Women's News from the Web

It was lonely being a female football fanatic. Not any more | Julie Welch

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 19:00

The huge interest in the England Women’s World Cup team shows that, finally, female involvement in our national sport is normalised

On Tuesday night, England played the USA in the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup. BBC viewing figures showed that it was the most-watched TV programme this year, with a peak of 11.7 million people tuning in, far more than Britain’s Got Talent. Another 1.7 million watched online. What I love most about this is the normalisation of the women’s game, the normalisation of women reporting and commentating on it, the normalisation of men watching it. Of course there have been those dark corners of Football Twitter where the dinosaurs and losers huddle together for warmth, making jokes about women getting back into the kitchen. The ones who are still stuck in the 1960s.

Let’s rewind right back to there. When I was in my teens, the manager of West Ham United, Ron Greenwood, was friendly with my parents. He knew I liked football (I kept quiet about my love of Spurs so as not to cause offence), and was a source of tickets for matches at Upton Park. One Saturday the whole family was invited. My father was whisked off to the boardroom, while my mother and I were ushered into the purdah of the ladies’ lounge with the players’ and directors’ wives. They might as well have shut us away in a drawer out of sight.

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Four women allege discrimination in major Disney pay gap case

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 10:25

The claims widen a previous class-action case alleging gender bias and extend to the company’s music label and theme parks

Four women joined a major pay gap case against the Walt Disney Company, accusing the entertainment giant of gender discrimination at its Hollywood Records music label, its world-famous theme parks and other divisions.

The complaint filed in Los Angeles on Friday, alleges that Disney routinely compensates women less than men, denies women promotions, and classifies female employees in lower job titles that don’t match their responsibilities. The claims have widened a class-action suit filed in April, intensifying pressure on the media and entertainment industry in California to confront longstanding pay disparities.

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The Guardian view on women’s football: winning on and off the pitch | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 07:25

Broadcasting women’s football games live on the BBC would help the sport make the most of the moment

When England face Sweden tomorrow in the third-place play-off of the eighth Women’s World Cup, the nation will be justly proud of the players’ achievements. The Lionesses have provided at times breathless and exciting football, scoring more goals in France than at any previous World Cup. Phil Neville, the team’s manager, has an enviable record of just four defeats in 23 matches. England’s semi-final loss to the United States this week was the biggest UK television event of the year, with the BBC’s peak figure of 11.7m taking more than half of the audience share – a fivefold increase on England’s semi-final against Japan four years ago.

Women’s football has come of age in time to make the very most of such a moment. Across western Europe it is growing in popularity. The misogyny of the past, which saw women’s football banned in England, has thankfully gone. Sexism, unfortunately, has not completely disappeared: Patrice Evra, the former French captain who appeared as a pundit during last year’s men’s World Cup, applauded his female English co-panellist Eni Aluko, who writes for the Guardian, as if astonished to hear a woman offer a fluent and pointed analysis. It is a good thing for the beautiful game that such attitudes are the exception rather than the rule.

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I can’t write about a world without rape – because I don’t live in one

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 05:45

Women read and write crime fiction as a way to understand real experience. I was raped – and being told by the Staunch prize that books like mine are preventing justice is outrageous

That rape cases are hard to prosecute is no shocker, but the claim that crime writers are partly to blame shocked me. According to the Staunch prize for books with no violence against women, writers who include sexual violence and rape in their books are contributing to a wider culture in which jurors are “reluctant to convict ‘ordinary’ men” because “they don’t fit the idea of a rapist they’ve internalised through the stories and images they’ve received through popular culture”. In great thriller tradition, the call is coming from inside the house.

As someone who analyses culture for a living and often finds it wanting, I’m in the unaccustomed position of noting that what we’re talking about is, after all, only fiction – where the bad guys, more often than not, meet a satisfactory justice that reality often fails to provide.

