A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.

Coco Chanel

Ring from Mum, bracelet and earring from The Girls
Ring from Mum, bracelet and earrings from The Girls

My four sisters, my brother and I were all born over a period of eight and a half years in the sixties and early seventies. I won’t piss off my beloved siblings by detailing our ages here but you can do the maths on how old that makes us all now.

The six of us talk to and about each other often. (We’re scattered around the globe but they are still – and I expect will always be – my touchstones, my base, my home.) When the rest of us are talking about our beautiful brother we refer to him by name. (His name, incidentally, starts with G, so a big up to my brother in this 26-day Vagina Monologues blog-fest which by definition rather excludes him.) But when the sisters refer to each other en masse we need a collective noun. And the noun that’s come into most common usage is girls. “Did you hear from the girls for your birthday?” “I’m wearing all my favourite jewellery from the girls.” “I’m going to see the girls when I get back to Australia!”

Girls. Hm. My BFF’s three beautiful daughters are not yet ten but we refer to them as the girls. My book club and Vagina Warrior friends are in their twenties and thirties and they’re the girls. My photography club friends are in their forties and fifties and guess how I think of them? Yep, you got it. The girls. Is this weird? Do we need different collective nouns to reflect our ages?

It’s been a number of years since the word guys also snuck into my vernacular to call the attention of a group of people. “Come on, guys! Let’s get going!” This, I’ve noticed, is increasingly used, by me and others, when the group of people is all women, and I’m quite comfortable with that – guys is so much cooler a word than anything we women have to refer to ourselves and each other. “Come on, women!” Sounds weird. “Come on, ladies!” Acceptable but a whole different set of implications.

I’ve just looked up guy on urbandictionary.com. (Why do I do this to myself?):

1: one who has a sexual thought every ten seconds
2: used for a normal/bloke-ish kind of boy
3: one who says that he will call you and then never does, but makes up an excuse for why he didn’t
4: Rulers of the world. The male population. The bosses of society. *

(OK, I’m now applying a blanket ban on the use of urbandictionary.com for this blog.)

What about the Oxford Dictionary? Ah, much more inclusive. It defines guys as “people of either sex”, as in, “You guys want some coffee?”

I really have no conclusion for this post but I am curious about what other people think…

So ladies and gentlemen, guys and girls, lads and ladettes, men and women, what should it be? Are we all happy for women to be referred to as girls from cradle to grave or does it rankle with you? All alternatives welcome!

* Bless them. They clearly don’t believe this for a second.

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