A Modern Gal


Male is to Female (Indicates Sex)
Man is to Woman (Indicates Gender)
Boy is to Girl (Indicates a young age gender)
Sir is to Ma’am (A respectful gender greeting)
Gentlemen is to Ladies (indicates gender in a fancier way)
Guy is to ____? (a casual indication of gender)

I am a female woman who was once a girl, always a lady, and sometimes referred to as ma’am by a polite shopkeeper. Yet, I’ve never really identified as a gal. It always drives me bonkers that there is no good version of the word for “guy” that applies to me.

Bad guys, good guys, nice guys, who is that guy?, guys trip, he’s one of the guys: there are so many terms that include the word guy. I wish there was an equivalent for the ladies too.

Instead, adult women sometimes get demoted to being girls: mean girls, girls trip, one of the girls, my girls.

Or, we class it up as ladies as in: ladies night, ladies choice, ladies first.

At the Korean BBQ restaurant in my neighborhood, there is a bulletin board which posts photos of the winners and losers of the KBBQ meat-eating challenge by gender. Obviously there are the winning “Guys” whose photos line the wall. Then the restaurant management was evidently so confused about what to call us women, they opted to label us “Females”. At least they didn’t try to class up a photo gallery of women with the meat-sweats as “ladies”. For the record I think Men/Women may have been the best choice for this instance.

Bros, Dudes, Men, let’s all come to an agreement that Female is not a term most women want as their label. For most of us, the follow-up question is “what species of Female”. It’s just so clinical, so scientific sounding. No one ever calls you guys Males, so go ahead and nix Female from your vocabulary.

English, and other languages too, has a gap; there is no widely accepted feminine version of guy. I can only speculate about how language evolved in this way. Long ago, did women select cute self-descriptors to be attractive to men? (Even though it is downright pervy that a man would be attracted to a “girl”). Hundreds of years ago, did men use infantilizing terms to put women in a lower place?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly sensitive to all this name calling. Still, I find it curious and maybe even amusing that I call up my girls (mid-thirties) to schedule a ladies night, while my husband  hangs out with the guys.

Chicks, babes, bitches, hens, chicas, sistas let’s unite on one thing: it’s complicated. I’ll be your bestie, your BFF, you’re rock. I’ll join you at the women’s club luncheon and help find the ladies lounge. I’ll reassure you that you are NOT OLD when someone calls you ma’am. I’ll buy you pink onesies when you’re having a girl.

I’ll do all this because it is all part of being a modern gal, even though I wouldn’t be caught dead calling myself that. Right guys?


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