Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I'm Not A Guy

Hey there! How are you gu--wait a second. 

Do you identify as male? Does EVERYONE who will read this post identify as male? I didn't think so. You are not all guys. But chances are, if I'd said, "Hey, guys," no one would have batted an eye.

My question for you all is, why is this? In our society (I'm talking about America, here, but I think it happens elsewhere, as well), we address a group of people as "guys" even when the group is all female, or a mix of female and male.

It may not seem strange to you that we speak this way, but that's because this is how we've been conditioned to speak. People rarely stop to wonder why we use male pronouns when talking about a group of women or girls. To tell your female friends, "Hurry up, guys!" or "Let's go, you guys," is not out of the ordinary in this society.

Picture this: what if your teacher came into class one day, turned to face the students, and declared, "All right, girls, today we're going to be learning about DNA." The students would laugh uncertainly. They would give each other weird looks. They might even think the teacher was using the term girls as an insult--kind of like the common expression, "You throw like a girl."*

So why, when we use "guys" to talk about a mixed gender group, do we pass it off as perfectly acceptable?

There are plenty of other terms we could use instead. A group of only females can be addressed as girls/women, gals, or ladies, or any un-gendered possibilites, such as: everyone, y'all, people, folks, all, or everybody. Those last ones can be used to address a mix of genders. This new way of talking might throw you at first, but in time you'll settle in.

I'll admit, it's a hard habit to break. I still say "guys" frequently. But I try to catch myself, and in time hopefully I can train myself and others to be more conscientious of our language.

This may not seem like such an important step in creating a gender-equal world. Certainly, there are bigger things to worry about, but we have to think about the small things, too. And, being the next generation, if we can fix our language, it can give us a little boost that can help fix the larger problems at hand.

Think about it, people.

*Obviously, this expression is dumb and stereotypical. Being a girl has nothing to do with athletic ability, and is in no way an insult. See a cool commercial about this here.

7 comments:

  1. I say y'all probably more than I say guys, although I do admit I say it. I'm certainly going to try to fully stop though. It's funny what society is conditioned to.
    I saw that commercial a little while back and I'm glad you posted about it. It's such a great message. ^-^
    ~Adi

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    1. Glad you understand, and that you're trying to be a part of the solution :)

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  2. I loved that commercial. I seriously played it back about thirty times. You've actually raised a valid point here. A point I didn't really pay attention to prior.I do often use guys and I hadn't seen any issues with it but now thinking about it, you're right. I suppose we have been conditioned to think of it as normal. Great post.

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    1. Most people don't think about it when they use "guys" in the wrong context. I'm glad I could bring this issue to light for you.

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  3. Oh. I never really gave much thought to the term 'guys' when addressing a group of mixed genders. This has DEFINITELY given me something to think about....

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    1. It's certainly something to think on. Happy to know I've changed your perception :)

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  4. After reading this post I paid more attention to how I adress groups of people and noticed something curious: when I speak English, I say 'guys', but when I speak Dutch I always say 'people'. I never knew I did that until I read this post and started thinking about it. I think I'm going to use 'people' in English now too. To me it just sounds better to say 'people' :)

    x Envy
    Picking up the Pieces

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