We hear it said all the time, so much so that it’s practically ingrained in us. That “it” to which I’m referring is saying “guys.” It appears that it doesn’t matter what gender your audience is, what age your audience is or the setting you’re in.
I found the remarks of Alice Walker, author and activist, to be extremely poignant. Ms. Walker states that using “guys” is a fear of being feminine. She explains that when women refer to themselves and other women as guys, it’s dangerous. Ms. Walker goes on to say that when women use this term it’s like erasing yourself daily, minute by minute. With this type of strong programming, changing our language is difficult.
When we say “guys,” we’re not being inclusive, far from it. Without realizing it, we’re discriminating or being sexist. As a result, someone may feel excluded or left out. Of course, that’s less than optimal for a number of reasons.
At a recent conference I attended there were only two men in the audience. The majority of attendees were women. The speakers were all women and each of them greeted the attendees as “guys.” Big risk to take since we don’t know who may be offended by this choice of terminology, be they male, female, or non-binary.
We know there are multiple alternatives to saying “guys” including folks, people, friends, you all. My personal favorite is simply stopping after saying you and not adding another word. This has always worked well for me and therefore I intend to keep saying it.
How about you? Is saying “guys” part of your day-to-day vernacular? If so, I recommend you consider changing it. It may take some time but it’s well worth the effort.
Need help? You can reach me by phone at 518-664-6004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org