Sunday, December 04, 2005

Language, I say again for the 1,000th time, shapes our culture

Thanks to media girl for directing me to The American Street's account of the Oregon rape trial in which the alleged victim is being charged with a crime. It turns out that Kevin Hayden, blogger for The American Street, knows the alleged victim and attended the trial. Hayden points out that, although the alleged rapists are men, the judge referred to them as "boys," thus bringing about the obscene, but accepted, concept that "boys will be boys."

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am constantly ranting about the power of language, and that feminism will not take hold until women insist (like we did during the Second Wave) that we be referred to as women, not as girls. Neither men nor women refer to men as boys, except in the concept of "a night out with the boys," but grown women are constantly referred to as children: "This girl who works at my office" (who is usually about 35 years old), "I was dating this girl" (who turns out to be 30), etc. To refer to a man as a "boy" is rare indeed. The judge knew exactly what he was doing.


Concerning boys. Maybe it is the group I hang out with, but I hear men referred to as boys (in much the way women often get referred to as girls) all the time.

"That's my new boy."
"That's the boy who works with me."

etc. Now, I honestly can't say if it's as often as women being referred to as girls. (I've never tried to measure it.) But I certainly hear men referred to as boys in contexts other than the "boys will be boys" one.

By Anonymous LC, at 12:41 AM  

That is unusual, or at least in my experience. It's no more appealing than calling women girls, but at least its equal silliness.

I'm wondering, though, when talk becomes serious, such as workplace business, etc.--are the men still boys?

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