Scott Hardie | March 31, 2004
Seeing this headline got me wondering about an old linguistic pet peeve of mine (ah, that font of so many discussions I've started): When will society finally agree on the age at which a girl becomes a woman, so we can stop awkwardly using the word "female" as a noun? The same goes for the word "male," which, when prefaced by the words "18-to-34 year old," is used far too often as a noun as well.

Steve West | March 31, 2004
Whenever I see the adjectives male and female being used as a noun, I compulsively ask the question, "An Illinois female what?" Porcupine? Manatee? C'mon, lemme in on the secret.

Anna Gregoline | March 31, 2004
What I have a problem with is the usage of "girl" far too much. So often I read a news story and they call someone a "girl," and later on in the story you find out she's like 25! What the heck! Have some respect. This seems to happen far less often with males.

Anna Gregoline | March 31, 2004
Also, in the story, they could have easily called her an Illinois teenager and been done with it.

Melissa Erin | March 31, 2004
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Steve Dunn | March 31, 2004
I'm with Melissa on the age thing. I think 18-19 is the right transition point. I started calling all college-age (and older) women "women" when I was in college and it was drummed into my brain that this was the enlightened, modern, feminist thing to do.

But then, my brother sent me an email today informing me he is dating a "girl" who is 37.

And my wife talks about getting together with "the girls" and my male friends and I sometimes refer to each other as "my boys."

My point is that a lot of that hyper-correct college talking stuff wears off after a while, but the habits remain. I wouldn't use the term "girl" in a derogatory sense (like some men in my profession do, for example by referring to "girl lawyers"). I guess it's all about context.

Anna Gregoline | March 31, 2004
I don't think it needs to be a politically correct kind of issue - I know lots of adults refer to each other as girls and boys, me included. It's just frustrating when you're reading a solid news source and they are referring to grown women as "girls!" Makes them sound stupid and grade school.

Melissa Erin | March 31, 2004
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Scott Hardie | March 31, 2004
You're only as old as you feel. I know a couple of 25-year-olds who still consider themselves girls, not women.

Myself, I refer to anyone who has graduated high school (or equivalent) as an adult... and I try to see them that way too, not just alter my terminology. Other people may employ their own standards; it's this ambiguous crap like "female," trying to dodge the conflict, that gets on my nerves.

Anna Gregoline | March 31, 2004
Female/Male is weird. It DOES bring to mind animal imagery.

Kris Weberg | April 1, 2004
More to the point, wouldn't it be nice if -- never happen -- no one much cared about the gender of the person in the news article?

Melissa Erin | April 1, 2004
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Scott Hardie | April 1, 2004
You're right, Kris, we should not care whether it is a girl or a boy than won the competition. The gender was newsworthy in this particular item because this is a competition for boys that has always been by boys, and finally a girl has demonstrated that it is possible for either gender to win. The next time a girl wins it, I don't expect any headlines on the matter.


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