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Girl Talk: When, If Ever is It Appropriate?

Recently I sat down to grade papers for a diversity class I teach and was surprised like you wouldn’t believe. Reading one of the student’s papers I was all of a sudden faced with an intriguing situation. The student started the paper by informing me that he was in a local business and over heard two people discussing J.W. Wiley’s take on the word “girl.” Aside from the fact that this business owner was publicly disparaging me with gossip that could be heard by anyone within earshot, the business owner is also a woman who condones “girl talk” as well, and was attempting to make a point about not just the substance of my message, but the delivery of my message. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem for me to hear about and I’ve even had students close to me ask me about my delivery or style, trying to figure out the rhyme or reason for my approach at times. That has never bothered me. But this business owner allegedly didn’t realize that she was criticizing and chastising me for my style of delivering a message while she was displaying her style, class (or lack thereof), and aplomb before people that she had no clue might possibly be connected to me somehow. In this case, one of them happened to be a student of mine who decided to include some of the specifics of the business owner’s public critique in a paper he was writing on gender. The main reason the student included the business owner’s comments in the paper was that he couldn’t understand how, under any circumstances, this business woman wasn’t in agreement that the use of the term “girl” is very much inappropriate when aimed at an adult woman.

Now, this business owner has a reputation for gossiping to the point where I know a couple of people who have never returned to her business because of their disinterest in hearing her gossip or share her opinion of people that she barely knows, or obviously can only articulate stereotypically. I once wrote a blog on gossiping (October 7, 2007 “Neighborly Gossip: Dissed Respect or Just Down Right Un-Neighborly?”). In this case though, what motivated this gossip was a conversation I allegedly had one night at a bar with the business owner’s husband. During an extended period of time the business owner’s husband repeatedly referred to women as “girls.” Now, I don’t mean young women under the age of 18—which we actually can feel comfortable referring to as girls because legally they aren’t considered women yet—even though their intellectual engagement and responsibility levels may transcend that of many women older than them. The business owner’s husband must have referred to at least four different women as girls in a span of about 45 minutes. His references were so casual and inconsiderate, and vocal, that finally I felt I had no choice but to engage him about it. And believe me, I don’t get off on being the diversity police, but after years of encountering him and having to sit by and watch him toss around “girl” I wouldn’t have been able to sleep that night if I hadn’t challenged him.
I was also prompted to engage him because he has a tendency to project a level of sophistication in his manner and world view that is above reproach—so somewhat as a favor, I wanted to point out to him that he might be undercutting his social image—not too mention framing his respect for women and/or his understanding of women’s struggle in a very negative manner. So, on some level, I was attempting to give him an assist, perhaps challenge him to think beyond his own socialized and inconsiderate perspective. Hence, I didn’t attack him, nor belittle him for referring to adult women in a manner he wouldn’t refer to adult men. Yes, at no point in the evening did he refer to any man as a boy. So, I asked him an obvious question to take a round-about-approach to the conversation. I asked him if he loved his 13 year old daughter. He answered yes, with no hesitation. I then asked him if he loved his wife, mother, sisters, aunts, etc. His answer was an unequivocal yes to all these questions. I then asked him if he had little patience for men who disrespect women. He answered yes to this as well.
I then politely pointed out to him those references to adult women as girls contribute to the infantilizing of women. I also shared with him that reference to groups of people that had five women and one man, or three women and one man, or four men and one woman (in other words, any combination of mixed gender in a group) as guys” was problematic as well because it kept men at the center, even though women do it just as much as men. Now I understand that many things we say are just instances of language use that are as automatic as men putting on pants and women wearing brassieres. However, it still is worthwhile for us to consider why we use the language we use as much as it doesn’t hurt for men to consider why we don’t wear dresses and for women to consider why men don’t wear brassieres (when we all know that some men should as much as some women really don’t need to wear them).

If most of the problems with social injustice are a result of the way we are socialized or a result of our inadequate unpacking of how we were inappropriately indoctrinated in terms of how we engage differences, then while we don’t want to disparage each other for our inconsideration, we still do want to improve our environment by challenging one another to consider the consequences of those actions we exhibit that are problematic. In essence, that is what I was doing with him, trying to get him to “consider” the statements he might be making about women and the sexist world he was further adversely perpetuating for his daughter to grow up in. I pointed out that his blindly spewing language that he himself had been basically introduced to in his ascent to adulthood wasn’t necessarily his fault until the logic of the transgression was pointed out to him, but from that point forward it was his fault. He didn’t like the insinuation of him possibly transgressing, in any way, shape, or form, and loudly attempted to cry foul. He implemented what I jokingly and arbitrarily often refer to as “move number 14,” and immediately went into a spiel about how it isn’t that serious. He followed that rationale with what I now will jokingly refer to as move number 29, the argument that “he’s always spoken that way (the fallacy referred to as “the argument to tradition”).” Both of these arguments are extremely weak, especially for a Black man to use (yes, he was Black), because they are the same arguments that people used back in the day to justify calling people that look like him and me boy (and other disparaging terms) before so-called Civil Rights were inadequately distributed in our society. When I pointed out the hypocrisy of his position he only got louder and more annoyed. Go figure!

Ultimately his voice became louder and edgier. Ironically, the edge that eventually arose from me in my exchange with him came from his repeatedly talking over his wife’s voice in a very disrespectful way, as if she should know to defer when he was talking. It got so bad that I pointed it out to him a couple of times and he summarily dismissed that as well, as she got silent each time he did it, rolling her eyes in disdain, while nevertheless yielding the conversation to him. Then later, in the student’s paper, it was revealed to me that she didn’t like my style of communicating. I found this so bizarre, seeing as how she was visibly disturbed by his dominating the conversation, not allowing her to get a word in most times.

So, my questions to you are these:

Why do men get so defensive when you point out the fact that they are hypocritically disrespecting the same women that they claim to love?

Should men (or people) get a pass on possible disrespectful language simply because the language has always been used that way?

How many of you think that the elimination of “girl talk” might actually contribute to a necessary change in consciousness towards the way we think, speak, and treat women?

Should women also stop the “girl talk” or is “girl talk” an accepted “in-group” thing similar to the use of the N-word by some African Americans, B-word by some women, and F-word by some gays, and R-word by some people with disabling conditions? In other words, is it okay for adult women to call one another “girl” but inappropriate for men to do it?

Should women who consider themselves feminist or socially liberated feel like hypocrites by further contributing to keeping themselves marginalized while simultaneously keeping men in the center when an extreme example of this can be seen when they say “farewell you guys” to a group of all women?

