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Hey You Guys!

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by Lisa Johnson

about 1 year ago

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Look I have got to be honest, I cannot hear the words ‘you guys’ without hearing Sloth from The Goonies. I am a dreadful Goonies tragic and insisted that my kids watch it when they were younger…which led to some confusion at my daughter’s primary school when she entered the talent contest to do the truffle shuffle. But anyway, back to you guys. My boss and I have different views on ‘you guys’.  He agrees with David Morrison that the term is inherently gender specific and alienates those of us without male genitalia.  

Or those of us with male genitalia, but who don’t identify with the male gender.  So he doesn’t use it in his communication with us, he calls us ‘team’.  Which is right up there with being called comrade, and what could possibly be wrong with referring to a bunch of people as comrades?! So the boss is lexicon aware and avoids alienating the ‘non males’ by avoiding using the word ‘guys’. But here is the thing, I think the term ‘you guys’ is actually inclusive (and please, keep in mind this is my personal opinion).  

The term has been applied to mixed gender groups for so long, in so many mainstream environments that it’s odd to think of it only applying to blokes.  In fact, it feels weird if someone says ‘right all the guys go here and the girls go there’.  I notice it far more if someone deliberately draws attention to my gender by using terms that remove me from the group as a whole. Having said that, I am very much in favour of expanding our language to include terms that are not gender specific.  

Having spent much of this year dealing with a young person with gender identity issues, I now understand how powerful language can be to include / exclude and pigeon hole people.  So new words are definitely required. In the meantime I think I will just try and remember to call groups of people…people.  That might just work…

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