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Government obliged to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland, says Labour MP

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 04:32

Stella Creasy backed by 60 cross-party MPs calling for human rights to be upheld

The Labour MP Stella Creasy is leading another attempt to extend access to abortion to Northern Ireland, tabling an amendment arguing that the government is obliged to do this to comply with human rights obligations.

Up to 60 MPs from across different parties were expected to co-sign the amendment, according to the Walthamstow MP, who has tried in the past to change Northern Ireland’s notoriously strict abortion laws.

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Crime writers react with fury to claim their books hinder rape trials

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 00:08

Novelists have condemned the Staunch prize – for thrillers without violence against women – as a ‘gagging order’, after organisers said the genre could bias jurors

Crime novelists have hit out at the claim that fictional depictions of sexual assault influence the outcomes of rape cases, after a prize for books with no violence against women asserted that stereotypical portrayals of attackers could “seriously affect justice”.

The Staunch prize, awarded to a thriller in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered, was launched last year to “offer an alternative narrative to stories based around violence to women”. When it was announced, it was widely criticised by major writers including Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. McDermid said that “as long as men commit appalling acts of misogyny and violence against women, I will write about it so that it does not go unnoticed”, and Hannah told her publishers not to submit her books for the prize.

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The Ovary Office: Running for our Lives

Women's eNews - Thu, 07/04/2019 - 17:40

Dear Women,
Let’s not compete with each other, there is too much at stake. Let’s not feel threatened or jealous by other women’s success or victory or possibility. Let’s not exhibit faux enthusiasm when other women get accolades or credit or awards or honors. Let’s not be stingy or hoard compliments. Let’s not fear that other women are taking up too much space, or taking up too much time. Let’s not ignore or dismiss another woman’s good fortune or their good work. Let’s not curse their beauty, or damn their brilliance. Let’s not take away their shine or their ability to stand out. Let’s not begrudge them their place in the world, or their place at the table. 

It is time for women – for us – to have a place at the Presidential table, the Oval Office… the Ovary Office.

Before Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, eleven other women threw their hats into the ring: Victoria Woodhull, Belva Ann Lockwood, Gracie Allen (yes, that Gracie Allen) Margaret Chase Smith (it was Smith who inspired a young Hillary Rodham to run for President of her class in ’64), Shirley Chisolm, Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink, Linda Jeness, Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Schroeder, Carol Moseley Braun, and Elizabeth Dole. Every one of these women were bombarded with criticism and insults, dragged through the mud, taken to task, and treated as if they had lost their minds. None won the nomination for President but they all certainly put cracks in the glass ceiling and took many jabs for their courage and their bravery, and fought for the rights and dignity of all women throughout their lives.

When Victoria Woodhull – a suffragette – ran for President women didn’t even have the right to vote but that didn’t stop her. What did stop her – what is astonishing – is the lack of support she received from other women. Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, while applauding Woodhull’s extraordinary courage on behalf of all women, dismissed her nomination and Ulysses S. Grant won the election. 

Belva Ann Lockwood was berated and dismissed by local newspapers as being “Old Lady Lockwood,” and dragged through the mud; a woman’s place is in the kitchen but that didn’t prevent her from inspiring other women to stand up and stand tall and raise the bar for other women. 

Margaret Chase Smith was the first member of the Senate to take on the human stain known as Joseph McCarthy in her brilliant piece, “The Declaration of Conscience.” Yet she refused to back down, and encouraged many young women to speak their truth and fight for equality. 
Patsy Mink was responsible for the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act prohibiting gender discrimination, and she authored and introduced the Women’s Education Equality Act

Geraldine Ferraro was consistently ridiculed and constantly tossed sexist comments on the campaign trail – comments mostly asked by female reporters. In 2008, when Ferraro supported Hillary Clinton, she felt emotionally and enormously proud.

Pat Schroeder’s run was short lived; she filled in for Gary Hart after he dropped out of the race after his affair with Donna Rice was exposed. Schroeder was ostracized for being emotional and sentimental, and very often ostracized by other women. Now, in 2019, we have six more women running, tossing their hats into the ring; no doubt mud will be flung – we’ve already seen that – and nastiness and cruelty will be bantered about. Hair styles and fashion will be a hot topic, and passion will be misconstrued for anger. Six women at this very moment have decided to run for President of the United States.