Obviously you don’t have to just answer these questions, but go wherever you choose to go in discussing “girl talk.”

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Comments

I can't say I'm all that surprised that he responded with anger when you pointed out that the connotative meaning of calling grown women "girl" is infantilizing and disrespectful, since you were challenging both his attitude about what is appropriate in general, and his self-image as someone who is respectful of women.

It also does sound like his disrespect is broader than simple terminology, judging from your description of his interactions with his wife.

That said, people don't like being called on their hypocrisy. I find that a truly open mind and a willingness to critically evaluate oneself is a rarity, rather than the norm.

However, in our society I don't think "girl" has quite the same connotative impact as "boy" does, when applied to an adult. Calling a man "boy" is an obvious put-down, in a way that calling a woman "girl" is not.

If those characterized in a way do not object to that characterization, then does it make sense for an outsider to condemn it as wrong?

Damn..thats rough J.W. What I understand though, because a woman told me this herself, Its not fair for me to correct a woman when she calls herself "girl". The reason is because it would be similiar to me telling her how to refer to herself, and thus adding to the oppression. Even though my intentions may be pure, it wouldn't be good if I did it. Imagine the oppressor telling the oppressed not to disrespect themself, that is what she communicated to me...

I personally don't call grown women, girls, and I feel its not to eliminate the word, but somehow try to understand and change the perception. J.W., you may have said this a million times over so sorry if it seems recurrent but I feel some people just don't recognize the problems associated with their language.

We've also been trained in HRTM not to say "guys" to a table of people as its disrespectful not only to the older crowd but to any woman seated at the table.

As a final note, I would like to say there is some duality in me when hearing a woman say girl and when I refer to a girl as a woman. I'm often at a loss of what to do when a woman wants to be referred to as a "girl" but I say woman...

J.W. the issue that stands out is this person’s obvious low self-esteem, characterized by his “talking-over” his wife when she tried to be part of the conversation. This is a tell tale sign of a person who needs to not only impart his opinions and beliefs to those around him but to also make sure that they adopt them as their own. This is often the case with someone who may appear confident and of high self esteem but then when they are challenged in anyway the mask of self-confidence starts to slip and they resort to controlling measures; those closest to them are frequently the first to be “tuned-up” and brought under control. It sounds as though this man either consciously or unconsciously resorts to these measures when he uses the term “girl” towards a woman. After all the term implies that the woman is immature and not fully formed intellectually or emotionally and needs guidance and molding by an adult force. I do think that many of us fall back into terms like “girl” and “boy” in a casual, playful way and not in a derogatory sense (yes, I admit I am guilty of it as well). However when that term is used by someone who tends to be dismissive and controlling towards his spouse, it has a different meaning and an edge to it. When we as women use these terms towards other women, or even ourselves, we are perpetuating the thought that women need to be controlled, and directed by someone smarter and stronger than us…our husbands/boyfriends/lovers? If we as adult women do not acknowledge respect for the wisdom and independence we have fought for and gained in what was once a male dominated society in something as base as our language, how can we expect the other people in our lives to acknowledge and respect our accomplishments? I will be more mindful of my words to my friends on “ladies” night in the future!

The 'girl talk' dilemma is one I have been struggling with for a long time now. I find myself constantly stuttering, verbally struggling when referring to a woman. I almost always catch myself at "gi-...or woman," frustrating me to no end. Sometimes I question the importance of these seemingly minute lifestyle changes. How powerful is language? There are some words that hold great power, which is evident in the reaction that they elicit. For example, when some women are confronted with the "B-word," she may become extremely offended, even possibly remember that moment for the rest of her life. Language is power, and with language comes the ability to exercise your invisible privilege. In recognizing our linguistic privilege, we are confronted with a stereotypical vision of ourselves that seems subtle but deserves recognition.
Nobody likes to admit that they have a problem. In Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, the first step to recovery is stating that you have a problem-- accountability and acceptance. This is arguably one of the hardest steps of the program. I understand why your friend was so reluctant to hold himself accountable. Someone who considers her/himself an enlightened contribution to society hardly wants to see themselves as an oppressor, as counter-productive to "the cause." This reminds me of a personal moment when I was confronted with my using the word 'black' in an essay rather than capitalizing the 'B.' At first I grew defensive, looking for justification in using the lower-case 'b' to reference a race of people, when I capitalize the 'A' in Arab. It's not easy to hold ourselves accountable and its even harder to approach those closest to us on their "invisible knapsack." It is important for men especially to challenge each other, building a new definition of masculinity that doesn't focus on the denunciation of femininity and infantalization of women.
As a final point, in hindering others right to speaking (i.e. constant interruptions), it is a form of linguistic discrimination-- no better than any other type of discrimination-- and is ultimately about power, privilege, and control of where the conversation flows.
For now I will continually stutter, stopping whenever I can catch myself--or if I am so lucky to have a friend nearby who feels comfortable enough to challenge me on my language-use.

I struggled with this topic for the longest time. The first time I was challenged on “girl talk” was by JW during orientation, and I being an immature soon to be college freshmen blew it off, thinking I would never see this guy again (haha, was I wrong).
Using the tradition argument, the word has always been used in my household with no disregard. After hearing JW’s argument and doing a lot reflection I have come to agree, thus trying to change my ‘tradition’ of ‘girl talk’. Just a quick background.

Which leads me to my first point, while driving a co-worker to an event I corrected myself for using girl in the middle of our conversation. She then tried to re-correct me, “you should stop correcting yourself, it’s not an issue at all.” After a reflective pause, I asked her “why do you think I correct myself?” With no response, I explained myself (much as JW did years ago, and how he did in this posting). She had no response and then escaped to the event.
So, I guess, answering one of your questions, it depends on the situation when you can have “girl talk”, as with anything I guess. If you are in a group of close friends you tend to be more comfortable and are able to talk much more freely.
However, I still need to ask, can you ever be truly comfortable in a group setting?
Isn’t there always the potential someone may take what you say the wrong way? Much like the gossiper not realizing who her audience is (or did she?)?
Should we always be aware of this, thus making more of an attempt to change our language, even when we are comfortable?

Responding briefly to Animals comment because I think it fits with this point. People will call themselves what they would like, much like using the f-word or n-word as JW pointed out in their respected situations. I like your statements Animal: “it is like the oppressor telling the oppressed not to disrespect themselves”, not right. Although I do feel that individuals should be able to talk about the issue brought up and be responsive to your inquire on language, whether it is “girl talk” or something else. As Jennarajah said: Language is Powerful.

