Tag Archives: gender construction

Saying: We’re All Girls Here


“We’re all girls here”


The informant recounts that her old synchronized swim teacher would say this saying in response to young girls being afraid to change or be naked in the locker room. The intention as the informant remembers was to create a sense of solidarity and safety among the girls and to tell them that it was safe and not taboo to be naked in this space.

The informant also notes that she has brought this saying up with her boyfriend who has played football (and therefore, presumably been in many a men’s locker room). He was unfamiliar with the saying and did not recount a male equivalent to the phrase.


To me, this saying is an example of teaching or imposing gender on children. This phrase indicates a need to remind children of the gender systems around them. When children are young they are generally unaware of gender. when they go to school and exit their homes later in life they are introduced to gender and what that means for their lives. This saying informs young girls that around other girls and women it is safe and acceptable to be naked and show taboo body parts like genitals and secondary sexual characteristics. It also subtly indicates that it is unsafe or unacceptable to be naked around boys and men.

The fact that there was not a clear or memorable male equivalent saying indicates to me that boys and men are not held to the same standard of concealing their bodies. Nor are they taught of exposure being something dangerous.

A photo of hourglass-shaped high-trasmission towers carrying electrical wires across a landscape.

“The Betties” — Transmission Towers


“Betty” or “The Betties” (plural) as a slang term to refer to high-power transmission towers (450 to 735 kV).


JH is a 53 year-old woman from Erie, Pennsylvania. She grew up on the rural edges of an industrial city. The high-tension wires from the towers went over the property of her childhood home, and there was a power station nearby.

“The Betties were along the highway, not far from where we lived,” JH said. “They were the shape of a woman. They were wider at the top, like an hourglass. My dad called them Betties.”

JH said she always understood, even as a child, that they were called Betties because of their shape. “We would drive down the road, and I would think that [the towers] looked like my dolls, like a dolls’ dress,” she said. “I learned later that Betty is slang for a hot woman.”

“That’s Californian surfer talk,” her husband, KH, interjects. “My understanding is that the origin was from the Flintstones. Betty Rubble was the attractive wife.”


This single slang word for an inanimate object communicates a lot about the construction of gendered aesthetics and the social ideal of a woman’s body type. The expectation that women have an hourglass-shaped body — along with the assumption that such a shape is natural — has contributed to body dysmorphia and the proliferation of voluntary or involuntary body modifications for women, from corsets to BBLs. These constrictions support patriarchal oppression of women by constricting their movement. Additionally, body dysmorphia is linked to increased instances of mental illness. 

I also find it interesting that this term was taught to JH by her father. The role that girls’ own fathers play in their gender construction is significant and markedly different from their mothers’. JH’s experience implies that fathers may be complicit in the objectification of their own daughters through the seemingly unrelated objectification of an inanimate object.

Again, the fact that so much can be contained in a single word referring to an inanimate object speaks to the pervasiveness of gender constructs. The objectification that this enacts uniquely upon women is proved by the lack of a male nickname for transmission towers of lower voltage, which take on a capital t shape. A connection could be made to men’s broad shoulders (again, a cultural construct and not an innate physical quality) but no such slang term appears. If such a term does exist, further study could examine the ‘equal’ objectification of male and female body types.