I’ve been trying to pull together these thoughts for months, but have never quite had the language to articulate it. Which is an interesting place when trying to talk about language. I have been thinking about the word “woman” as it is used to refer to everyone of my gender, even though this leaves out “girls”. There isn’t a word that describes both, and so girls become invisible: not really a part of this gender. And I wonder how that came about, and how it’s possible we don’t have the language to talk about something so basic – and such wondering, I don’t doubt, is very much tied to historical and cultural context. The usual way around this is to use “female” as a means of including both girls and women – as an adjective if we’re lucky… – the problem being that it really does not do that at all. “Female” is not a word with which all women identify, and there are people who are not women who identify with it. Of course, the idea of “femaleness” is a really problematic construction in itself and here it’s an (inadequate) biology word where we need to have a gender one. All this, I need hardly add, goes for “boys” and “men” and “maleness” too, but I’ve been thinking on girls/women/female in particular because erasure, moving into silence, is of girls and women in a way it is not for boys and men. This is such a binary-based issue, too: there is no space for conversations about, in particular, children who don’t fit into rigid notions of sex and gender and where they might fit in with this whole thing, their own particular words. The cultures in which I operate are feeling their ways along in such ways that the languages have not caught up with such needs. I am wondering about how languages other than English cater for these issues. So much to think about.