Before you continue reading, please first read, if you haven't yet, this week's 'Life in the slow lane' by columnist Cliff Büchler.
In his column he takes on women who object to being referred to as girls. Irrespective of whether you agree with him or not, please come back and read this "girl's" take on the matter.
Cliff ends his column asking: "OK with you, girl?" and just that one sentence made me decide to take up my pen. No, it is not OK. It is patronising. Although Cliff affects to seek approval from women with this question, his use of the word "girl' confirms that he actually does not give a damn what women may think or want, as he WILL continue to call you a girl - whether you like it or not.
And that is the whole point. It is perpetuation and confirmation of the worldwide patriarchal system. On the surface it may seem perfectly innocent and harmless when a man calls you, 'my girl', but underneath the veneer boils millennia of suppression and condescension.
In many households the woman is the strong one who keeps things together, but in spite of this, most of these strong women have to put up a show as the adoring, dependent 'wifey' to keep the pretense of the strong man alive, lest her husband's ego takes a beating.
I realise and understand there are many of you - both male and female - who think that making an issue about something as trifling as a tiny four letter word is taking feminism too far, but if you really think about the long-term effect of language on the psyche, you will start to see how easy it is to brainwash whole generations in a subtle way just through using terminology.
When children - especially boys - get emotional for some or other reason, grown-ups will often say "Don't act like a girl", or in Afrikaans "Moenie 'n sissie wees nie". Equating being a young female with weakness (in a negative way) is so ingrained in our society that young boys turn into men who continue to see their female counterparts as slightly inferior. That is also why they are embarrassed by emotions, because it's a "female thing" and they consider it an insult to exhibit any female characteristics.
In the apartheid days many whites thought it acceptable to refer to their adult male gardener as 'the garden boy' and to the domestic worker as 'the girl', even though these workers were toiling away in order to take care of their own children and even great-grandchildren!
To refer to an adult person as a child subtly disempowers the individual as the inference is that you can't make decisions for yourself. Women usually don't find it offensive when other women call them girls - as in a girls' night out - but maybe we should stop doing that and lead by example.
Patriarchy and its negative effects on society - the damage it does to women and children as well as men - is illustrated in razor sharp fashion in the latest Sophia Kapp novel, Kantelpunt.
This incredibly entertaining, but hard-hitting novel, is described as a "feminist novel for conventional women". I would describe it as "a must-read for all men and women". Your copy is waiting on my desk, Cliff.
Regards, Commandant Ilse
Posted on: 11:38 Thu, 14 February 2019
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