Another issue that I have come across in the past year has been “boy talk”, which I never really noticed until I moved to my current position. One of my supervisors (a women) goes on and on about the “boys” in the (majority female) office. “The boy’s side”, “the boy’s work”, “the boy’s do not work hard enough”, “the boys, etc.” This is the first time I have ever felt discriminated based on my gender. Admittedly, I am apart of the problem too, as I have not spoken up (which is very unusual for me) and have followed this office sentiment for sometime now. Thinking it is just the way it is.
Moving a little further, the women being in an administrative role, what can I do about this situation?
If I challenge the issue would I just subject myself to office tension? Or possibly worse, elimination?
Which, doesn’t this sounds awfully familiar to stories we have all read…civil rights…women rights…etc?

Men want to be women. This is an unconscious desire and if brought to the conscious mind, would be unbearable to handle…allow me.

There is a period of time during pregnancy when all fetuses are female. It isn’t until the sex hormones are switched on that the fetus either grows a penis or remains with a vagina. Because female is the default (and can be interpreted to some as the “natural” or “correct” version of human), men are forever peeved that they cannot be what they were “rightfully supposed to be.”

That is definitely a take on why males get so frustrated with the women they claim to love.

Language is culture. In the United States’, white supremacist, sexist, heterosexual, able bodied dominated culture, the word “girl” is used to degrade women (there are other words too-ah, the beauty of language).

Being a woman in the said culture, even without the word “girl” being used to reinforce your “place in society,” it would be difficult to see yourself any other way then replaceable and on the same level as “niggers,” “retards,” and “fags,” (the others). I wonder if actions would be used in place of language to oppress “the other” if tongues and voice boxes were not included in evolution/creation.

Because we do have the gift of gab, language does reflect how we see ourselves. I believe that if women can empower themselves (ourselves) through our speech, we can save ourselves; but will our men allow it? Will we need more than just speech? Is violence the answer? If fire is fought with water, there is still steamy residue of what was-and what of the damage? Will there be visible evidence of what was? Maybe that’s the point.

When women finally become equals in our society, eventually surpassing men what words will be used to oppress males? Will men talk among themselves about how words like “boy” “dog” and “penis” are used to perpetuate their inferiority? Will they call themselves such words?

Should “you guys” be changed to “you people?”

Conversations over language flumux (sp?)me, J.W., particularly when we're discussing whether or not it's appropriate for me to refer to someone the same way they might refer to themselves. How can that possibly be IN-appropriate?

At the same time, I understand the pajorative (sp?) nature of the word "girl" in certain contexts. It's certainly not appropriate in an office setting But, can it not also be a term of endearment in others situations? For example, if I'm talking with my wife about what she commonly refers to as a "girls' night out" must I refer to it as a "women's night out" in the same conversation? I talk about "boys night out" occasionally. Am I oppressing my fellow males by doing so?

I've heard co-workers refer to "the girls in the office" quite often, and, it does actually grate like sandpaper. The women who work in my office are highly skilled, professional, thorough people and they deserve more respect than that particular reference affords them.

Like always, J.W. I guess it's all about context.

I constantly encounter men and women who don’t think twice about using the word “girl” to describe a woman. Many women do not find it offensive to have the term used to describe them. In fact, many women seem to be flattered by the word. It just rolls off the tongue for some men as they have always heard the reference made in a “seemingly” affectionate manner by their peers and supposed role models. Are they clueless? Perhaps. The bigger question is, if they are clueless, why are they clueless?

I believe some of the answer lies in a lack of perspective. It may also be that “girl talkers” have 1.) Never been challenged to consider the consequences of using language that contributes to sexist and misogynistic attitudes, or, 2.) They have been challenged, but refuse to open their thought bubble. Unfortunately, “girl talk” seems okay because the media has saturated the word “girl” into fashion and entertainment in such a way that it resonates as hip, glamorous, sexy, vibrant and energetic; the common mainstream illusion, which defaults as “acceptable” to a whole lot of subliminally conditioned individuals. Personally, I don’t want to be a member of that herd. I want to be able to respectfully hear and consider another perspective other than the one that trickled into my brain through osmosis and remains on the basis of, “Well, that’s the way it’s always been.”

While it is difficult to gain a perspective, unless you have lived it, it shouldn’t be impossible to try to understand that women have been marginalized and treated as unequal to men throughout most of history. Given this fact, and the fact that people have dedicated their lives to providing equal rights for women, it seems we should at least be cautious not to take their accomplishments for granted by refusing to think about the consequences of our language.

I cannot discern much of a differnece between verbal gossip and blog gossip. Your palpable disrespect for the "business owner," as well as your widespread reputation for disrespect toward, harrassment of, and sexually predatory behaviors against women, makes the question of whether you call us girls or women a mere attempt to distract us from your more insidious, and infamous, misogyny.

*** Erin Mitchell, the policy of this blog is to try to stay on point about the topic and stay away from the personal. However, as one of my SUNY Plattsburgh so-called colleagues who felt comfortable stating the things you stated, we might as well do this. The weight of your accusations merits a response at length.

Your inability to discern blog gossip and verbal gossip is not surprising to me and anyone who knows you. My widespread reputation must not be that widespread since I have full classrooms, even in subjects like Philosophy that often struggle to attract students. My widespread reputation also keeps me pretty busy doing work around the North Country, and beyond, and mentoring too many students for me to even attempt to count, many of them young women. My so-called "sexually predatory behavior" can easily be misconstrued by women who are supposed to be liberated and progressive in seeking an egalitarian status in our society, but are uncomfortable with men who engage young women in the same proximity that they engage young men.

I do have the ability to discern your message as a disgruntled colleague who may struggle with my hard earned reputation of being student centered and fairly popular while you labor in obscurity, surfacing on occasion to take a shot at someone you don't even know, but have bought into the hype about. In all my nine years at SUNY Plattsburgh I have only once had a student attempt to frame me for sexual harassment. She did it after taking multiple classes from me and TAing for me. She was a young woman who was highly motivated with an extremely high intellect. She also had some habits that would rule her out from any possibility of being sexually harassed by me, at least by anyone who knows me. When she received a B and B+ in the same semester after previously being a TA for me and after receiving 2 A grades as a student, it took her a full semester before she even broached the topic to the proper personnel. She for some unknown reason decided not to go forward. I had never been so insulted in my life, but I put it into context and moved on. Just like racial minorities can play the race card, and economically deprived people can leverage their poverty against the wealthy, it isn't rocket science to know that disgruntled women who are basically unhappy with their lives or looking to scapegoat someone will sometimes play the gender/sexist/harassment card. Come on Erin, can't you bring more game to the blog than that?

