Everyone got that. This is my response to being included in the phrase “you guys” or it’s use at all in mixed company. “Oh, don’t be so sensitive Stephie, it’s not meant to misgender anyone, it is just a common phrase you use to address a group.” Well, I will, hopefully, explain way I am not being sensitive, or should be seen in that way in this case.
This is not something personal (well it is still that) as when someone misgenders me alone by calling me a “guy;” It is about sexism. “What?” People say this phrase without having any intention of being sexist, it is just a common phrase in use for generations, I have heard in response to my pointing out that I am not a guy. “What?” I hear again, “everyone uses it both women and men.”
People do think there is nothing wrong with it. This is true for both men and women. I know, and that is what makes it so insidious. Yes, insidious, it lays in waiting, keeping women in the dark and unrecognized in social situations.
“Oh, come on Stephie, your making a mountain out of a mole hill.” If you think this is true, think about how “man” was used as a universal signifier for humankind. This not only left women out socially, but literally they were missing from written and verbal communication. It is hard to be recognized when you are never mentioned.
With the advent of feminism this was eventually challenged. Mainly, in academia at first. But, the early feminists would not be silent, so their objections were spoken out loud to the public, and they put pen to paper as well. It became more and more common to use either human beings or women and men together, and separately when not meant to be spoken or written to a mixed audience. Now, except for the bigoted, the ignorant, or, even more pernicious, those that seek to hold on to patriarchy, which is still alive and well.
This post is not about patriarchies ill influences on today’s society. Granted, with a somewhat less of a hold. It is about the social negation of women. While there has been major inroads to the fight against using “man” as a universal, I have not heard anyone, but myself, speak out about the misuse of “you guys,” spoken to mix company.
Do you see my point now, and why I am uppity about this issue? I hope to at least gotten you to think about the issue. Okay, it is not like a major issue, like say the unequal pay of men over women. But, that is no reason to belittle it, or dismiss it as a minor issue. No valid point should be dismissed. And, I believe I make a valid point, and will continue to speak up, and at the very least, announce, “I am not guy.” Got it, I hope so.
You don’t think this is offensive to me. What if I used “gals” referring to a grouping that has at least one guy in it? I bet that most likely that the guy or guys would be indignant. I have a sense that most men would find this problematic, yet think by using “guys,” you have not disrespected the women you maybe speaking to, where you yourself would think that you have been disrespected, if included in someone saying “you gals.”
If need be, use “gals and guys,” or some other form of inclusive language. I bet it would not be hard to find a substitute, but I will leave it to you dear reader, like a pedantic writer saying it in a book, absent the “dear.” Why did I include it? Because I felt like it. Because if this post does anything to change your mind and your language I would consider you a dear reader.
Still don’t get it? What, do I have to get even more uppity. I don’t like being driven towards bitchhood. If you have gotten it, I offer you a big thank you.
I wrote above that as far as I know I have not heard anyone else object to this usage of guys. Would you care to join me? I thank you if you do.
[Note – You might have notice I have not mentioned my transgender status as a woman. That is because this is not about being a transgender woman, but simply about being a woman period. Oh, yes I am a woman I say to the naysayers. Don’t accept that fact, walk a mile in my heels. Still don’t, well now I am getting bitchy.]
13 thoughts on “I am not a Guy”
Rhonda at “Rhonda’s Escape” posted today about the origin of “Guys” and how its use has changed over time. I’m more concerned about the evolution of the word “Dude” and how it is often applied to women, now – even by women. I had a football coach who would address the team with “ladies,” and I would secretly be thinking: Are you talking to me? 🙂
Thanks Connie Dee for your comment, keep on being fabulous.
I would be just as indignant about being included in “dudes.” This is true for any term that is use to address males in mixed company. If someone would use this to me personally, I will politely correct them, just like I would bring it up in mixed company if the opportunity presents itself. The only exception to this is if I am in a situation where I feel I could be physically harmed.
That coach sounds like a bully.
One of my sisters has a really annoying habit.
She’s one of those people who says “you guys” when talking to more than one person, but if anyone in the room is female she then ALWAYS explains that her use of the term is meant to include everyone and is not simply selecting the males in the room. This can happen on multiple occasions in the same gathering.
Why not just be more careful in what she’s saying?!
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Hi Tish, thanks once again for posting a comment.
Have you ever tried to explain why this is wrong? How it socially negates women.