Chances are, like Schroeder, some will be short-lived but their courage will live long. A woman’s place is anywhere she wants to be. So, today I’m applauding and cheering the importance and necessity of trying. It takes courage to try, it takes guts to try, it takes emotional wear and tear to try, it takes grit to try, it takes an amazing amount of bravery to try, it takes standing tall, standing up, putting fear aside and tucking it away to try. 
It takes a huge heaping of fierce and mighty to try.

So, let’s not compete with each other, it does not serve us well; let us serve each other well. Let us root these women on. They are running for our very lives.
Best & warm,

The Ovary Office is a new Women’s eNews series covering the women who are running for the presidency, to counterbalance the patriarchal slant that currently exists in much of the mainstream media. While there are six Democratic women vying to become the party’s presidential nominee, their male counterparts have attained about eighty percent of the media’s coverage, thus drowning out women’s platforms and their viability as presidential candidates. The Ovary Office plans to turn this narrative upon its head.

Amy Ferris is a highly accomplished author, screenwriter, television writer, and editor. She was also honored by Women’s eNews as one of its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for 2018. Amy is also known for championing, encouraging, and inspiring women to awaken to their greatness, as only she can, through passion, truth, hope, and humor—along with a heaping side of activism.

Maternal stress and the male foetus | Letters

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/04/2019 - 06:27
When women are secure and optimistic they produce more boys than usual, writes Sebastian Kraemer

Zoe Williams cites the American sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong, who “examined the evidence for the detrimental effects of stress on a pregnancy. The only demonstrable correlation was between a profound stress event – the death of an existing child, or spouse – during pregnancy, and a negative outcome” (The Handmaid’s Tale comes to life in Alabama, 2 July).

Several scientific studies have shown a significant effect on the offspring of pregnant women living in the area of catastrophic events, such as 9/11 and the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995. The ratio of boys to girls born alive a few months later is always reduced. The male foetus is more vulnerable than his female sister to death from severe maternal stress.

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States are prosecuting women in the name of 'fetal rights'. We should all be alarmed | Moira Donegan

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 20:00

The indictment of Marshae Jones is part of a larger trend of states criminalizing women for unintended pregnancy outcomes

In December, 28-year-old Marshae Jones saw a woman she didn’t like, Ebony Jemison, in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and confronted her. The fight turned physical, and Jemison shot Jones, who was five months pregnant, in the stomach. Jones was rushed to a hospital. She survived, but lost her pregnancy. The fetus had been struck by a bullet.

Yet a grand jury indicted Jones – not Jemison – for manslaughter. Under Alabama law a fetus has the same rights as a living person, and the grand jury ruled that Jones had an obligation to avoid anything that could potentially cause harm to her pregnancy, like making herself available to be shot.

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'A haven': New York sees rise in women traveling across state line for abortions

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 19:00

A growing number of women are travelling for abortions amid tightening restrictions and access to services across the country

When Courtney Buckman made the difficult decision to have an abortion, the obvious solution should have been to go to her nearest abortion clinic in Montana.

In fact the most practical option for Buckman was to have the procedure nearly 2,000 miles away from home – in New York.

Buckman is one of a growing number of women who are travelling to New York for abortions amid tightening restrictions and access to services across the country.

Under the Trump administration, 27 abortion bans have been signed so far this year across 12 US states – including in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi, according to the Guttmacher Institute. As a result, Choices Women’s Medical Centre in Jamaica, Queens, has already seen a significant rise in women coming to the centre for abortions from the affected states.

Related: How gerrymandering paved the way for the US's anti-abortion movement

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Alabama: attorney drops charges against pregnant woman shot in stomach

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 09:57

Lawyers defending the woman argued the state used a ‘flawed and twisted rationale’ that ‘ignores the law and ignores reason’

An Alabama district attorney said on Wednesday she is dropping charges against a woman who was indicted for manslaughter after she lost her foetus when was shot during a fight.

