clear of calling women you work with ‘girls’ in general


What are your feelings about this?

Drop your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Article Name
Don't Call Me 'Girl'
Add "girl" to your list of what not to say to women coworkers.
Publisher Name
Meeting My Soul
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