“Girls” Is Not a Derogatory Term

“Girls” Is Not a Derogatory Term

I am sick and tired of hearing the words “girls” and “ladies” used as derogatory terms. Sure, we grew up with it, and heard coaches, dads, and pretty much any grown man telling boys, “You throw like a girl!” or “What’s up, ladies?” as a bullying remark. Of course, we also often heard worse—with women’s anatomy being most frequently used to call someone a wimp. Even a woman’s product, the douche (that pretty much should never be used anyway, even for its intended purpose), is used to describe jerks.

You’d think that as times change, society would stop using female terms as the equivalent of “sissy” or “wimp,” or worse. But they’re just as prevalent as they’ve always been. Today I saw two commercials call men “ladies” in a derogatory nature. One was a state farm commercial (which are usually entertaining, so that was disappointing); another was for DirectTV, in which some mini football player (likely someone famous and overpaid, but what do I care?) called a few men in jerseys “ladies” because they weren’t watching a Packers game. I guess the ladies who were watching the Packers game were—what, exactly?

And don’t tell me this is overreacting, that it’s just a joke, that it’s no big deal. Because not only are we women contemptuous over these ads (and many of us are in charge of the bills and what we buy; think about that, advertisers, before you use us as a derogatory term), but the ads also perpetuate a culture of misogyny and disdain for women. What are boys supposed to think of women when they’re called girls or ladies if they do something undesirable?

For one thing, we don’t need to promote bullying, period. It doesn’t provide us with anything but more hate, violence, and depression. For another, this makes both girls and boys feel terrible—and provides boys with the idea that being a girl is the worst thing they could be. It’s a way to further alienate us, and a way to make men devalue women as people. If you haven’t yet seen this TED Talk, “A Call to Men,” which describes how this works, I would greatly encourage you to do so and to share it. Please post it on your Facebook page, e-mail it to friends, whatever you want to do to share it with people. And if you subscribe to either of the services above (or even if you don’t!) please let them know what you think of their harmful ads.

Calling men and boys “girls” and “ladies” isn’t helpful to anyone, and companies who do so don’t deserve our business.