The trouble with using the word “girlfriend”

Hey guys!

So this post is a bit different than my other posts. Rather than talking about my life, books or beauty, I wanted to take the time to talk about something that has annoyed me for years and that is: women who identify as straight using the term “girlfriend” when referring to a female friend.

I was driving home and listening to the radio when a female radio host began talking about going out with her “girlfriend” to a new bar. The main issue here is that she didn’t mean a “girlfriend” as a woman she’s dating, she meant it as a female friend.

Why is this a problem, you ask?

Well, first off, why do women use the term “girlfriend” when referring to a female friend? I mean, men don’t call their male friends “boyfriends.” Maybe that does sound silly, but isn’t it true when you really think about it?

It’s especially frustrating when you identify as a lesbian and actually have a girlfriend. So when you refer to your significant other as your girlfriend, it makes it extremely awkward when you then have to qualify that statement. Living as an openly gay woman, the process of coming out doesn’t happen just once, it’s an everyday occurrence. When I meet someone for the first time and the topic of significant others comes up, I have to come out, which is not always easy because you never know how someone will react. There have been times when it’s treated as nothing unusual and there have been times when I’ve basically been made to feel like a second class citizen.

My point here is that coming out on a daily basis becomes so much harder when you not only need to come out once, but essentially come out again.

For example, two years ago Em and I attended a wedding together and happened to be talking to a male in attendance (a close friend of the couple). He was very clearly flirting with Em and then the conversation took a tun and went a little something like this:
Guy: “So how do you two know each other?”
Me: “Well, I’m her girlfriend” (while pointing at Em).
Guy: “Oh? Friends?”
Me: “No, girlfriends as in we’re dating.”
Guy: “Ohhh … ok.”

You might be thinking that we could have just answered him and said “yes, we’re friends” instead of qualifying the statement girlfriend. But why should we hide who we are and why should Em be made to feel uncomfortable or get unwanted attention from a man when she doesn’t want it?

In a nutshell, that’s the problem with women who identify as straight using the term “girlfriend” so casually.


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