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Changing “Man” to “Boy” in Famous Works


I understand it’s a tradition to call grown women “Girls.” You probably don’t even notice doing it. It needs to stop.

Grown adult women with sexual lives and jobs and families are referred to as “girls,” much like grown adult black men were called “boys” before The Black Civil Rights movement. Calling a black man “boy” is not acceptable. And calling women “girls” is as anachronistic.

Here’s a recent example of calling a woman a girl, coming from a site one would think is up with the times:

A girl obsessed with sloths gets surprised with a sloth (– a Buzzfeed staffer, 20-30-something aged woman).

Here are some real literary titles with “Girl” in the title, when in fact the “girl” is a fully grown, sexually active female human:

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson
  • Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  • Shopgirl – Steve Martin
  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  • Girl with the Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
  • The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillippa Gregory
  • The Girl with the Golden Eyes – Honoré de Balzac
  • A Girl in Winter – Philip Larkin

Here’s a list with more books with “girl” in the title. Some of the characters referred to are actual minors: 

250+ Books with “Girl” in the title on Goodreads/Listopia

And movies? Forget it. We don’t get “girl” much, let alone “woman.” Hollywood is pretty much a man’s world.  A list of movies with Man vs. Woman vs. Wife in the titles and their frequency each year.



Let’s change “man” or “men” in some famous titles to “boy” or “boys,” to demonstrate the absurdity of calling women girls (And just for fun, let’s change the authors’ names to diminutives, as if they, too, were still boys).

Works of Art

What if all the men pictured in famous artworks were referred to as boys? What would the art mean? 

Here’s a Photographer who has down syndrome children model in recreations of famous works of art.

The Son of Boy by Ren-nay-nay Magritte


Here’s a Photographer featured in WomensDay who recreates famous paintings with her kids:

Seated Boy with a Cane by Ammy Modigliani

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 7.29.11 PM

Bust of an Old Boy Wearing a Fur Cap by Remmy (Rembrandt) van Rijn

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 7.30.05 PM


The Invisible Boy – Ralphie Ellison


The Old Boy and the Sea – Ernie Hemingway


Of Mice and Boys -Johnny Steinbeck


A Boy for All Seasons – Bobby Bolt

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boy – Jimmy Joyce

Boy’s Search for Meaning – Vickie E. Frankl

The Thin Boy – Dashee Hammett

The Boy Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Ollie Sacks

The Illustrated Boy – Ray-Ray Bradbury

The Bicentennial Boy and Other Stories – Izzy Asimov

All The President’s Boys – Car-Car Bernstein

The Third Boy – Grahammy Greene


The titles all sound strange, don’t they? Especially when you know the characters in the book are grown men. It’s as if they cover totally different subjects.



So. It may take a few days to get used to, but can we please say what we mean?

A baby girl: 0-2 years old

A small girl: 2-9 years old

A tween girl: 9-12 years old

A teen girl: 13-17 years old

A young woman: 18-24 years old

A woman: 24 years old until death.

No girls allowed. Thank you.



Book Covers (edited by Christine Cavalier) all found on Wikipedia, Fair use commons