Is The Word “Girl” Really So Offensive?

Do you find the word “girl” sexist? Honestly, you probably haven’t put too much thought into it, for good reason. Why waste time trying to find fault in a term that has rarely ever tried to belittle someone? The topic was recently brought into the spotlight after the BBC chose to edit the “g-word” out of a recent documentary that aired about the Commonwealth Games, called The Queen’s Baton Relay.

The documentary featured presenter Mark Beaumont, who was utterly shocked after he was defeated by judo champion Cynthia Rahming. The first time the program aired, Mark, who is 31, was heard saying “I am not sure I can live that down – being beaten by a 19-year-old girl.” When the documentary aired for a second time, “girl” was edited out of his comment.

Cynthia herself wasn’t offended by the comment, and didn’t seem to understand why the BBC removed the term from Mark’s statement. She won a competition since she’s an amazing athlete — why waste time on a common-day phrase? A spokesman for the BBC stated concern that others might have felt ostracized by “girl” in the context it was in, and wanted to extinguish a possible fire before it spread.

Philip Davies, who sits on the Commons culture, media and sport committee, was astounded at the fact that “girl” might offend a few viewers. “We are going to end up in a situation where nobody is going to dare say anything lest some politically correct zealot deems it offensive,” he stated.

I’ll turn the tables a little bit, since (a few) people out there understood the censorship. In certain contexts, “girl” could be seen as being a bit dismissive. I mean, when people state that people “throw like a girl”, it’s typically viewed as a negative. While feelings are rarely hurt, it’s possible that the BBC may have figured Mark’s comment stemmed from the fact that in a sports scenario, women are generally seen as being physically weaker.

There’s also the fact that in comparison to phrases like “woman”, “girl” seems a bit more juvenile. Take it from Britney Spears, circa 2001 — she’s not a girl, but not yet a woman. Sure, it seems funny to mention, but as a pop icon, our girl Britney realized that the two can be categorized quite differently. A girl might not have her priorities straight, but a woman? A woman is an adult, and can take on anything.

So now that we’ve pretty much tried to identify both sides of the coin with the decision, here are my personal opinions on the matter:


It’s absolutely amazing to be a girl, especially today. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I think that the BBC might have taken censorship a bit too far. There are terms today that are incredibly offensive based on origins that stem from hatred and our world’s constantly growing history — words that, back in the day, wouldn’t have shocked you. Today, you might have heard your grandparents uttering these terms in a public place, oblivious to the fact that they could offend someone, or make someone feel awkward and unwelcome. In fifty years, the world will change again — terms that we use freely could possibly hurt someone’s feelings in the future. But even in a billion years, I doubt that the word “girl” will ever heighten anyone’s emotions based on being inappropriate. If anything, “girl” will be even more of a complimentary phrase to describe a strong, intelligent young lady.

Readers — have you ever been in a situation where you’ve felt like “the g-word” was used in a sexist manner? We’d love to hear your feedback on the topic!

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