Marshae Jones was arrested last week after a grand jury concluded she intentionally caused the death of her foetus by initiating a fight, knowing she was pregnant.

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Sexism in dictionaries: why are 'hussy, baggage and filly' still used to describe a woman?

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 06:35

From the Oxford English Dictionary to Google’s own, the synonyms given for woman are shockingly derogatory – while the entries for ‘man’ are almost universally positive. Now one campaign is trying to take sexism out of the dictionary

Think of the word “woman” and do you automatically think “bitch”? Or hussy, baggage or bit? These are, according to various traditional dictionaries, synonyms for “woman”, which came as a bit of a shock to Maria Beatrice Giovanardi as she typed the word into a search engine one night in January. Giovanardi was seeking inspiration as she tried to name a new project for the women’s rights group she was involved with and was looking for alternative words for “woman”. What she discovered instead was a wealth of derogatory entries. “They are offensive and I don’t believe they are synonyms for ‘woman’,” she says. “I don’t understand why they are there.”

Giovanardi started looking into it more deeply, using the default dictionaries on different search engines. And she began to explore whether men were given similar treatment. They weren’t – the most derogatory synonym for “man” given by dictionaries she found were “bozo” and “geezer”. She was alarmed, too, by the example sentences given below the definitions. Many, she noticed, were themselves sexist, involving stereotypes and centring men. “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman,” is one from Oxford Dictionaries.

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We're having a fantastic summer of women’s sport – even if some men refuse to move with the times

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 06:21

Women’s football, cricket and netball are more popular than ever, and provide us with role models that break stereotypes of what women can do or should look like

This summer is a great one for women’s sport. We will see England, the reigning Commonwealth champions, going for gold at the Netball World Cup 2019 next week, and the Women’s Ashes are in full swing. But nothing has captured the nation’s imagination quite like the women’s football World Cup.

I’m one of those people who, when asked if I watch football, replies: “Only when the World Cup is on” - but I never thought that response would also encompass the women’s game. Given how generously the title “role model” is handed out to footballers, it has been refreshing to watch players living up to it for once. Simply by existing, the Women’s World Cup teams provide a direct challenge to stifling ideas of what a woman can do – and what a healthy woman looks like. And while there are still no openly gay male footballers active in the upper echelons of the sport, there are many openly lesbian players, coaches and trainers who are outspoken about LGBT and women’s rights in the female game.

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The week the internet cancelled the Dalai Lama

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 05:32

Spiritual leader issued a statement saying he is ‘deeply sorry’ after outcry from Twitter users over his remark that a female successor must be ‘attractive’

The Dalai Lama has become the latest person to be “cancelled” by the internet, a victim of today’s online culture, in which one conversation can get anyone disavowed.

Sixty years ago, the Dalai Lama fled his homeland of Tibet on horseback because of Chinese persecution against Buddhists, and 30 years ago he received the Nobel peace prize for being a messenger of non-violence.

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Mordaunt targets ‘appalling’ Northern Ireland abortion laws

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 02:31

Equalities minister calls for government to act after Tory rivals rule out reform

The women and equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, has signalled her determination to change the “appalling” abortion laws in Northern Ireland a day after the two Conservative leadership rivals ruled out reform on the issue.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were accused of pandering to religious fundamentalists in the Democratic Unionist party by claiming that abortion rights were a matter for the devolved assembly if power sharing was restored.

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Gary Lineker is BBC's best-paid star again, but women close gap

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 01:50

Many female stars have had pay rises, while male news presenters have taken cuts

Gary Lineker has maintained his status as the BBC’s highest earner after the broadcaster’s leading male sports presenters refused to take pay cuts, although many of the corporation’s foremost women have had substantial wage increases.

The Match of the Day host took home £1.75m from the corporation last year, while his fellow pundit Alan Shearer was paid £440,000. Other highly paid sports pundits include Jermaine Jenas on £210,000 a year and Ian Wright on £205,000, while John McEnroe is paid £190,000 for taking part in the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.

