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Girl Waits with Gun
An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the...
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"Girl" versus "Woman"

Created: 05/23/16

Replies: 23

Posted May. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amberb

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 78

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"Girl" versus "Woman"

I really enjoyed this book, but it happened to hit upon a pet peeve of mine.

Much has changed since 1914, and yet, much remains the same in 2016.

In 1914, there was a newspaper headline that read "Girl waits with gun." I think that these days, headlines would read "Woman," yet many popular books these days use "Girl" in the title when the female is obviously well into adulthood. Girl on a Train. Girl in the Dark. Girl Meets God. I could go on, but it seems as though every time I'm at the library, I see a whole new crop of titles with the word "Girl."

I can't help but think that men would never be referred to as "boy" to sell books.

What do others think?


Posted May. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Nae's Gravatar
Nae

Join Date: 07/17/12

Posts: 24

RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

It is not something I ever really thought about much, but now that you bring it up ... it does make me wonder :)


Posted May. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kdowney25

Join Date: 01/25/16

Posts: 42

RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I feel the same way. It seems as if "girl" is synonymous with " female", which is surprising for the current times, considering how so many other previously acceptable words have been replaced by those that are either gender neutral or very situation-specific. If the word "boy" were in a book title, one would know that it is about a male child, not possibly a man.


Posted May. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
edie

Join Date: 04/05/12

Posts: 44

RE: Girl versus Woman

Can't say that I agree. There are too many reasons for the use of 'girl" instead of "woman" that do not infer any gender slight for me to be offended. Say the title out loud, first as written, then with Woman in lieu of Girl. The first has more punch, it trip off the tongue and suits the voice of a newspaper headline in the same way a headline might shorten a name to its briefest form "Obama Says...", not "President Barack Obama says..."

"Girl" also better suits the informal tone of the book. It is echoed in the way older women refer to their friends as "the girls." When I'm meeting former colleagues for lunch (We're all retired and well into our 70's), my husband always says, "Having fun catching up with the girls."

I'm not blind to gender issues. I just don't see this as one.


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PiperUp

Join Date: 10/27/15

Posts: 62

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I don't really see it as a slight in this instance. I feel like the sisters were rather inexperienced w/r/t the justice system & handling a gun. I saw a lot of growth on each part of the sisters by the end of the book. Perhaps the author meant it as a reflection of their inexperience?
I noticed that the next book in the series is titled "Lady Cop Makes Trouble"...so it may also be a theme she is trying to employ in the titles of the books in the series. As the series progresses maybe the noun used to identify Constance in each title will progress. If this is the intent, then it makes perfect sense to me to begin the series with 'Girl' in the title.


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amberb

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 78

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I don't have any issues with the title in this particular case - it makes sense to me, especially given that it was an actual headline! :)

I just wonder why the influx of all the titles with "Girl" lately in books based in modern times.

I loved this book & can't wait to read Lady Cop Makes Trouble!


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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RE: Girl versus Woman

As already noted, "Girl Waits With Gun" is pulled from an actual newspaper headline about Constance.
For more about this see our "beyond the book" article at
https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/btb/index.cfm/book_number/3280/girl-waits-with-gun#btb

I checked with my contact at the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who says Lady Cop Makes Trouble isn't an actual headline, but it’s meant to mimic the style of one – the way that Constance would have publicly talked about in her time.

I asked if there is a title yet for the third novel. There is not - so we will have to wait and see!

--- Davina (BB editor)


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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RE: Girl versus Woman

Amber - at the risk of taking the topic off course, I'm noticing a distinct trend, led by historical fiction books, where the title has some variation on woman as appendage to man's description - usually in the form of ... wife or ... sister.

- The Aviator's Wife
- The Railwayman's Wife
- The Headmaster's Wife
- The California Wife
- The Imperial Wife
- The Photographer's Wife

and on and on.

I understand the reason for the use of "... Wife" in the title but, it's getting a little tired!


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amberb

Join Date: 07/28/11

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I don't think it's off-topic at all!

Again - there are some cases in which the title makes sense - Girl Waits with Gun makes sense for this particular book because it was an actual headline and it also says something about the era. The Girl on the Train doesn't work for me as a title at all because there's nothing "girlish" about the novel at all, and is actually misleading because the book is very 'adult.'

The Aviator's Wife made sense as a title because it totally fit the book - Charles Lindbergh was much more famous than his wife, and I think the title is almost ironic, as the pages are so clearly filled with Anne's own story, very much setting her apart from her husband (and details what an unfaithful & difficult husband he was - yikes!). The title very much says something about the book itself. I haven't read the other "Wife" titles - do you think it's the same?

I guess this could also ask the question of the importance of 'title' in choosing what to read...


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbm

Join Date: 02/04/16

Posts: 73

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Re: Girl versus Woman

I think girl is appropriate; it was pulled from an actual headline, and it fit the era of the book. When any group goes looking for 'fight' you can find one.. but I ask, what does one gain by taking offense? Does it make one happier? I feel like it is much ado about nothing.


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amberb

Join Date: 07/28/11

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

Not a 'fight' at all - simply a topic of discussion :)

I'm certainly not 'offended' by the title - and AGAIN - it makes sense in this particular book. I simply find it inaccurate in many other books (The Girl on the Train especially) and feel that creatives could come up with much better titles.


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sharlene

Join Date: 04/10/13

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RE: Girl versus Woman

I don't have a problem with it, period. I always refer to my women friends as girlfriend and sometimes the girls. And I agree with Edie -- it makes for a much better title.


