Why is it often acceptable to refer to a woman as a “girl” but calling a man a “boy” is often unacceptable?


Why is it often acceptable to refer to a woman as a “girl” but calling a man a “boy” is often unacceptable?

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Well I can’t answer how a woman would feel about being called a girl. But as a man if someone referred to me as boy I would personally find it derogatory and see it as them trying to put me down

Like many other cultures, English-speaking cultures tend to associate femininity/masculinity with children/adults and lower/higher places in hierarchies respectively. Referring to someone by childish terms is generally informal, and while informal usage isn’t always insulting (it can be affectionate), it’s usually not what you’d use for a social superior – and until very recently, virtually all social superiors were men. Common casual language often changes slowly, so the current usage is still borrowed from that older world: another example is gender-neutral “you guys”, which is rooted in a long tradition of English and related languages using masculine terms for groups of mixed or indeterminate gender.

At work in a restaurant most servers are female and most chefs are male so we refer to each other as “the girls” or “the boys” and it’s generally accepted.

It’s usually down to context whether it’s acceptable or not.

Probably because it’s important for a woman to feel and look young, and important for a man to look and feel like he can take care of business.

Not as simple as that. There’s plenty of times that men will refer to their friends as boys. You see this all the time with guys saying things like “Just hangin with the boys.” or in racing “Let’s go racing boys” is a phrase that’s often said.

And you see it with women also, calling their friends girls or ladies or whatever.

Thing is this is all subjective and contextual. Using the younger version can be pejorative but most often it’s colloquial and friendly….sort of on the same level as a nickname.

And everyone receiving these will react to the differently. Some will be highly offended if you use the younger version while others will find it a much more friendly tone.

Well men tend to hold there physical prowess in much higher regard then women do. Calling a man boy is a slight to the physical abilities and masculinity. Women tend to intentionally try to appear younger than they are and it’s not a direct slight against them to call them girl unless they are significantly older than you, then it’s a slight against their experience

Depends on the context. Calling your male friend your boy isn’t really unacceptable at all. It’s a term of endearment is most cases. Calling a male adult you don’t know a boy typically means your demeaning them as an adult. Other times, it’s not. When you address the waiter at a french restaurant, you call the garçon, which literally is “boy”

Boy was used during the slave Era to refer to male slaves as a derogatory slang. It was meant to strip masculinity away from them. Some people find certain words hurtful to and it’s best to acknowledge that they don’t like it or get offended and in this case it can mean a guy is immature or less than a man. It might not make sense to some but just like how people prefer certain pronouns and even if you don’t understand it its best to call them what they would want to be referred by.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned before. Referring to an adult male as a “boy” has a very racist history. In the USA at least. I’m not aware of “girl” being used that way.

Living in a diverse big city, I didn’t mind it when people used my race to refer to me all that much. “That white dude”, one of “the white guys”, sure. But it pissed me off when somebody would refer to me as “white boy.” Mother fucker, I’m older than you, I got my shit together, and I’m out here calling treating everyone with respect. Don’t pretend like you’re not meaning anything by it, you can sort that out with your counselor.

I think it’s the pressure of women having a “perfect age.” Like I, a 25 year old adult woman, feel weird about being called a woman or a lady when I’m out shopping. But in the office, I hate being called a “girl.” So it depends on whether I’m in a position of authority or not. But I guess I’m not being called “a female”…I’m not a lizard in a pet store.

For men, I still call my male friends “boys”. Not in a derogatory way, but it feels weird calling 25 year old dudes men. But like a middle aged man…definitely not a boy (and a middle aged woman is not a girl).

I don’t think this issue even particularly exists, as it’s entirely contextual.

Some women will call their partner their ‘boy’ as much as ‘my man’. It largely depends on their relationship. Many men call their mates ‘the boys’, and many women call their mates ‘the girls’ or ‘girlfriends’.

I imagine some women like being referred to as a ‘girl’ as they get older, as it implies that they still have youthfulness, and we live in quite shallow times where everyone wants to look and feel young for as long as possible. on the other hand, some women would find it incredibly patronising.

There are definitely some men who would feel offended at being called a boy, but I imagine that’s largely related to the mentality they have developed through parental influence and socialisation.

Personally I would use what I felt to be the most appropriate term for a given context.

Because infantilizing women is seen as a good thing: women are most “desirable” when they’re young and naive. So when women are told their whole lives that they need to look and act young to be desirable, they internalize that. On top of that, there are many instances where women don’t get work because of their age, in the entertainment industry in particular, but often into their 30’s in other industries because (and this is true) they might want to get pregnant before it’s “too late.” Add on that mean feel less threatened by “girls” and it shows why they choose that designation.

Men, on the other hand, have been told that getting older is great. More power at home and at work? Can do literally whatever they want? Of course they don’t want to be referred to as children!

It’s about value. Men value being seen and regarded as capable, mature, strong, and honorable.

Women value being attractive, nurturing, adaptive, and supportive.

To call a man a boy, you degrade his status because a boy doesn’t yet embody those qualities mentioned above. Whereas to call a woman a girl, you enhance some qualities while diminishing none.

Some men don’t mind being called boy, and some women despise being called girl. Humans are very complex and the way we’re brought up, deeply influences how we view life.

In simplest, US centric terms: because it is more socially acceptable to infantalize women in public settings versus men. But as you can see from other comments, a lot of factors play into this and it is highly dependent on context and the individual people involved in the particular situation

Addressing someone you dont know with a childish term is noted to just be plain disrespectful as its seen as being patronizing with them at best and will put you in some sort of list at worse.

and this is besides the undertones of calling a man ” boy” has in some parts of the world(ie: the US, if you call a Black man that you do not know “boy”, you deserve whatever is coming to you.).

It isn’t often acceptable to refer to a woman as a “girl” if you aren’t a woman, yourself, and even then some women aren’t all that comfortable with it.

As a man, I always interpreted it as we have a middle ground casual terminology of “guys” and “girls,” but for whatever reasons (maybe chauvinism) we didn’t develop a distinctive acceptable term for women. Like “gal” is sometimes used but not that much.

ideally we would say “gals” or use “guys” for both genders and maybe the usage of “girls” would go down

I’m not sure where the premise is, but “me and the boys are going to the game” is a perfectly socially acceptable statement.