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Only 1% of gender equality funding is going to women’s organisations – why? | Kasia Staszewka, Tenzin Dolker and Kellea Miller

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 20:00

There’s been a $1bn boost in support in the last two years, but only tiny pots of money are trickling down to feminist groups

In the past two years alone, governments and international institutions have announced more than $1bn (£0.8bn) in new commitments to support gender equality globally.

These include: €500m (£440m) for the European Union and UN’s joint Spotlight Initiative, €120m by France for its feminist foreign policy and $114m by Norway to end sexual and gender-based violence in conflicts. Canada has announced CAD$490m (£290m) towards three programmes: women’s leadership ($150m), the LGBTQ2 Fund ($40m), and the Equality Fund ($300m). This fund was among the nearly $600m committed to women and girls in June at the Women Deliver conference.

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The Handmaid’s Tale comes to life in Alabama. Women must heed the warning | Zoe Williams

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:00

The ludicrous indictment of Marshae Jones for the manslaughter of her unborn child is an extreme example of a disturbing pattern

Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when another woman, Ebony Jemison, shot her in the stomach, in an Alabama town called Pleasant Grove. The 27-year-old Jones survived but the foetus, hit by the bullet, did not. Jemison successfully pleaded self-defence, since her gun was drawn in the middle of a fight that Jones reportedly started and was winning – according to an unnamed police source – until the gun was fired.

Since the shooter was exonerated, it seems odd still to be preoccupied with who started the fight. But this is one of two key elements in the extraordinary case against Jones, who was indicted for the manslaughter of her unborn child. As a pregnant woman, Jones’s alleged decision to provoke an altercation represented wilful endangerment. Since the law in Alabama confers “personhood” on a foetus, Jones was treated as she would have been had she endangered a child. Her lawyers have yet to decide whether or not to build a challenge to that idea of “personhood” into their case.

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Boys love these Lionesses too. A football revolution is coming | Sam Haddad

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:00

My sons are just thrilled England are in a World Cup semi-final. That enthusiasm means a threshold has been crossed

Last Friday morning I woke up to my nine-year-old son shouting: “Did you see that Lucy Bronze goal!?” as he burst into the bedroom. His six-year-old brother was right behind him, earnestly re-enacting the England player’s 20-yard thunderbolt with all his might. They’d followed our usual protocol for evening kickoffs on school nights, inaugurated with England’s men in the World Cup last summer and honed with Liverpool in the Champions League this season. They watch the first half with my husband and me before bed, then watch the second half on catch-up the next morning.

That this time it was women playing rather than men made no discernible difference to their levels of interest or excitement. For them it was just football – and compelling football at that, in which England were doing well.

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Talking About Talking: Perpetuating Bias in our Culture

Women's eNews - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 13:58

We are in the midst of a long-overdue discussion about the role of speech in perpetuating racial biases in our culture. Presidential candidate Joe Biden triggered the talk when he recalled working in the senate with the notoriously racist Mississippi Democrat James O. Eastland. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son,’” Biden remembered.

He talked of those bygone days as a time of “civility,” which prompted critics to note that segregationists like Eastland commonly called grown black men “boys,” a term meant to degrade and demean them.

Hurtful rhetoric that demeans Black individuals has been part of our modus operandi, often operating well below the surface of conscious choice. But this latest dust-up over language could have a positive outcome–drawing attention to the fact that speech can also perpetuate harmful gender biases. And men are not alone in using phrases to put women down; women are also at fault.

From the time I was a little girl, I used to bristle at my mother when she talked about “playing bridge with the girls.” What girls? I thought. She was about forty-five years old, and the “girls” were her women friends, also in their mid-forties. At the time, I didn’t say anything to my mother, not yet aware that by being a quiet bystander I was complicit in preserving the stereotype that women were child-like. That was then; now when I hear such demeaning slights I am quicker to voice my objections.

