Dear dictionaries & media companies: Saying "you guys" is sexist, you guys ;)
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Why People Say “You All” to Help You All:
Saying “guys” to mean all genders led influencers like recruiters to say, “let’s hire a guy,“ (illegal), companies were built by guys (but not all were men), “hedge fund guys,“ “congressmen,“ etc. That affects people's career choices. Men and women apply for jobs in more equal proportions when inclusive language is used. Kids say careers for women are hairdressers and men have jobs where they’re in charge. In 2017! Suprise! Research shows saying “he” and “man” to refer to all people causes people to only think of males.
A recent study found that when men and women completed a questionnaire of their self-efficacy (the belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations), the women reported lower self-efficacy when filling out the masculine-generic form than when they filled out the gender-neutral form.
Former Chief of the Army David Morrison is trying to phase out “you guys” from Australian workplaces. He cited Australian Diversity Council research that shows gender-based language has as much a harmful effect as when you say something blatantly inappropriate to another person. Research shows that more inclusive workforces are more effective. One of the ways that you can create that environment is talking to people with respect.
If women primarily exist in language as “girls” (children), “sluts” and “guys,” it’s not surprising there are a lot of gender inequalities to fix like violence. Words shape our thoughts. More on that below.
If you want anyone to listen to anything you say, it’s safer to not unintentionally offend people. Plus, it's rude to call someone something they said they don't want to be called. “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally,” says David Gaider.
Non-sexist language can help everyone. Join thousands of people like you that avoid calling women "guys" and "girls," such as Australia Diversity Council, colleges (e.g., University of Nebraska, U of Michigan, Duke, Princeton), U.S. states (Washington, Florida, North Carolina, California, New York, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Utah), U.S. federal agencies (18F, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), companies (Google, Salesforce, Slack, Spotify, npm), and writers from USA TODAY, New Yorker, The Huffington Post, KALW, AlterNet, xoJane, Bustle, Jezebel, Everyday Feminism and ShoutOutJMU), and more.
Michael Jascz writes that saying “guys” to describe both sexes started catching on in the 1980s, when women were publicly asserting their rights. If men wouldn’t like being called “gals,” then the message is there must be something wrong with being feminine (e.g., man up, don't cry like a girl). “Guys” does not recognize women. It also excludes them.
“Making the switch from ‘ladies’ and ‘guys’ to ‘folks’... would be pretty easy if you could see the way it affects people. A small effort from you could make a big difference for a lot of folks,” says Alyssa Garrison.
Author Alice Walker said some women who say “you guys” may feel the need to be accepted, and that it’s ironic that after so many years of struggle for women's liberation, women are called guys.
Most people don’t like to being called something they’re not.
Think of something you've done that you're most proud of that helped other people. Then consider signing this friendly petition. (You don't have to write your full name or address). Then dictionaries and media companies will get this letter:
Saying "you guys" is totally sexist, you guys ;)
How soon can you join Google, tech companies, governments and colleges and avoid calling everyone “guys“ and calling women “girls“?
Media companies can encourage writers and reporters to avoid calling everyone "guys." And some dictionaries need to change their definition of guys as "persons of either sex" to “It's sometimes offensive to calling everyone 'guys.' Also, there are more than two genders.” It’s not too much to ask for because some dictionaries already say it’s “sometimes offensive” to call a grown woman a girl.
Join other dictionaries that are not reinforcing sexism. Words like "bossy" and "nagging” are not gender neutral. Pronouns in dictionaries for “doctor” and “research” are male, while “she” can be found doing “housework.” When Michael Oman-Reagan looked up the word “rabid,” the dictionary said “a rabid feminist.” He tweeted it at Oxford Dictionaries with the suggestion, “maybe change that?” When he woke up the next day, he found that his tweet was shared hundreds of times. Oxford ultimately tweeted an apology.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Lots of people that promote non-sexist language:
- Australia Diversity Council
- Colleges (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Michigan, Duke University, and Princeton University), U.S. states (Washington, Florida, North Carolina, California, New York, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Utah)
- U.S. federal agencies (18F, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), companies (Salesforce, Slack, Spotify, npm),
- Writers (USA TODAY, New Yorker, The Huffington Post, KALW, AlterNet, The Relationship Foundation, xoJane.com, Bustle, Jezebel, Everyday Feminism, Bitch Media, ShoutOut! JMU, Alice Walker, and Alice Walker Film, Mayim Bialik, Carmen Rios, Maya Benari, Tajha Lanier, Jenée Desmond-Harris).
I never told anyone that it bothered me that people say “you guys” to me everyday, even if they mean no harm. I didn’t want to offend anyone. But warning: now I make snarky pins that are at the In Other Words Feminist Community Center. Proceed with extreme excitement :)
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