Female is not a noun.
Before anyone questions this, here is a literal dictionary definition:
IT IS AN ADJECTIVE. I REPEAT. IT IS AN ADJECTIVE.
Most of the time I see the use of “female” as a noun coming from a lovely place called Men on the Internet. Yeah, I get it, #notallmen. But I have witnessed men, that previously had my complete respect, use this word attempting to be funny. The internet is an interesting place. People can post memes, re-tweets, and re-grams, and this tricks these people into thinking they are award-winning comedians with the simple use of words such as “lit”, “savage”, and yes, you guessed it, “females”.
The Solution: Step One
Recognize that female is not a noun.
Do you remember in elementary school when you learned that “bitch” means “female dog,” so you used an otherwise scientific word to get away with cursing? Do you know why there is a completely different word for a female dog? Because FEMALE IS NOT A NOUN. You can say, “female adult,” “female infant,” “female canine.” Because this is an adjective, and adjectives are placed before the noun they are describing! !!! !!
If that didn’t clear things up, here is a fun analogy for you.
For funsies, let’s use the word “male” incorrectly as a noun, substituted for when I should be using the word “men” or “boy.” (which are nouns, thanks)
My milkshake brings all the males to the yard.
My brother is in the Male Scouts.
Males 2 Men, or Boys 2 Males or Males to Males – take your pick!
When applied to the opposite, the privileged sex, doesn’t this sound absolutely ridiculous?
The Solution: Step Two
Don’t call female-identifying people females.
I can hear the arguments already from mansplainers and ignoramus everywhere. “Wow, feminazi! It’s just a little word.” “I don’t see the big deal.” “You’re really worked up about one word!”
Hell yes, I am. The use of “females” to describe women and children is problematic. Using this non-noun to describe living, breathing humans is not only incorrect but lazy and dismissive.
Thankfully there are some other words you can use instead of female. Like, WOMEN, LADIES, GIRLS, BADASSES. This brings me to an entirely new discussion; the appropriate distinction between “women” and “girls.” I’ve broken each word down for your convenience.
Any person who identifies as a woman is old enough to
1. Earn a living.
2. Participate in higher education if she so chooses.
3. To vote and participate in society legally.
4. Generally anyone over the age of 18. Here are some extras in case I haven’t been clear enough.
5. Be a mother to cats, dogs, and children alike.
6. Be over 18 years old.
Those are just some things that can make the distinction between a “female child” and a “female adult” just in case you, for some reason, cannot make the distinction with your own eyeballs. And NEVER underestimate the power of a girl!
Girl/Girls- A female-identifying child. Legally defined as being under 18 years of age, but likely to have already experienced the heartbreak of oppression and the patriarchy already. Sharp as a tack. Can recognize human rights and has a moral distinction most adults do not have.
A female-identifying child. Legally defined as being under 18 years of age, but likely to have already experienced the heartbreak of oppression and the patriarchy already. Sharp as a tack. Can recognize human rights and has a moral distinction most adults do not have.
But wait. THERE’S A CATCH. I know this is a lot of work, but please hear me out.
Please Do Not Refer To Grown-Up Women As Girls.
It’s not acceptable for anyone, man or woman, to refer to women as “girls” in almost all settings. Whether it is a professional, academic, or religious establishment, please call adult women WOMEN.
BUT WHY? Why, you nasty woman?
Because this, yet again, denies women of their womanhood. Calling women “girls” is denying them of their experience as mothers, managers, employees, academics, and general adults who have really been through some shit to earn their right to be recognized as an adult. Little girls obviously grow into amazing, hardworking women, but the difference between children, and grown, adult women deserves acknowledgment.
Again, this is an issue the opposite sex does not seem to have. After a certain age, boys become men and never look back. Of course, there are societal standards for masculinity and manhood, and I am not denying that. But (straight) men are acknowledged for being men always. Their experiences are never denied. They are never infantilized.
Also relevant. “Little girl” needs to lose the connotation ASAP. When I use it, I am literally referring to children. I am not using it to say small children are incapable or inferior. “You run like a girl.” “You throw like a girl.” “Don’t be a little girl about it.” Etc. To put it bluntly, this shit needs to stop. There is no excuse.
Ugh! Now I AM SO MAD.
Sometimes I even catch myself saying “girls” in place of “women.” I am now very conscious of this. These are small words with big meaning. Take control! Sometimes I will even correct people if it’s appropriate. For example, recently I was talking to a family friend about his relationships. He is 34 years old, and he said, “I don’t date random girls”. I said, “You don’t date random women. We are women. Call us women.” And he took my advice and didn’t think twice about it. I’m not trying to be all-knowing or mean in my corrections. This is simply a problem and the solution is simple.
On a closing note, I will say that after being in Europe for almost a year and studying two languages simultaneously, there are different words in different languages to mean “girl” and “woman”, and culturally the uses are much different. I’m not giving you a French or Spanish lesson here. I’m speaking directly to you, native-English speakers. You know who you are.
The next time you begin to use the word “girl,” check yourself. Are you talking about a grown-up woman or a child? Adjust accordingly.
On behalf of all women everywhere,