I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write, or even anything I write. You are entitled to believe me petty, immature, misinformed, foolish, and any manner of other things that I frankly strive not to be. But I’m not going to leave comments to that effect on my blog. The opinions expressed here are mine and divergent ones are allowed…but mean or disrespectful comments will be deleted. Even if I made them…maybe especially if I made them. To that point, if you are female and don’t mind being called a girl, that’s cool…for you. It hit me wrong the other day, and no amount of aforementioned stewing changed that for me. This is not a moral issue – of that I am well aware – it is a preference issue, and I explained the reason for my preferences to the best of my ability. If that makes me an immature brat, so be it. Maybe I’ll grow out of someday.
But as for the idea that offending someone, especially when the offense was innocently and unintentionally offered, being the offendee’s problem: I’m not sure I agree. I hate accidentally hurting people, but I know that I do it. It most often happens because I say too much. Looking for the right words means going through many of the wrong ones first. My instinctive reaction is to lash out at the one I’ve offended, presumably in an innate “the best defense is a strong offense” sort of way. I didn’t intend to hurt anyone, so I am angry at them for having the temerity to be offended…. But why am I so bothered by the need to guard what I say (or write, for that matter)? If you can forgive me when I say things that bother you, I can strive not to do it. Why is that so hard? Why is loving people in a way that is meaningful to them, even when it is foreign to me, offensive? Why would my desire to share a way in which people could love me better be offensive to others? Why is it offensive to learn that I don’t like to be equated a child? Or that a word means something to me that it doesn’t mean to you? I call myself a bitch when I am one. That seems much more likely to offend….
So. To be clear: I am not angry at anyone. The overheard comment was not aimed at me specifically, but was used to make a statistical observation. The population in general was adult, not juvenile. The males were referred to as “guys,” not “boys.” Our word usage is often based on cultural context – there is something in mine that makes “girl” mean – at least in part – young, inexperienced, or innocent. I’m not those things. Sorry. In my cultural context, there is no equivalent word for “females of indeterminate age.” My preference, when it is clear that children are not being referred to, is to default to “women” instead of “girls.” Preference. That is all.
This has nothing to do with some sort of life-experience pissing contest. I am no better (or worse) a person because of the situations that I have experienced, nor will the fullness of years that God sees fit to grant me change my innate value. It follows that no person, young or old, can be thus judged. We are all younger than some and older than others – “I am older than I once was/And younger than I’ll be/That’s not unusual…” (thank you Paul Simon). We all still have real feelings, real opinions, real beliefs and are still worthy of respect. Even when others disagree with us. This isn’t, for me, about measuring my…maturity…it is about sharing myself.