Now, back to the matter at hand. Anyone who knows your full story might find it quite interesting to put some of the puzzle pieces together and delve a bit deeper into some other motivations you might have had to post to the blog on this occasion when you have never done it before. Let's see, could it be your relationship with the "store owner" who I never named, nor described? Or could it be an axe to grind from another relationship that you have with someone who isn't a fan of mine? But your ethic in terms of social justice wouldn't have you conflating the personal with the professional, right? Not you?

For the most part people in this community who have taken the time to get to know me know the quality of the individual. People who don't know me do what they do, take shots because they can, because they are "haters," or because they simply have too much time on their hands, or desire a bit of celebrity and can get that by attacking me. Your accusations have about as much substance as the fact that you are a Women's Studies adjunct lecturer who had the opportunity to post something significant to a blog topic that is really about the subtleties and inconsideration of men oppressing women and all you had to offer was a personal attack. I hope your 15 minutes of fame was worth it, because as easily as you attacked me, labeled me, and professionally disrespected me, I could produce multitudes of young women who have been mentored by me and would willingly sing my praises. Granted, it doesn't exonerate me from any charges you made, but I would rather play the hand I'm holding than the one with slightly torn (gendered) cards that you are ineptly attempting to play. *** -- J.W.

I guess the line between the personal and professional is blurred when engaging these issues we all take to heart. I wonder if we could ever get to a space where no one gets defensive when discussing these kinds of issues. It’s probably impossible. I’m getting a bit defensive right now as I hear someone comment on Mr. Wiley’s deep-seated misogyny. But, I'll channel my defensive energy intellectual.
This is situation is interesting in several ways. First, it illustrates how the internet can serve as a vehicle to address personal and professional frustrations with individuals or society at large. Second, it freezes virtual experiences so that we can revisit them intellectually and emotionally. Third, it befuddles me to hear a negative take on a man who has had a huge impact on the way I see, appreciate, support and respect women. Fourth, it gets to the core of conversation—language. The way we frame each other and the discussion linguistically predetermines the tension that can ensue after. If the term “girl” is used in an inappropriate context, it reveals layers upon layers of patriarchal conditioning. If a highly popular and affectionate professor who is immensely dedicated to social justice is called an insidious misogynist, then what does this reveal? Does it suggest that human character is a bit more multidimensional? Does it hint to professional or intellectual anxieties that transcend gender itself? Does it mark the magnitude of the wounds inflicted on women by patriarchy? Regardless of what it brings to the surface, the linguistic tension diverted us from getting to some deeper levels on this issue. Or did it not?

Oh this is beautiful. I waited to post...trying to decide if I really had anything to add.

I got a chuckle out of Via Via's sexual differentiation example...clever. Peeved though? I'm not so sure about that. :)

But I'm going to stray off topic...somewhere I shouldn't go (you know me)...but the opportunity is ripe. Where's old KMP? And which of JW's blogs were the ones I so enthusiasticly "jumped ugly" on "academics"?

Dr. Erin Mitchell. When I needed an example of the pointlessness of segments of academia, why didn't I just read her faculty webpage?

Women's Studies in today's society...the professors MUST be cutting edge, right? They must be dealing with real issues, right? They must be connecting with the people...helping kids, dealing with injustice, right?

No...they, and I quote, "argue(d) that Samuel Beckett's poetry, fiction and plays often force characters to enact philosophical systems at their extreme limits, and thus stages the absurdities, gendered violence, and implosions of such systems."

Beckett, Wilde, Coetzee, Duras, and McGuckian? I nearly fell out of my chair! Beckett and Wilde? With a world so ripe with material in her field, Beckett and Wilde come to mind? I do see that she came into the late 90s anyway with a look at images of Sinéad O'Connor. So progressive!

I'm sure she's a good writer and all. She's probably real articulate, right KMP? I mean she uses words like insidious and misogyny. Wow!

Dr. Mitchell...all the details of the past aside, you represent to me all that I've ever been critical of at our institutions of higher learning. No sense of the real world...no sense of perspective...generally no sense. Like JW said...you chose a venue addressing how women are viewed to air your dirty laundry. What type of insight can we gain from your actions here. Professional? Worthy of being considered a leader in your field?

What's that saying about "a woman scorned"?

I apologize for impetuously and inappropriately bringing up your reputation on your blog. Whatever my motives, your speculatiing about them does not change that reputation; only your words and actions towards women can transform your rep.

Erin Mitchell

*** Erin Mitchell, my speculating about your motives wasn't meant to change your take on my reputation. My reputation doesn't hinge upon people who have takes on me from a distance. My professional reputation hinges upon the multitude of students and colleagues who have actually worked with me, learned from me, and taught me. You are a stranger to me as I am sure is evident to all the people who actually do know me. *** -- J.W.

I'm completely dumbfounded and turned off by the venue Dr. Mitchell has chosen to spew her allegations of a colleagues reputation. In what was otherwise a very poignant preamble to engage in discourse concerning language use, Dr. Mitchell took this opportunity not to add any substantive feedback, but instead to take a cheap shot at besmirching Mr. Wiley's character. This was extremely sophomoric and petty. Having acknowledged her impetuousness and inappropriateness for doing such, rather transparently, she still attempts to pass off as factual her baseless assertions of Mr. Wiley's reputation. Nice try, but very ineffective and quite pedestrian.

Ironically, the fixation should be on Dr. Mitchell's own reputation now. What could have been and should have been a forum for her to dispense intellectually stimulating, worthwhile and salient feedback turned into, for reasons unwarranted and unknown, her anemic attempt to spread rumors. Shame on you Dr. Mitchell.

In the spirit of the impetus for this blog in the first place, I do in fact feel that referring to an adult woman as 'girl' marginalizes her status as a woman and infers some degree of adolescence. In this light, I believe there is no better example of its applicability than in this instance of Dr. Mitchell's behavior.

If you say something and it's not true, will people still pause to contemplate? When I think of Dr. Mitchell's contribution (or lack thereof) to this blog, Senator Joe Wilson's outburst comes to mind.


Well, that was a rather disturbing digression...

I was thinking further of this issue, and how the connotative meaning of a word varies a lot with context. For example...

