I began to notice the proliferation of the word girl in the titles of books a few years ago. It might have started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and then went on to Gone Girl and the immensely popular book and movie, Girl on a Train. Now, in a recent search on Amazon, I came up with a long list of books with the word girl on the cover. Here are just a few: The Girl Who Lied; Girl on a Wire; Girl in Disguise; Girl in the Glass; The House Girl; The Girl Before; The Girl in the Ice; The Girl in the Garden; Bond Girl; Geek Girls Unite; Girl Undone; Girl Unbroken. Hardly a day goes by that the emails I receive informing me of new releases or books on sale doesn’t have at least one title with Girl-something in it. It makes you wonder, are authors purposely writing books that can easily use girl in the title?
Having also grown up in the era of the women’s liberation movement, I remember when the moniker girl was frowned upon and even considered a sexist way of referring to someone of the female gender. No one wanted to be called a girl! It was I am woman, hear me roar, or it was nothing. So when did girl once again become acceptable? Maybe when women figured out it was okay to say the word girlfriend? Because who wanted to say “my lady or my women friends” when that made us sound…hmmm… older?
The truth is most of us don’t mind another female calling us girls, but it can still be considered a putdown when a man refers to “the girls in the office,” or “all the girls I’ve known before.” How girl became popular in book titles is a mystery, except that I’m sure it has something to do with another familiar word, especially in the publishing world, Marketing. Because if one book with girl in the title sold, why wouldn’t 25? It’s an interesting concept, writing a book around a title, and I wonder how many bestsellers actually started out as just a title? Did Margaret Mitchell think of Gone with the Wind and then write the book? (Actually, I think I remember reading that she wanted to call it Tomorrow is Another Day.) If it were published today, maybe it would be called Girl of Atlanta or Scarlet Girl. And just how many titles can they continue to come up with that include girl? I guess as many as will continue to sell. There is even an HBO TV series called simply Girls that has a big following.
In a way, it’s kind of nice that girl has been elevated to book title status and is no longer thought of as derogatory or even an outright dirty word. Nice that more main characters in books and leading roles in movies and TV are female. Because, seriously, the older you get you start not to mind being called a girl.