It’s time we stopped calling women ‘girls’
Are tapioca pearls really worth threatening lives for?
This was one of many questions that have struck me surrounding the latest pandemic controversy.
I can't understand why so many covid-spreaders duck out for bubble tea? Does anyone under 25 not look like Kylie Jenner? And why are we calling adult women "girls"?
For out of all the drama over rightfully naming Diana Lasu, 21, Olivia Muranga, 19, and Haja Timbo, 21, who last week were charged in relation to a COVID-19 outbreak in southeast Queensland, it was the hysterical cries that they are only "girls" that was the hardest pill to swallow.
After hosting a drunken party in their Airbnb in covid hotspot Melbourne, the trio returned to Brisbane through Sydney and allegedly lied about their movements.
They continued to shop, work and socialise, despite Muranga suffering coronavirus symptoms so severe she "couldn't even breathe out of her airways", her brother Eddie told ACA.
Even after getting tested, Muranga stopped by a South Bank bar for cocktails.
The entitlement is beyond staggering.
But after testing positive, one woman is accused of spending two days refusing to tell authorities her movements.
When minutes matter in this severely infectious virus, it was yet another selfish slap in the face of every compassionate and concerned citizen who has made sacrifices to contain the spread of this disease.
And now we are witnessing the fallout of this brazen behaviour: a Brisbane nursing home staff member has tested positive.
Any smug confidence over Queensland's near-eradication of covid is gone, replaced by a resigned acceptance that if this cluster grows, another lockdown may be a necessary impending reality and innocent people could die.
But, shout the virtue signallers, don't name these poor "girls".
"Absolutely bullshit that these poor girls are being vilified and attacked and now there are reports they are in prison. Who will take responsibility if these girls die? This is disgusting misogynistic lynching," one person said on Twitter.
Another added that the "two young girls" had been unfairly targeted.
"These girls are young, not rich- so its ok to name them# one rule for the rich!" another claimed.
The women are in a stable condition in hospital under police guard. Their families are being kept in hotel quarantine - paid for by taxpayers.
The three women have been charged with breaching the Public Health Act by allegedly providing false or misleading documents, as well as the more serious charge of fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment if proven.
They will front court in September where they will again be named as defendants in what will be publicly available information.
But what the supposed civil rights defenders on social media don't seem to understand is that by claiming that these "girls" have been subject to unfair attention, they disempower and infantilise them, denying their right to be treated as independent adults.
The word "girl" implies they are vulnerable, diminutive and delicate.
A 19-year-old and two 21-year-olds are not children. They are independent adults, responsible for their actions.
You are a woman when you have graduated high school and can drive, vote, drink and get cosmetic enhancements.
We sent men younger than these women to war.
Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he created Facebook. Joan of Arc was 19 when she was burned at the stake. Mary Shelley was 18 when she first wrote Frankenstein. Qamar Gul, who gunned down Taliban insurgents who murdered her parents in Afghanistan earlier this month is only 16.
When we brush off women as girls, it's demeaning and condescending.
It's also kind of creepy (just watch Netflix's 365 Days and its skin-crawling line "Are you lost baby girl?").
By assuming that you're defending a woman by saying she is "just a girl", is making out that she is incapable of grasping the implications of her actions.
And that has always been my main fear about the virus. Not that we won't get a vaccine in time or that our hospitals won't be able to cope.
It is that in this age of individualistic entitlement, self-indulgent creatures feel they are too special to follow orders. That a bubble tea is more important than public safety.
Pandering to this behaviour by justifying that adults can act like children will only make it worse.
Originally published as It's time we stopped calling women 'girls'