I talk about going out with the "boys", or my wife does, and it does not seem like there is any issue there. Likewise, if she (or I) talk about a "girls night out" or the like, it is about the same. I think of these uses as an "affectionate diminutive", to coin a phrase. Much like my wife calling me a "dork" or my calling one of my best friends a "putz", there is a substantial disconnect between the denotative meaning and the connotative meaning of the words used and (to me) the connotative meaning is far more important than the denotative one.

There is a difference when dealing with someone you don't know, whether addressing someone directly or referring to them. For example...

Calling an adult male "boy" in public is a definite put-down, and the same pertains to calling an adult female "girl." Likewise, referring to an adult not in the conversation or local area as "boy" or "girl", or referring to something as "girl talk" would be infantilizing the individual or the activity.

Sounds similar to the issue of African-Americans using the "n-word" to refer to each other, though with words that are not so widely viewed as reprehensible.

I believe when we speak of diversity, we must realize that we are all products of our socialization within society. We cannot forget this, and get mired down in petty squabbles. Instead, meet people where they are.
The vast majority of people have not had the benefit of higher education where they may have had the opportunity to gain awareness of the impact of semantics on the politics of gender and race.

Building relationships with people and trying to get to a point where you could possibly influence their attitudes is more effective than arguing and alienation.

If we only see people from one narrow perspective, are we not guilty of some type of stereotyping?

I appreciate your good work, JW, however, temper it with love and compassion for the so-called "unenlightened".

*** Julio, I completely agree with you and appreciate the time and energy you spent contributing your advice. My love/compassion for social justice is why I do the work I do, however at times my street edge comes through,especially when someone is inconsiderate of others with less privilege. This entire conversation originated from a student's paper that revealed a discussion about "girl talk." If that conversation hadn't occurred, we wouldn't be having this dialogue because I would not have been comfortable taking it public. However, since it was being publicly discussed, once I discovered that I decided to open it up while attempting to maintain the anonymity of those involved, unlike what was occurring in the discussions that I wasn't privy to about that evening.

Lastly, I know many of us are in different places, but I have always been somewhat uncomfortable with describing someone as "unenlightened" so as to avoid projecting a certain level of intellectual elitism. It may be semantics, but I prefer to say that some of us are a bit further along in our journey towards creating a just society. *** -- J.W.

Is this really about girl/women or is it some way retaliation to the business owner,for speaking about you?

*** Nancy, good question. My answer is that I believe what is good for the gander can also be good for the goose. The moment one of my students wrote in his paper that the evening was being publicly discussed it allowed me to also publicly discuss it. I would have never used that evening as a point of departure for the conversation about "girl talk" if it hadn't already been put out there. Frankly, retaliation against someone who has a reputation for publicly discussing other people's business or what she thinks she knows as other people's business is wasted energy. However, I would bet that many people are now truly rethinking their use of the term "girl" when referring to women as a result of all this provocative dialogue.

I really must thank the business owner for her assist in launching this conversation. Oh, and thank you for the post. *** -- J.W.

Girls and women are taught from birth that being youthful, remaining youthful, and going to great lengths to preserve or augment a youthful appearance is the ultimate goal. In much the same way, (straight) men are instructed as to what an attractive woman should look like. Take a look at the barrage of images, ads, and media all aimed at keepng the young girl/woman at the fore in terms of the public image of womanhood. It seems like female music and movie stars are thrust out of the spotlight just as soon as they are over-the-hill at age 18. Take a look at the boom of age creams, miracle drugs, surgeries, the sexualization of teen girls and women in the media and in pornography... this (male-dominated) society promotes girlhood as the ultimate form of womanhood. The language we use is no coincidence, and the fact that women refer to one-another as "girls" simply speaks to the internalized nature of this particular oppression. As one woman (aged 28) in my office put it, "I am not a woman, I am a girl, girls are young and cute and fun, women are old and gross."

As a frequent reader and occasional responder of this blog, I find it appalling that a professional colleague would use this forum to degrade and demoralize the actions of a coworker. The disparity between the two of them should not have been discussed among the other contributors who took the time to construct their thoughts in a dialogic manner. Even if the accusations were proven factual, this blog should not have been used as an outlet for personal attacks, issues or biases. In the future, if you can’t formulate a constructive, thought-provoking commentary that relates to the subject matter, I would suggest you save your wrists from prematurely developing carpal tunnel syndrome. There are alternative measures you can take when a discrepancy between professional individuals exists.

So Affected by Girl Talk

I was thinking a lot about this blog today regardless of the piles of work that I've been immersed in. In an attempt to understand this situation from a distance and half asleep, I think something interesting happened. One, I distanced myself from my sensei, my mentor, my comrade in arms. I called him...Mr. Wiley. Second, I downplayed the volume of Mitchell's attempt to disrespect the blog, herself and JW. I thought to myself today...is it possible that the reason I took it "easy" on Mitchell have anything to do with the fact that she is a woman? Deep in men's conscious we have this thing about taking it easy on women in certain scenarios. Who disagrees? This question rattled me a bit. In hindsight, I would have been a bit more direct about her clear immaturity. I would have even suggested that it was contradicting to say that JW was using "girl talk" as a diversionary tactic when she (Mitchell) was using the "girl talk" blog as a diversionary tactic to bring up allegations that only reflected her intentions to disrupt a conversation with no evidence. I'm still thinking about this. Experiences are so dynamic at times. I’ll let this one sizzle for minute to see what comes up. Nonetheless, if someone goes after someone in your crew with ill intentions and fluff arguments, pull out all your mental ammunition and shoot. I hope Mitchell's mind is bullet proof.

I have read the issue that has been the topic regarding "the store owner" and "girl talk" . This is what I believe to be true. Before you, JW, begin to attack an individual soley because of a word he/she chooses to use, maybe you should think about what you are really doing. First of all, words are just that....words and although, yes, words are important, it is what is in a person's heart and soul that creates intention. Intention creates energy. I know of many people who have used politically incorrect language and have had nothing but good intentions as well as respect for others. As well, I have heard politically correct language while it has been quite obvious that disrespect was being intended. I prefer, rather than to attack someone because of a word they have or have not used, to value them (or not) for the context of their dialogue as well as what I feel their intentions may be. The mind set you have used to criticize this person who used the word, girl, is the same one that causes hate and shame intended for others. Now, when are either hate or shame good things? Try looking at people with alittle compassion and instead of focusing on the words they choose, which by the way you have no right to JUDGE, focus on their energy and whether or not they are positive people who care for others! And even then....it is NOT up to you to judge them! Have YOU always been perfect? I know I havent and I don't expect the next person to be.


