Guys and Dolls

In the blog post that went online this morning, I wrote: “a series of wacky, unrelated crimes befall a young man and the girl he loves.” Which got me wondering, when do we stop calling people boys/guys and girls, and start calling them men and women?

Given my age and the age of my friends, this will be an interesting discussion. Back when I was 13, I read “Young Adult” literature. Only now if you called us “young adults,” we’d probably look at you like you had lobsters crawling out of your ears. The truth is that we literally are young adults, but the category just feels weird.

So here’s the question: when do we stop referring to each other as boys/guys and girls and start saying men/women? Are there criteria? Do we ever do it? Is it sexist that boys seem to become men before girls become women, or that “guys” is age-neutral? Do I even want to be a “man” when I could be a “guy” instead?

Gosh, I don’t know. Somebody comment and tell me what to think.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Guys and Dolls

  1. Steven still refers to people his own age as “kids” which always cracks me up. I feel like the word “guy” is much more age-generic than the world “girl”. I could totally find myself saying “… and there was this old guy…” just as easily as “this old man”, but I would use “old woman” or “old lady”, not girl. Man/Woman seems more formal to me than guy/lady. I think for me it’s less a matter of actual age and more a matter of 1) if I know them or 2) the setting in which I’m referring to them. If I’m explaining a Library Incident to my boss at work I’m going to go with man or woman, but if I’m just talking to my friends I’d use guy.

  2. Caitlin

    1.) I actually instinctively think of “guy” as a childish word. It would never occur to me to call a 6 yr. old male a “guy”. So I don’t feel like that word in particular is age-specific.
    2.) I agree with Patricia that it has to do with the situation, though I would stress context, in addition to formality. For example, once a female is raising kids, she’s more of a woman than a girl.
    3.) I think that in the quote you referenced from your previous blog post: “young man and the girl he loves” you are drawing from a long literary/cinematic/cultural tradition that enjoys emphasizing the youth, innocence, naivete, etc. of women in love. Not only did you (and likely Keeler) refer to her as a girl, she’s also the object of the male’s love. It’s just the way we like to talk about these things, I guess. Though…
    4.) There’s a hot topic in gender-relation studies now that emphasizes the growing level of respect/responsibility/economic force being shifted onto women’s shoulders in relation to men’s, and the impact this is having on men’s self images. The speculation is that it’s causing society to glorify or at least play with the achetype of the humorously-always-childish male (“guy”) over the unquestioned leader of state/economy/household of yesteryear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZymFMmpOa0

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