So, I clicked on this really intriguing infographic on Facebook, about how the words people use in their online dating profiles impact how many people contact them. While the article attached to this infographic was slightly horrible, the difference between the use of the terms “woman” and “girl” intrigued me.
Apparently, men who use the term “woman” get 28% more contacts than men who use the term “girl.”
And women who refer to themselves as a “girl” get 16% more contacts than those who claim to be a “woman.”
Let's face it: unless you are an actual girl, the term is diminutive. It implies a lack of maturity and agency over one's own life. Same thing goes for the term “boy.” And quite honestly, when a woman refers to her partner as a boy, it's an insult, even if she's chuckling and rolling her eyes. I think this is why women instinctively shy away from profiles that cast women as “girls.” There's an implied lack of status, lack of respect. As for men preferring “girls”–no comment.
I'm not completely hung up on this. If a group of women want to be all giggly and refer to each other as “girls,” or a man wants to go hang out “with the boys,” that's fine by me, because the implications are that they're taking time to be carefree and perhaps a bit childish. Fair enough. And if older people who have known me since I WAS a girl still want to refer to me as a girl I won't be offended. Heck, I still think of my cousins as kids, even though most of them are in their twenties and well into adult life. Not because I don't respect them or view them as real adults, but because I remember the children they were, and my mama bear instinct toward them has never faded.
But if a male peer refered to me as a girl? There's a better than 28% chance that I would NOT be amused.
So what do you think? How do the words we use to refer to ourselves and others impact the way people see us and treat us? How do you respond to people who call you things you'd rather not be called?