A few years ago, I was accompanying my husband to an appointment with his eye doctor. Before seeing the doctor, patients had to complete a few routine lab tests. The lab technicians in this office were all women. At the conclusion of the tests, the office manager told us to wait in the reception area until “one of the girls” called our name. Once again, I bristled. What girls? My immediate thought was, if the technicians were male, would the office manager have told us “to wait until one of the boys called our name?” Rather than “let it go,” assuming she did not mean anything derogatory, I called the manager aside, telling her that I wanted to talk to her privately. I shared my feelings and was relieved that, after a bit of defensiveness, the manager listened to what I had to say. She asked me how she should say it differently, and I suggested that she tell patients that “one of the technicians” would call their name when the doctor was ready to see them.

I haven’t been back to that eye doctor’s office since then, but I feel certain that our talk raised the manager’s awareness of what she was doing unconsciously, and decreased the chance that she will make the same mistake again.

As Carmen Rios writes on the website, Everyday Feminism,  “saying ‘girl(s)’ comes naturally to me, as it does to so many of us. But just like calling [mixed sex] groups of people ‘guys’ is a widespread and completely normalized practice that inadvertently minimizes the existence of women, so does calling groups of people ‘girls.’

“And yetthe use of the word ‘girls’ to refer to women is very rarely called out as sexist. In fact, it still goes largely unnoticed, even by people who should ‘know better.’ Even media with feminist leanings use the word ‘girls’ as a catchall for adult topics or stories about adult women. Consider the titles of shows like Girlfriends, New Girl, Gilmore Girls, and even Lena Dunham’s own Girls; or movies like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Girl, Interrupted; and Dream Girls. Even the book Girlboss is guilty.

That’s because calling women ‘girls’ is commonplace, and most people don’t bat an eyelash when they do it or when they hear someone else doing it. In fact, calling women ‘girls’ is so normal that people actually feel uncomfortable calling them ‘women’ instead. Yet, it is important to deal with these uncomfortable feelings because there are consequences of not doing so. When we call women ‘girls,’ we’re using the force of language to make them smaller. We resist and deny their maturity, their adulthood, and their true power. When you call a woman a ‘girl,’ you’re actually saying a lot of very serious things about gender politics and womanhood.”

And there are serious consequences. 

A girl is a female under the age of eighteen, so when the word ‘girl’ is used to describe adult females, it implies that women are immature or childish. Thus, language perpetuates the stereotype of women as emotional, irrational, weak, and helpless. 

There are other troubling consequences. When women are referred to as  ‘girls,’ it makes it easier for superiors in the workplace to ignore them and their contributions. Women may also be passed over for promotions because it’s difficult for bosses to appreciate the abilities or career advancement potential of ‘girls’. Further, it’s hard to think of yourself as a capable leader and thinker when you are called a girl or, even worse, when you think of yourself as a girl. 

This behavior garnered international attention in 2015 when the British paper the Guardian reported that then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd were greeted outside 10 Downing Street by a photographer calling to them, “Morning, girls!” For the record, The Guardian noted,  “Morgan is 42 and Rudd 51. Both are well beyond their teen years, when such a greeting might have been apt. Morgan, who is also ‘minister for women’ – that’s women – and equalities, had a witty comeback, shouting, ‘Girls? Girls?!’ The photographer quickly apologized.”

Unfortunately, even old age will not provide protection against the harmful effects of dismissive language. This point was brought home to me several years ago when I took my mother, who was roughly the same age I am now, to a medical appointment. The intake nurse had a number of questions, all of which she addressed to me. My mother, who was as fully competent then, as I am today, was completely ignored; it was as if she wasn’t even in the examination room. Once I saw the pattern, I called the nurse out and insisted that she direct her questions to the person with the answers–my mother.

Just as black males of all ages have been devalued by being called ‘boy,’ women of all ages have been demeaned and trivialized by being called ‘girl.’

Hopefully, the Biden dust-up will ignite a meaningful discussion about language and biases that will have beneficial effects during the 2020 election season, and well beyond.

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