Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Girls and Boys

I've been thinking about language that demeans  others - so this cartoon caught my eye.


One of the things that bugs me is when people refer to adult women as 'girls'. It is usually men who do this and it can seem patronising and belittling. As I wrote this I remembered that I've just renewed my subscription to the '... Old Girls' Association' without batting an eyelid. Well, it is a school for girls and I was a girl when I was a pupil there - but should I start a campaign for a name change for the association? Any WOGA members reading this?


We women can be equally guilty of using belittling terms for men. A recent public example was the UK MP Nadine Dorries who accused the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer as being "posh arrogant boys"It's all about the power games people play of course and women are just as capable of putting down men as men can put down women. Her comment was matronizing, snobbish and belittling. Whatever you think of their politics, as 'Archdruid Eileen' wrote in In Defence of Cameron and Osborne you can't call these 2 grown men 'boys' 
I really do disagree with Nadine Dorries calling David Cameron and George Osborne "arrogant posh boys".They were arrogant posh boys 35 years ago. They're grown-up now. That makes them arrogant posh men.
Nadine Dorries'  intentions - criticising policy - were serious - but using 'posh' as a term of abuse is simply inverted snobbery as Digitalnun pointed out in a perceptive post Class and Conscience which ends with these words
"It would be sad if our present economic mess were to lead to another outbreak of class warfare. Much better, surely, to concentrate on developing a conscience about others and a more generous response to their needs. ‘All in this together?’ Yes, Mr Cameron, but at a much deeper and more demanding level than I suspect you, or most of us, have yet guessed."

Image from Flickr offered under CC Licence

2 comments:

  1. There was a discussion recently about Women being addressed as 'Ladies' which was also considered inappropriate.

    Sometimes we're conditioned to how we have heard people described since childhood, and it can be difficult to break that habit.

    But, I would resent being described as a 'boy' since I've been a man for over 45 years, at the same time, I resent as being described as a Senior Citizen or Pensioner, when factually I am.

    Labels can be unhelpful. In the same way, I dislike hearing Women who are Priest's being described as Women Priest, it's gender divisive. A Priest is a Priest and gender doesn't come into it. It's the same with the Discussion about 'Women Bishops', why not just Bishops, which is a better description. You wouldn't say 'Male Bishops', just Bishops.

    I don't think I will win the war, because the media will go on describing things in that way, and media talk, seems to become the vernacular these days. Shame on us for oral laziness.

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    1. It's interesting the way the use of 'Ladies' has changed. It used to be seen as more polite than 'women' but it sounds rather quaint now. I think it's best reserved for women who happen to be married to a Lord or who are a 'Lady' in their own right. I'm also a Senior Citizen but haven't got used to that yet - I cannot possibly be old enough can I? I'm a Priest (Presbyter not belonging to a different order of priest (presbyter) from one who is a man. Sometimes its relevant to highlight the gender but most of the time it isn't.

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