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Nepalese girls in the monsoon

A girl , also colloquially a girl , is a child of the female gender or (obsolete) a young female person until they marry . The word used to be short for housemaid . Biology, medicine, developmental psychology , pedagogy , cultural anthropology , social history , social science , cultural history and cultural studies deal with girls scientifically . To interdisciplinarity , the girls research effort.

Word history

The term girl as a term for “adolescent, female child, friend of a young man”, uses a diminutive suffix and is etymologically a diminutive of the medieval word maid . It was the first in the 15th century Middle Low German mēgedeken used and in the Upper East Germans Medichen early 16th century, from which Mägdchen in the 17th century and finally girl was born. Martin Luther used the terms Meidlin ( maiden ) , Jungfraw ( virgin ) and prostitute in his translation of the Bible . Until the 20th century, the term girl was often used for domestic servants or the girlfriend of a young man. In a supplement, the Duden points out: “In modern parlance, the word girl should only be used in the meaning child of the female sex. In the other outdated or outdated meanings, the term girl is increasingly seen as discriminatory. "

The word maid originated in Middle High German from mait, meit , which originally means ' virgin , unfree girl, servant' and is the contracted form of mhd. Maget , early New High German Meid ( diminutive Meidlein ). After the importance was lost in the course of the 16th century, it was revived in romantic poetry . At the beginning of the 20th century, the term was related to the students of agricultural household schools. Female members of the Reich Labor Service in the Nazi state were designated as work maids . The Duden calls its use today as “out of date, still mocking”.

In addition , girls with the diminutive suffix -el were formed based on the Upper German . In the past, the term girl was sometimes used for propaganda purposes. This is what the National Socialists called the youth organization for women, the Association of German Girls . It was therefore temporarily listed in the Unmenschen dictionary in 1957 as one of 28 expressions which, in the opinion of the authors, should be deleted from the German vocabulary because they embodied the “vocabulary of tyranny”. Its use is occasionally taken up again by today's right-wing extremist scene (see Mädelring Thuringia ), but is widespread in everyday language , often in an ironic form.

Iconography and cultural history

Judaism and Christianity

Jesus raises Jairus' daughter, a 12-year-old girl, from the dead. Colored drawing by Friedrich Overbeck (1815)

Terms associated with girls in the Old Testament include grace and beauty , jewelry , playing musical instruments and singing wedding songs, dance , virginity and courtship , but also bride robbery , rape and mourning . In the Bible, girls are not subject to any special commandments that apply only to them.

The Old Testament is rich in memorable female figures; Among them are, for example, Abraham's future daughter-in-law Rebekah , Jacob's daughter Dina , Miriam , the sister of Moses , King David's young nurse Abischag , the later Queen Esther and the lover in the Song of Solomon, sometimes referred to as Sulamith .

In Orthodox Judaism , different ritual laws apply to girls than to boys . While boys are circumcised soon after birth as part of a rite ( Brit Mila ) , the rites of the birth of a girl are usually limited to the father announcing the daughter's name at the next Torah reading in the synagogue . Since neither the Mishnah nor the Talmud contain any regulations on this question, the naming ceremony for newborn girls ( Zeved habat , Simchat bat ) is handled inconsistently within the various currents of Judaism as well as historically and regionally. Just like boys, girls in Orthodox Judaism study Jewish literature, in particular the laws that regulate the mitzvot to be fulfilled by women , e.g. B. Sabbath , Kashrut and family purity related. A rite of passage for girls, called Bat Mitzvah , corresponding to the Bar Mitzvah , only exists outside of Orthodox Judaism.

The talk about girls in the New Testament is more economical and less poetic than that of the Old Testament. The most famous figure is the Virgin Mary , a young girl at the time of the Annunciation . The New Testament also reports on Salome , the daughter of Herodias , who asks for the head of John as a reward for her dance . But girls also appear in the miracles of Jesus , including the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus , who was raised from death by Jesus , and the little daughter of a Greek woman who was driving out a demon from Jesus .

In principle, Christianity has no different rites for girls and boys. In the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches , however , some sacraments and sacramentals can only be received by men or women.

Girls in youth cultures

Emo girl

Historically, girls in Germany were only legally allowed to participate actively in youth movements such as Wandervögel , which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century , although there were reservations within the organizations. Hans Breuer , for example, called the mixed hikes softening the boys and turning the girls to ruin and feral. According to Klaus Farin , current youth cultures , which in his opinion are becoming less important in youth work , are still largely male dominated. Nevertheless, in spite of their lower number, girls also have active roles and are by no means just “followers”. He sees girl-oriented scenes in cosplay culture , for example . Angela McRobbie saw girlie culture as a girl-alone modern movement of pop culture . Jonas Engelmann , on the other hand, called emo the first youth culture in which boys would have adapted to girls.


Research on girls, a branch of women's studies , has been devoting itself to the scientific recording of the economic, political, social and cultural factors that determine the living conditions of girls since the late 20th century . The scientific and social discourse about girls was stimulated, among other things, by Elena Gianini Belotti's essay What happens to little girls? Published in Italy in 1973 .

