By Dawn M. Turner
Recently CBS premiered its new drama “Supergirl.” Although the lead character is a 20-something with powers similar to those of her older cousin, Superman, there’s something about calling her a girl that rings anachronistic in my ears. Reminds me of an old rotary phone that’s not only tinny but completely out of date.
To be fair, several clips of the show portray a heroine who discovers that her voice is among her greatest super powers. I appreciate that. And when DC Comics debuted her in 1959, she was indeed a prepubescent girl.
But my qualm relates to something I’ve noticed in recent years throughout popular culture in which grown women are being called “girls” or calling themselves “girls” even when, unlike Supergirl, it’s not part of their name.
Let me be the first to admit that the “G-word,” like feminism itself, is complicated.
You see, it doesn’t bother me when women assert their need for a “girls’ night out,” or a “girls’ weekend.” Or we might say to a girlfriend, “Gurrrl, you’ve got to be kidding,” or refer to our breasts as “the girls.” And I even respect the clarion call, “You go, girl!”
These don’t bother me because they are references among women that in ways big and small feel empowering and seem to cement a sisterhood. (In fact, I wouldn’t mind if you’re reading this now and thinking: “This girl is on fire!”)
What does sour me on the word “girl” is the utterly regressive way it’s used these days by women who lead with their sexuality. The glammed up types you might see in rap videos or on fashion runways, or even television reality shows such as “Girls Gone Wild” and “The Real Housewives” franchises.
To be clear, I’m not hating on women who lead (or lean in) with their sexuality. It’s just massively wrong for them to call themselves “girls,” especially in a culture that over-sexualizes girls. It also perpetuates the idea of women as weak, one-dimensional beings.