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Hello. I am a 29 year-old male and I was recently severely reprimanded by a woman due to my choice of words. I was talking about my friend and and how he was "dating this girl" that he was going to marry. The woman who heard the conversation immediately chastised me for using the word girl instead of woman. She called me sexist which is something I would never consider myself. However I'm confused. I looked up the word girl which Webster defines as "a young female." While it does also say "sometimes offensive," how can I be sure what is the "proper" usage of the word and what is likely to offend. This is particularly vexing in a world full of "Girl Power," "Grrrrls", "You go Girl!" and "Girls' night out." I respect this woman's view on the subject, but steadfastly believe I am not sexist because I referred to a young woman as a "girl" during the course of conversation. Any light you could shed on the subject would be most appreciated. Thank you, Jeff

I personally don't think there is anything wrong with what you said or using the word girl. The problem seems to be one of context. For instance, I know many gay friends who use the word queer, but if this word were used in another context it would be negative, insulting, etc... So I think that girl is similiar.

Also, you might have just got your friend in a bad mood--and therefore she misread your usage as insulting/perjorative. Who knows, maybe hearing you use it followed on the heels of someone else saying "smile honey." I think explaining that you meant no harm and that it was an informal usage should be fine. At least I hope.


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