*** GEC, I concur with your points about politically correct/incorrect language itself being more or less problematic, dependent upon the context of the conversation. I also agree with the fact that no one is perfect, and wouldn't hesitate to own the fact that I'm at the front of the imperfect line of people hoping to fix some of those imperfections. However, almost everything else you said, or at least what you said about my engagement of the situation I don't agree with.

In your own language but with a slight tweak, you said, "Before you, [GEC], begin to attack an individual soley because of a [action] he/she [allegedly] chooses to [take], maybe you should think about what you are really doing." Did you really read what I wrote? I never attacked the husband. I asked him questions which were followed up by more probing questions that were designed to provoke him to ponder the implications of his choice of language. More precisely I said:

"while we don’t want to disparage each other for our inconsideration, we still do want to improve our environment by challenging one another to consider the consequences of those actions we exhibit that are problematic. In essence, that is what I was doing with him, trying to get him to “consider” the statements he might be making about women and the sexist world he was further adversely perpetuating for his daughter to grow up in."

Now, in what world is that an attack? I challenged him to consider the consequences of what could be "problematic actions." How is it a challenge for someone asked to consider something necessarily a judgment? All he had to do was tell me he had considered it, was considering it, or would consider it and our conversation would have been over.

You say "I prefer, rather than to attack someone because of a word they have or have not used, to value them (or not) for the context of their dialogue as well as what I feel their intentions may be."

The context of his dialogue that you suggest I value (or not) I chose not to value. I devalued his dialogue because of the fact that regardless of his intentions and his refusal to dismiss the consequences of his actions, ignoring the general oppression of women in its various forms (with language being a significant vehicle to leverage women into second class citizenship) was potentially painting him as a hypocrite. So, how did my philosophical engagement with him become me judging him? My approach was a quest for clarity. Your approach to engaging me on this topic was to judge me, prematurely. Don't you see that?

Lastly, your statement that

"The mind set you have used to criticize this person who used the word, girl, is the same one that causes hate and shame intended for others"

is quite appropriate and could be aimed right back at you. The mindset you used to criticize me wouldn't be predetermined, would it? Your response really didn't even apply to what I wrote in my blog. Now, why that would be the case I can only imagine. But let me make something clear to you and anyone/everyone reading this blog. All I did and normally do is attempt to provoke conversation, a conversation that makes people think. The fact that people would prefer to not be challenged is one thing. The fact that some Black people would prefer to not be challenged about the hypocrisy of not wanting to be called "boys," or "niggers," no matter the context, but on the other hand, while in a different situation the "intention" or "context" of those same Black people professing a perspective using language that many people might construe as misogynistic shouldn't be a problem, right? How exactly does someone rationalize these two unreconciled positions? Unfortunately, they don't.

GEC, before you chide me on "context and intention" you need to also consider the context and intention of my engagement with the husband. Until you do that, you are guilty of exactly what you accuse me. *** -- J.W.



GEC, good intentions are all fine and dandy, but if there are women out there that do not appreciate being referred to as a girl (child) then that is the bottom line. If I am not a girl and I don't wish to be called a girl, then don't call me a girl. For example, how does a man really know that a female stranger standing at a bar is cool with being called a girl, when she obviously is a woman and isn't even hearing what she is being referred to as? Who is that man to assume ( just because he is a nice guy with good intentions) that he can refer to her as a girl? A close friend of mine told me today that she once worked in a law office as an administrative assistant. She was the only woman in the office. One day she overheard her boss talking on the phone to a client. He said, "I'll send my girl over with the paperwork." She said it made her feel disrespected and devalued. First of all, she didn't belong to him and second, she wasn't a girl. Maybe he didn't mean anything by it, but it still made her feel less than and that is the concept I think Mr. Wiley was trying to get the man he spoke about to simply consider.

Here's part of the problem, some people just can't handle being challenged. They feel they are being personally attacked and criticized. Likewise people are afraid to challenge others for fear the person they are challenging will become offended. Communication is a very important part of life and with out effective open communication, we can only sit and wonder or assume that we understand each other. Come on, can we just simply talk and respect one another?

P.S. My name is Florence and people often call me Flo. I really don't like that.

There is a difference between hating the hater and just being truthful or honest. What lies ahead is a trail full of personal and factual logical rhythm that compels me to respond to this blog not only on behalf of a dear friend whose identity has been challenged, but, perhaps more importantly (if you think about the power of knowledge you can argue that the conduct of standing up for a friend is exceeded on the value scale by conduct that divulges the truth. Yet, perhaps there is truth in standing up for one's friends), to determine the truth of the matter asserted by someone whom I do not even know.

Instantly in my inquiry for the truth I come to one conclusion. There is no truth in the matter asserted by a professor who I presumed would be on the same team as Professor Wiley.

Even if you try to peg it as subjective or bias, the proof I have is powerfully connected to so many of our ideas of goodness that most would succumb to notions of morality and discredit Erin Mitchell's ugly painting. As a friend, I hope my former professor appreciates my use of the relationships in his life to logically contradict the point-blank accusation that Professor Wiley is a misogynist. I have seen this man develop relationships with more students and individuals than any other professor that I have ever come in contact with. I have come in contact with a lot in my capacity as a student. He fosters relationships with men and women alike to gives them the tools to flat out be better, to learn, to achieve and to instill as much social justice as they possibly can. I have witnessed the respect afforded to Professor Wiley by incredibly talented and gifted female students and colleagues. It is respect that is simply a natural result of the respect that I have constantly seen him afford these women of high stature. This behavior and conduct is verifiable empirically and can be confirmed by hoards of individuals who respect women and seek to destroy misogynistic behaviors and attitudes. Add these type of FACTS with the FACT that Professor Wiley spends a majority of his time working on his professorial role as a community leader and you get a clear picture of an individual opposed to misogyny on all fronts.


This proof makes it hard to view the accusations as anything but absolute slander, written words that have been viciously and ignorantly sprayed on this blog, like venom against an innocent man/woman in their quest for knowledge. This blog IS "the innocent," it represents all that constantly endure the struggle for truth, knowledge, and social justice. I look at an intense and arguably heated dialogue that unfolded between Whaler and KMP. In spite of any heat, that conversation was overflowing with provocative challenges all designed to challenge the other's understanding of knowledge. The response by Erin Mitchell was not representative of an attempt to focus in on the meaning of social justice or perpetuate productive conversation, it was just downright useless for such purpose.

