#HeyGirl

Feminist Ryan Gosling respects your sexual agency.
I've been stuck for two weeks or so between trying to understand what people intend by what they say and knowing that word choice matters. OK, OK, one word, in particular: girl.

I loved my Pilates/yoga teacher's rough translation of "namaste" as "you go, girl!" I had to smile when a toll booth worker passed me through the pay lane with a wave and a cheerful, "you're good, girl." I love the cute pink and pastel LEGO Friends sets. (Although I absolutely hate the stretched out skinny mini-fig replacements.) But despite drinking my coffee out of a pink mug in my pink office as I browse for a pink iPhone and pink MacBook, I still struggle with self-contempt in the moments when I'm emotion and (shudder) "girlie."

There should be nothing wrong with being a girl or being like a girl. It should denote immature femaleness, which should be, at worst, value-neutral as we work toward gender equality. I could put on my Humorless Feminist hat and mention that, in the real world, it is something of a double-edged sword because traditionally it undermines grown women by lumping us together with children—"career girls," anyone?—while its re-appropriation only serves to concede and reinforce that our value declines as we age. ("Really, even if I'm 40, I'm still cute and therefore worth something! Girl Power!")

But I don't want to freak out every time somebody uses the word girl to mean "female person of any age."

Except then there is this:

It's bad enough that porn stars, hookers, and strippers are regularly called "girls," but when a group of feminist women on NPR are talking about the (mostly) consensual sexual experiences of 15-21 year old females, they should not be persistently, insistently using the word "girls." A girl is a female child and a child cannot consent to sex, so if you're talking about a girl and sex, you're talking about child rape. Child rape is about as far from empowered sexual agency as you can get.

So I'll go ahead and assume you don't mean to insult me by calling me a girl even though I'm in my 40s, but pretty please, the moment you start talking about fucking, it's always WOMAN.

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