Posted May. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

Just tossing another POV into the mix I think, eponymously-speaking (I just made up that word, I think), "Girl" has a catchier ring to it than the word woman. I can't imagine Flynn's book titled "Gone Woman" capturing as much imagination as the title they chose. Likewise the other titles mentioned. From my experience in a casual setting many women prefer being thought younger, thus when my female friends have an evening on the town it's "girls' night out." But since I'm staring down the maw of 70 I never mind being referred to as a girl.

I can well understand though that a young professional woman may object and reasonably so in a work setting.


Posted May. 25, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbarac

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 8

RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

The title works for this book, to me. However, there are many times the title of a book doesn't quite fit the content. Sometimes a book appears to be a "cozy" so I won't look at it. Later I find it to be very realistic according to a friend.


Posted May. 26, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kathleenb

Join Date: 09/14/12

Posts: 72

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

Girl was appropriate for that time. I agree with you that it is not appropriate now. I had an experience that I was at work and the VP gave a talk to a small class that I was in. he dismissed the class he said goodbye men and girl. The "men" were all about 20yrs old I was a woman with two elementary school children! Hardly a girl. I said something then and there about the ridiculousness of calling me a girl. I am a senior now so that was about 35 years ago, lol.


Posted May. 26, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 130

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RE: Girl versus Woman

Fascinating how a simple word choice raises so many issues.
I think it's a perfectly valid subject for discussion, and the discussion here has certainly been respectful.

In the case of this book, using "girl" was appropriate for the various reasons suggested: it was an actual headline, and throughout the book the writer used actual news articles; it is "catchy" (alliterative with "gun"); and it captures the liveliness and humor of the book itself. It didn't bother me at all, and I am quick to react to what I perceive as sexism.

I think the use of "girl" is undergoing change in our culture, rightly so. But that doesn't have to mean that it only is used to for female children. There is the popular expression, "You go, girl!" as a mark of enthusiastic approval or admiration for something a feisty woman has said or done. An ironic tribute to female strength. In that sense, the word "girl" fits the title of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but not The Girl on the Train. Still, it doesn't bother me much, given that it's only a book title; it would be much more offensive if it was a daily practice by a contemporary newspaper or on a TV commercial, and it is always offensive in social relations. Men obviously use "boy" as an insult to other men, often in a racial context; it clearly expresses that the "boy" or "girl" is less mature, educated, of lesser stature, inferior. But there IS a very recent novel using "boy" to refer to a man, Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb (2015). The nonfiction book The Boys in the Boat is another recent example. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth... None refer to male children and none use the term as a put-down or negative. I conclude that using boy or girl in a title to refer to adults is not de facto a mark of unconscious sexism. It could be a mark of laziness or lack of originality, however.

Same with wife. Totally fits The Aviator's Wife, but too many wives in too many titles suggests too many poor marketing decisions to me.


Posted May. 26, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 60

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I'm with Edie--but then, I'm of the same vintage. I guess, having lived through some really drastic changes in the lives of women, I am pleased to see that the younger generation sees this as an issue.


Posted May. 28, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
booksnob

Join Date: 11/12/11

Posts: 31

RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

This is definitely a significant issue in publishing today. The word Girl in the title is selling a lot of books. I know Girl Waits With Gun comes from an actual newspaper headline but most of the other girl titled books do not. I think in some ways it is sexist but I also think publishers need to be more creative when titling their books. Yet they are just trying to sell books. Such an interesting issue that I'm very conscious of.


Posted May. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 99

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I don't feel there is an issue with this book title. People get hung up on petty things. If it were an employer calling his employees, "the girls", I would not like it. Loosen up a little and consider the context of the use of the word.


Posted May. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

Posts: 120

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

Marcia S, I see your point. However, there does seem to be a rash of books lately with Girl in the title. I think that as booksnob pointed out they're trying to sell books and going for titles that grab attention. This one worked! I may not have noticed a book titled Woman Waits With Gun.


Posted May. 31, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyh

Join Date: 06/25/13

Posts: 147

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I believe the use of girl in this instance is correct. Until all the books with girl were listed, I had not thought about it. I do not believe, however, that changing to woman would help. In most cases, woman does not sound right. I think you would have change the whole title.


Posted Jun. 03, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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bestmartin

Join Date: 02/20/13

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

I agree with most of the comments. I thought girl was appropriate for this book although before I read it I did have a moments pause. I'm sure that also was part of the marketing genius. I also agree that for some titles it works and others it's just a lazy choice.


Posted Jun. 05, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
theresex

Join Date: 05/21/11

Posts: 18

RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

Just from a rhythm point of view, "Girl" fits the title better. In other contexts, using "girl" can sound dismissive and it strikes a nerve. In book titles, it seems to fit because I also didn't realize so many titles had used the word "girl" rather than "woman" and yet I've heard of all the titles. I think it also goes with the times. However, when these lowlifes write their illiterate, threatening notes, using "girly" is like fingernails on a blackboard to me! But what else would we expect from these lowlife characters?


Thérèse~X.
Posted Jun. 21, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Peggy H

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 188

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RE: "Girl" versus "Woman"

Girl works for me as well. I really didn't think about it. As to using girl rather than women, I feel we refer yo ourselves using both terms depending on the events. There are women's clubs as well as statements about going out with the girls for the evening. We don't say going out with the women. I would be more concerned if the discussion were women executives and calling them girls.


Pegh

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