I am a proud graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and as an educational institution that I love, cherish and represent every day of my life, I was frustrated and disturbed to see this reprehensible conduct by a professor at SUNY Plattsburgh. It essentially undermines the whole purpose of education. No matter what Professor Mitchell, I think you would be hard pressed to argue that you did not drop the ball and hate on knowledge and education when you started talking about the personal judgments you have against one of your professional colleagues who I believe contributes to that institutution 24/7/365. I am a malignant example of how you have discouraged free-flowing intellectual conversation. Rather than contribute to the blog topic at hand, I have had to spend time defending and vindicating a professor who provides for his young students on a real level. Let's check our heads and expend some positive energy.

As a SUNY Plattsburgh Gender and Women's Studies Scholar as well as being part of CDPI's "Crew", I think the distasteful nature of our faculty is repulsive. I am shocked; SHOCKED that someone would use a community website as an avenue to accuse JW of being a sexual predator. I've engaged topics with JW such as gender, race, sex, love, and romance, to name a few… he has never once judged or disrespected me. As a woman, I am upset. He has been one of my allies on campus, and his class guided me to choose the Gender and Women’s Studies Major. As women we should look for our allies, and although you may have a difference in opinion, pointing fingers is problematic.

To reflect on the topic, our language is influential. WORDS ARE POWERFUL. As a woman the word bitch and girl offend me, as well as the words slut, ho, whore, etc. Knowing these words are offensive we engage in conversations that examine changing the language we use. Dr. Mitchell, I’m sure you understand where I am going with this. The language you used towards a colleague of yours is unacceptable. As a student I am upset, furthermore I’ve recently talked to many students who now are so upset they are contemplating dropping your class next semester.

You are just as influential as Mr. Wiley… watch what you do with your power! If not for the sake of your reputation and his, for your students who look up to you.

In response to your response to me, I have to make clear that I was NOT judging you. Also, after reading other blogs I accept and respect that you probably do harvest many good intentions as well as relationships with your student and or friends. I, too, believe in attempting to understand others when I find their language or behavior to be offensive to myself or others. However, my point to you is....anytime you push a topic to the point of someone becoming frustrated, it will usually result in a negative experience for not only them but possibly you as well, therefore, diminishing or negating the point you are attempting to enlighten the other person with in the first place. All I am saying is that when you see someone becoming agitated with the issue you are ensuing, why not bring the energy down a notch and merely use a little compassion in attempting to further your point. Meaning, back off a bit because the person you may be dealing with may be much more willing to listen and therefore be able to understand your point if they feel they are not being pushed to the point of frustration. I am in not way assuming that you did or did not push. However, it has been my experience with others that when they begin to respond to the point where they are raising their voice, it doesn't matter whether or not I pushed them, what matters is that they FEEL threatened in some manner. Nobody learns when under the feeling of being personally attacked, whether or not it was your intention to attack or not. You seem like a person who truly cares about people and how others have the power to effect negatively or positively. I respect that. I also feel disturbed whenever I feel that a person is discrimintating against others in ANY manner. However, in my 50 years of living life, I have worked with and taught people of many diverse backgrounds as well as mental health backgrounds and I have finally and gratefully come to the realisation that it is ALWAYS much more effective when attempting to understand where a person is coming from, either with the language they choose to use, or from the behavior they choose to show, to make sure that he/she never feels pushed to the point of raising his/her voice. Once a person gets worked up to that point, your good intentions turn into a negative experience for him/her resulting in the opposite outcome you intended the conversation to begin with. This will be my last blog to you because I do not believe in beating a dead horse and also want to leave on a good note, believing that positive energy is ALWAYS superior to the alternative and I am trying to be positive here. I also was not there that evening so I do not assume to know what anyone's intentions were during that conversation. I guess it was what you chose as your words when writing how this person responded to the questions you posed to him. Funny isn't it how words do have such power to muster up so many different feeling in humans. So we must choose them wisely and carefully even when WE are irritated by how others chose to use them. Thank you for posting by comment. The best to you.

*** GEC, I think I'm fairly skilled in trying to not "push a topic to the point of someone becoming frustrated," though it can still happen. I appreciate however the time you took to ensure that I am considering how feasible my approach is. Believe me, when you are orchestrating difficult conversations (as it appears you know), many that will also feature things people don't really want to hear, it is impossible to avoid missteps. I once had one of those moments where I didn't manage my frustrations as adeptly as I would have liked and it probably cost me a client. Finding the balance between trying to push people towards action and placating their lethargy is complicated and full of its own anxieties.

I appreciate you joining this complex conversation and hope to see you participate again. *** -- J.W.

JW,

Quite coincidentally and just prior to your Blog post, I had a brief but candid conversation with two of my female colleagues about the use of the terms Girl and Kiddo. We had just wrapped up a meeting during which we needed to discuss information our Legal Council had provided us.
I had had a number of discussions with our Lawyer in recent weeks. Interestingly, these professional dialogs had taken a swift and unexpected turn. He, our lawyer, that is, started referring to me as “Kiddo” during our phone conversations. A rather distasteful and disrespectful term, I asked my colleagues: does our Lawyer refer to you so cavalierly as “Kiddo”? They both responded with a chuckle and a yes! On a more serious note, I asked do you think he’s being intentionally demeaning, or did I just get bumped into some different league, whereby use of the word Kiddo implied some sort of professional kinship or connectedness with an underlying air of superiority? I somehow doubt he calls his male friends or colleagues Kiddo. This is not the first time a man has called me Kiddo. Yet, no matter the occasion, being called Kiddo makes me shudder. I prepared my colleagues for my ensuing talk with our lawyer the next time he referred to me as Kiddo. Understanding that the term is problematic for me, I wanted them to know that I would challenge him, certainly a level of engagement he, by virtue of his professional career, is inclined to, on the subtle or not so subtle intended or implied use of the word. My purpose being, as your blog has set out to do, open his/our mind to how we use language to define people and, most critical, how those definitions can lift us up or bring us down. Perhaps his intentions were benign, perhaps not. However, I won’t know until we have that defining conversation. I will keep you posted……

Now back to the word Girl…. My co-workers and I had differing takes. Two of us use the word freely as a term of endearment and identifying unity with other female friends. My other co-worker dislikes the usage of the word altogether for profound philosophical reasons that are for her steeped in women’s struggles for respect and equality. So, I ask… how is it when we only have two ways in which to communicate with one another: the one of words the other of gestures; that we wouldn’t want to take every opportunity to understand the potential meaning of what it is we are actually saying?

