I’m a woman, not a girl!

Becky Mollenkamp
4 min readAug 17

A rant about the girl boss movement

I spent this morning catching up on newsletters from the last few days. Over and over and over again, I saw the word girl being used to describe things related to women.

  • The Newsette told me about the latest fitness fad: “Hot girl rollerblading”.” It also shared a travel story that said, “whether you’re a tent girly or a cabin cutie…”
  • The Skimm and CNBC told me about how some women are using “girl math” to justify luxury purchases.
  • All summer I’ve been hearing about “girl dinner” — the trend of women eating snacks as a meal — even from The New York Times.
  • The best, though, was Girlboss Daily unironically sharing that “‘Cute’ catchphrases for working women are just sexist, actually.”

I could go on and on… and I did, in fact, when I greeted my friend for lunch not with a “hello” but with a 5-minute rant about how I am, in fact, a woman and not a girl.

People can use whatever term they prefer to describe themselves. I also understand the desire to “reclaim” certain monikers that have previously been wielded like weapons against women (I’m a fan of bitch for this reason). And still…

The pervasive use of girl as a substitute for woman, particularly in the professional realm, is problematic.

A graphic image of a woman’s body over a blue background

Girls are children.
They’re humans deserving of the respect due all humans, and they’re immature. They don’t have fully developed brains, and need help understanding and navigating the world. They’re dependent on others for financial, emotional, and physical support.

Women are adults.
They’re mature, experienced, and knowledgable. They have the executive reasoning necessary to draw their own conclusions and make informed choices. They’re autonomous, and able to care for their own needs.

Equating these two groups is sexist.

Our culture is uncomfortable with the word woman, and that’s because we are made to feel uncomfortable. In making the word woman feel dowdy, old, or otherwise “less than” helps to reinforce and protect sexist patriarchal norms.

Becky Mollenkamp

Accountability coach for feminist founders.