Terms of reference; woman or lady

We were in a meeting at a conference in Muhanga and while joking and chatting I called a friend ‘woman’, believe me the insults I got were enough to make me run away from the scene but I had to persevere. Most females depending on their age bracket will prefer a certain term of reference to the other and if you make a mistake of referring to them in a term they don’t like, you’ll end up in a total mess.

We were in a meeting at a conference in Muhanga and while joking and chatting I called a friend ‘woman’, believe me the insults I got were enough to make me run away from the scene but I had to persevere.

Most females depending on their age bracket will prefer a certain term of reference to the other and if you make a mistake of referring to them in a term they don’t like, you’ll end up in a total mess.

The terms ‘woman’ and ‘lady’ are currently used to denote females, the usage of these terms could just be handed over from one generation to the other without an understanding of their meaning. I wonder why some females would prefer to be called women and not lady and vise versa.

Maggie Uwera, a 24-year-old Sales and Marketing Officer at S.M.S Media Cash Power, said that, “I would feel very bad if someone calls me a woman because a woman is a married female, they always say that every lady is a woman but not every woman is a lady.”
That is the degree to which it can go depending on how someone understands the terms, for Uwera, the term ‘woman’ means married females.

Kenia Umubera, a 20-year-old Customer Care executive at Skynet Rwanda, there is no problem referring to her as ‘woman’ because she will always be one.

“I’m a woman because I will always be a woman!”
The truth is what we think and imagine as a general norm could not be true, the word ‘lady’ was originally used as a euphemism in Great Britain to replace the word prostitute which was too harsh towards women. The Old English ancestor of lady was ‘hlafdige’, which came from two other words. One was hlf, meaning “loaf of bread.” The other was –‘dge’, a form of a root word meaning “to knead dough.”

But the word ‘hlafdige’ was not used in Old English for an actual bread maker. (Encyclopedia Britannica Eleventh edition)

There are various meanings to the word ‘lady’ but the common ideal is that it is used as a euphemism rather than a harsh word, but the meaning is the same.

The word “lady” is not the female version of “gentleman” anymore; it is so commonly used because society is scared of the term ‘woman’. However, ‘woman’ has no negative connotations because any female regardless of age is a woman.

iruikmo@yahoo.com

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