Why I Am A Girl (part one)

(from Kikizine #1) I don't have a problem with people who use the word woman or any of it's variations, but as far as I'm concerned, the word is girl. I agree with all the reasons for not liking the word "woman", but all the misspellings of it just look to me like...misspellings. Womyn, wimmin, wymyn, I've even seen wimmen, which makes no sense at all. I don't want to offend any girls who use these terms, but I think it just looks silly. A word spelled wrong just draws twice as much attention to itself, and I think it just defeats the whole purpose. Why alter a word that you don't like? Why not just stop using it? As Karen from Bi-Girl World wrote me once, "I like the term 'girl' because it's absolutely free of any male suffixes." You don't have to change it, just use it. I also think that there're a lot more connotations attached to the word "woman" by society. Girls can play and be tomboys and dress how they like. So I say, I'm a girl. And proud of it!

Why I Am A Girl (part two)

(from Kikizine #2) As I discussed last time, the word is girl. But I've found even more reasons since then to believe so...I looked into the origin of the word "woman" -- it originally comes from the term wifmann, meaning basically "wife/female of a human being". It slowly evolved into the words wimman, wumman, and finally woman. So even if you misspell it to remove the male pronoun, it's still a crap word. It just makes you the "wife of a myn" or something. So I looked up "female". Interestingly enough, it has nothing to do with the word "male". It was misspelled sometime between 1000 and 1500 as "female" to make it look more like the word "male", but it was originally spelled femelle, and descended from the Latin femina, or woman. This looked promising, as femina (plural feminie) is totally unrelated to the Latin words for man/male, vir, or man/human being, homo. But the probable (while hypothetical) origins of the Latin term lie in a prehistoric root (dhe) meaning "to suckle", which somehow became femina, (as well as felare, to suck; filius/filia, son/daughter; and fetus, progeny). So the implications of the word are tied up in motherhood and fertility. Keep looking. So, on to my word, girl. It comes directly from the word girle (earlier gurle) which for several centuries (until the 1500s or so) meant a young person of either gender. (It is tentatively assumed, if you want to know, to come from an older word, gyrele, which came from the prehistoric root gher, or small.) Eventually it was only applied to young females until their marriage. (At which time they got to be a woman, the "wife of a human being", oh boy!) "Girl" was originally non-gender specific, carries no history of "womanly occupations", and in fact implies not being an appendage to a man. (i.e., implies independence.) So, I still say I'm a GIRL. I guess this means someday I'll have to be an old girl, but maybe by then we'll think of something even better. And in the meantime I'll be whatever kind of girl I want to be.

UPDATES: I didn't really delve much further into this subject, but I still agree with myself here. I've heard things here and there about the words for females in other languages (for example, there was a big furor in the Japanese government a while back about the character commonly used to mean "woman", which is based on a symbol for a person sweeping. Apparently there are better alternatives they wanted people to use, but I'm sorry to say I don't remember much else about the whole thing). But while I think it'd make an interesting study to see where the origins of different cultures terms for "woman" come from, I think I'll leave that one for someone else to do.

Back to KikiZine!
Back to Zine-O-Rama!
Back to Action Girl Online!

© 1993, 1997 Sarah Dyer. All rights reserved.
No part of the contents may be reproduced without written permission.