Thanks, JW for the opportunity! abv

It seems as if language plays a significant role in shaping our world and the culture that we interact in. The use of the word "girl" to describe an adult woman appears to be a disrespectful contribution to the infantalization of women. However, I believe that "girl talk" hurts both sexes, and, as Via Via stated, the word "girl" may reinforce people's placement in society; but what could "girl talk" be implying about a man's role in society? If "girl talk" reinforces the perception of woman-as-children, then what assumption could be made about the man? "Girl talk" may be unconsciously keeping the man in a type of protector role. Carrie Fesette may have been thinking along these lines when she wrote, "we are perpetuating the thought that women need to be controlled, and directed by someone smarter and stronger than us…our husbands/boyfriends/lovers?" Could the male role of protector be thought of as less a demonstration of male power, but more as an obligation that may lead to a feeling of male disposibility? If the male is socialized into a protector role, then this could be preparation for male disconnection to intimacy and love in his life.

War was, potentially, the result of both sexes' fear of not surviving, and men seemed to be given the role of protectors/killers. If men were taking care of the killing, then did this allow women to be more civilized? Therefore, this could be what caused the mindset that perpetuates common sayings such as, "innocent women and children" that appear to group women and children together, which could be related back to the problem of "girl talk" and to Angel Acosta's feeling of possibly taking it "easy"on Mitchell. Also, the strength and mindset that may have been developed to protect women in one instance, may eventually develop in something that could be used against them in another instance. This seems to show how the socialized male and female gender roles can be hurtful to both sexes. Male violence against women seems, rightfully, condemned by both sexes, but male violence against men is often considered to be entertainment.

How much does the socialization of boys and girls in adolescence influence the popular usage of "girl talk?" In adolescence, it appears that girls first become subject to the "beauty contest of everyday life." The less attractive girls may feel ignored, while the more attracted girls may be treated like "genetic celebrities" and start to feel a sense of an entitlement that eventually has the chance to fade. Could the media, as Elise Rock put it, be saturating the word "girl" into fashion and entertainment, as a result of girls' early socialization and awareness of the "beauty contest?" However, this may also be where boys first experience the "success or performance contest of everyday life." In adolescence, boys could be socialized to become addicted to girls' bodies. This may also be where boys learn to perform for, pursue, and pay for the love and affection of girls. Boys may have been socialized to risk violence from other boys in order to avoid the risk of losing the love of the girls. In this case, the male on male violence/entertainment is in the form of sports such as football that are publicly funded and could result in an additional incentive of potential scholarship opportunities.

J.W. Wiley asked, "Why do men get so defensive when you point out the fact that they are hypocritically disrespecting the same women that they claim to love?"

It is possible that men may feel as if they are normally repressing their own feelings and needs in order to protect the needs of women. This all leads me to believe that the use of "girl talk" by both sexes could be contributing to the trapping of both men and women in choice-limiting and socialized gender roles.

I have read this blog a few times and have a couple of different takes on it, so in an attempt to stray from the personal life of JW and how he handles his I am going to run with the idea that the words we choose are in fact very powerful. We cannot dismiss the idea of “girl talk” simply because of the assumed intentions. My intention may be affectionate for calling my close female friend a girl, but an outside woman may hear me and interpret my use of “girl” as degrading. So while in the immediate instance it may not be detrimental, it can leave heavy impressions on those around. To stress the important of word choice we need to examine how we use words. Words function as the building blocks for verbal communication ; they affect everyone. Just because words and word choice flow without thought from person to person does not mean we should downplay their importance. Just because we eat and breathe on a routinely basis does not mean that they are not important functions; they sustain our physical well-being. Words function as a bridge which connects individual thoughts to another’s mind, effectively making them “brain food” some of which is healthy and some is poisonous. In this sense they help to sustain our psychological well-being.

In attempt to assess the importance of wordplay I think it is necessary to evaluate the flip of our word choices. Think about this, it is common for a group including both females and males to be called “guys”, and this does not offend anyone, including the women. But imagine this same group was called “girls”, wouldn’t most if not all of the “guys” in the group be offended? Why does this not apply for females? Is it because it really just is not a big deal? Or maybe men take the implication of femininity to be a threat to their masculinity? Or is it because using the word “guys” for a group of both males and females makes the females in that group invisible on the social spectrum? It certainly is not easy here to decide what is true and what is speculation. It certainly might not matter to other people if using “guys” versus “girls” has any meaning, but I do not feel comfortable with only acknowledging the makes of a group and not the females. In my eyes it is the same as issuing a verbal handshake with all of the males in the group and none of the females.

The issue of whether or not “girl” is appropriate or if “woman” is appropriate runs with the similar thoughts. Using “woman” instead of “girl” on a conscious level shows a persons effort to “get it right” similar to acknowledging everyone in a group shows an attempt to destroy the inherent invisibility that comes with being a woman. My logic runs as follows; if you call a full grown woman a girl, she may or may not get offended. If you call a girl a woman, how often will she get offended? I know growing up I always felt a level of pride when my mother or father called me a “young man”, so why do girls not deserve the same privilege. It may not matter, true, but if we make a conscious effort does that not create an atmosphere for women which will matter? To me, it makes more sense to err on the side of caution. I think it was GEC who brushed on intention and how PC terms can be used without positive intent. Well, how many people have really dissected PC terms in the first place. They have little intent in themselves. For instance, calling a black person African American. This may seem to be the correct term to use, but it makes certain assumptions, and can be problematic. For example, Blacks are not all African American , and second calling them African American puts them in an out-group from Americans. I am an American, not an Irish- American but an American. I am not a sub-group of American I am simply American. So this PC term could potentially have a negative impact on the black community. My point is that we must have the ability to question the terms we use for others. Making quick judgments and assuming terms have no influence can be a dangerous thing. True, some terms might be harmless, but we cannot know unless we properly engage and challenge those terms. If we are going to make a mistake and call someone by the wrong term, would it not be better to use the one with more implied respect, than the one which can be seen as degrading in certain situations?

Wonderful entry, that everyone should see. Thanks for this entry..

I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don't know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all. - Aesop

You are a very smart person!

I hardly write remarks, but i did some searching and wound up here Girl Talk: When, If Ever is It Appropriate? (Wiley Wandering). And I do have a couple of questions for you if it's allright. Is it only me or does it give the impression like some of these responses come across like coming from brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are posting at additional online sites, I would like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Could you list of all of your shared pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't know who you are but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if you are not already Cheers!

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