In Germany in the 1980s there were first approaches to gender-differentiating research on girls. The expansion and increased promotion of women’s studies and projects at that time was also reflected in projects and courses specifically on work with girls at university institutions. The 6th Youth Report 1984 provided a well-founded basis with 39 expert reports on the life worlds of girls and their perspectives. The demand for targeted support for girls in all areas of youth welfare was derived from this. In 1991, the educational and social scientist Claudia Franziska Bruner published an initial overview of the results of young girls research . A review article by Helga Kelle followed in 2008.

In the United States , where study and research centers for Girls' Studies, etc. a. at the University of Missouri – Kansas City , the State University of New York in Cortland and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , Elline Lipkin (then UC Berkeley ) published her review volume Girls' Studies: Seal Studies in 2006 .

See also

Commons : girls  - collection of images
Wikiquote: Girls  - Quotes
Wiktionary: girls  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Lara Cardella : I wanted pants. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-596-10185-9 .
  • Marlis Hellinger: Contrastive Feminist Linguistics. Mechanisms of Linguistic Discrimination in English and German . Verlag MaxHuebner, Ismaning 1999, ISBN 3-19-006605-1 .
  • Norbert Kühne : Girls and Boys - Development, Upbringing, Identity; in: Praxisbuch Sozialpädagogik, Bildungsverlag EINS, Troisdorf 2010, ISBN 978-3-427-75416-9 .
  • Meike Lauggas: Girls' education educates girls. A history of the concept and constructions . Milena-Verlag, Vienna 2000, ISBN 3-85286-075-X (Feminist theory; 40).
  • Ingeborg Weber-Kellermann : Childhood. Clothing and living, work and play. A cultural story. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-458-05095-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c overview of meanings in, accessed on November 12, 2016.
  2. a b girls , DWDS accessed on December 2, 2016
  3. Maid in DWDS , accessed on November 3, 2016.
  4. Maid in, accessed on November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Etymological dictionary of German according to Pfeifer, online at DWDS , accessed on November 23, 2011.
  6. Nazi words in parlance: Girl obliges , sü of July 25, 2008.
  7. Mädel in, accessed on November 23, 2011.
  8. Ester 2.3ff ; Amos 8.13 ; Zechariah 9.17
  9. Jeremiah 2.32
  10. Psalm 68.26 ; Psalm 78.63
  11. Judges 21.21ff ; Jeremiah 31.13
  12. Numbers 31:35 ; Judges 12/21 ; Ezekiel 44.22
  13. Genesis 24:55 ; Genesis 34.4 ; Ester 2.4 ; Isaiah 62.5
  14. Judges 21:21 ; Judges 5.30 ; 2. Kings 5.2
  15. Deuteronomy 22:28 ; Lamentations 5.11
  16. Lamentations 2.10ff
  17. Genesis 24.15ff
  18. Genesis 34.1ff
  19. Exodus 2.4ff
  20. 1 Kings 1.3ff
  21. Song of Songs 8.13
  22. Welcoming all of our children (PDF; 2.7 MB)
  23. Do women study Torah?
  24. What Is a Bat Mitzvah?
  25. Mark 6.22ff ; Matthew 14.6ff
  26. Matthew 9.18ff ; Mark 5.35ff ; Luke 8.41ff
  27. Mark 7.25ff
  28. ^ Wilfried Ferchhoff: Youth at the turn of the 20th century: Lebensformen und Lebensstile Springer-Verlag 2013, p. 21; online in google books
  29. Gender-specific aspects in youth cultures - girls and boys in their peer groups ( memento of the original dated December 9, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ; Interview with Klaus Farin, Archiv der Jugendkulturen eV @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  30. Angela McRobbie: Muscle Packs and Tails. The importance of the girlie culture . In: Anette Baldauf, Katharina Weingartner (Eds.): Lips Tits Hips Power? Pop culture and feminism . Folio, Vienna, Bozen, ISBN 3-85256-077-2 , pp. 278 .
  31. Carola Padtberg: Youth Culture Emo - discover the girl in you from March 11, 2010, accessed on November 25, 2011 at Spiegel online
  32. Margitta Kunert-Zier: Education of the sexes: developments, concepts and gender competence in socio-educational fields. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2005, ISBN 3-531-14657-2 , p. 28.
  33. ^ Margitta Kunert-Zier: Education of the sexes - developments, concepts and gender competence in socio-educational fields.  : The eighties - making girls work visible, Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2005, ISBN 3-531-14657-2 , p. 30ff.
  34. ^ Claudia Franziska Bruner: Girls Research in the Federal Republic of Germany: a literature documentation. Weinheim, Munich: DJI Verlag, 1991, ISBN 3-87966-327-0 .
  35. Helga Kelle: Girls: To the development of girl research. In: Ruth Becker, Beate Kortendiek (Hrsg.): Handbook women and gender research: Theory, methods, empiricism , Wiesbaden: Springer, 3rd edition 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-17170-8 , pp. 418-427.
  36. Women's & Gender Studies: Certificate in Girls's Studies
  37. ^ Reimagining Girlhood: Communities, Identities, Self-Portrayals.
  38. Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, Assistant Professor
  39. Elline Lipkin ( Memento of the original from December 24, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /