A few months ago, I was on a QI marathon, and amidst insane amounts of laughter, I learnt a couple of things that piqued my curiosity. I just had to find out for myself whether these were true facts or not.
Series G Episode 7 - Girls & Boys
For about two hundred years after it arrived in the language in the thirteenth century girl was indeed a general term for any young person. If a writer wanted to make clear the sex of the person, he had to add a qualifier: knave girl for a boy, and gay girl for a young woman. But by the sixteenth century the word had shifted to our modern sense.
Which reminds me - all foetuses are 'females' prior to the male genitalia developing. OK, any males reading this right now, don't worry - I'm not trying to undermine your virility. Not much, anyway. But yes, it is scientifically correct.
On the subject of boys' vs girls' stereotypes, up until the 1940s, the colour for baby boys was pink, and the colour for baby girls was blue. It seems like it was thought that Pink is a toned-down version of Red which is considered to be a strong, masculine colour, whereas Blue was thought to be a milder version of Purple which is a more gentle, feminine colour. You can clicky here, here and here for more details.
Such a pretty... err... boy.
Yes. The above photo is that of a boy called Franklin Roosevelt. No, it wasn't a case of his mother trying to "turn him gay" or anything. It was actually standard procedure to dress boys up to the age of 6 or 7 years of age in a sort of dress. They also didn't get their first haircut until that age was reached.
This means that boys born around 1884 spent the first 6 or 7 years of their lives possibly being dressed up in pink dresses. Thank your lucky stars you weren't.