Thanks for the post. The “gals” example is one I’ll use in the future trying to explain it. I still catch myself using “guys” occasionally out of habit and the moment it leaves my mouth I have pangs of regret. I also find it an interesting tidbit of my own psyche that, while I sometimes slip and use “guys”, I would never, ever, use “gals” in a professional setting because my brain instinctively registers it as belittling to the women in the group. I know, doesn’t make sense… just sharing. I avoid “y’all” in professional settings and also in social settings with POCs because I live in the North and it could be interpreted as cultural appropriation. Obviously, “you people” is out of the question and “you folks” just doesn’t come naturally to me. So, when “everyone” or “all of you” doesn’t flow, “you guys” slips out. “Dude” is just… well… when I use it, it’s intentional and often sarcastic.
Anyway, I appreciate the post and I’ll work on hearing “gals” in my brain whenever “guys” pops up so that I interrupt the flow and do a better job of consciously correcting myself.
Side note: Be careful with your use of “uppity”. It can prove triggering for many people even when it’s usage is self-directed at a White woman..
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Thank you for your comment. Navigating gender without turning everything into a political correctness debate is difficult. Everyone wants a place at the table. I do feel it is important to address gender because of the unvoiced assumptions that go behind what is said on the surface can affect those involved, and unfortunately often to the negative. As hearing myself being included in “guys” hits a nerve, it felt good to express myself as a I did. It moved beyond my own feelings into a broader discussion.
I am not sure what population you are referring to as carrying the possibility to be triggered by the word “uppity,” but I am assuming it refers to women of color. I meant no offense. I have reread the definition of the word and realized that I am using it in a non-standard way. When I call myself “uppity” I refer to a strong-willed, opinionated woman, who refuses to be silence. I certainly do not see myself as an arrogant and/or pompous person. That definition seems offensive to me a white woman. In the future I will search for a more accurate term.
That being said, there are many words used to self-describe oneself that could be triggering. The word “queer” come to mind. Our we to deny them the use of a word that they have become proud to describe themselves? Personally, I am having a hard time adjusting to others who use it, and I hear it more often than I used to, now that I travel on “queer” circles. I suppose it comes down to allowing someone the right to self-expression or make language so fraught with anxiety that one is afraid to speak. I realize that is quite an exaggeration, but it speaks to a real social issue.
Thanks once again for you comments.
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Yes, “uppity” was, and is still, used by White people to describe Black people in an attempt to marginalize them.
It also doesn’t help that the minefield of words I (and I assume you as well?) routinely navigate is American English where definitions can be quite dynamic and words themselves are routinely invented. (Isn’t it sick how easy it is to give words cool new meanings or even invent a whole nuther word?)
Some words, like both “queer” and “uppity” have one connotation at their origin and perhaps dictionary definition, then they were applied derogatorily toward marginalized people exactly for the purpose of marginalizing them further. Words like “queer” and even the “n-word” have been reclaimed by those who were previously the targets of them but, their usage remains complicated even within those groups, as you pointed out.
Anyway, “guys” is a simple one though. You’re right, it refers to a specific gender and anyone who questions that wouldn’t readily substitute “gals” in its place.
Full disclosure… as “well-meaning” as I may be, I literally just hung up from a call where the attendees were predominantly women and ended it with “Thanks guys”…
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I have recently been led to question the use of “queer” as being reclaimed by those who choose to. After some thought I realized that some who use it use it in a manner as part of the queer community. I find this a bit problematic for myself. I have no problem with someone using in referring to themselves, but to assign it to a community as if it is inclusive I do not agree with. I don’t identify as queer, so I feel like I am being put aside by this kind of usage. Now I realize that those who use it in this way probably mean no offense or non-inclusion. But, I do not like putting my feelings aside for anyone.
And, thanks once again for commenting.
Guys does seem to be ubiquitous. I was in an online group of trans* individuals when someone posted in the chat “”bye guys.” Again I am pretty sure she was following common usage and meant no offense. Maybe my expectations for other trans* persons to not use it because of how sensitive some are to being misgendered. Again this does not necessarily have a resonance with just us trans* folks.
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Sorry that I did not put this in my last reply about the fluidity of words and the production of new words in American English. This is true for practically any natural language. It is how language evolves. In the most premier dictionary, perhaps in the world, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is continually adding new words each year. The OED’s history is interesting, at least to me. Simon Winchester has written about it in tow of his books.
So, language is fluid and constantly changing. Unfortunately, this leads to confusion. Ideally when should provide (which I did not) a definition of any word that does not meet its usual definition to help prevent confusion. And, please do not tell me I cannot make up words. Actually, for me it is more likely to be an abuse of grammar. But, I do it with a point, which is to emphasize something I am saying. On one occasion I use “worser and worser.” But, I do not use this technique much. I do use sentence fragments more often.
Agreed. I hope you didn’t take my comment to seem like I was trying to tell you you couldn’t make up words. I was sincere in my observation that the fluidity of our language leads to confusion but my parenthetical included “sick”, “cool” and “nuther” which are all used commonly today differently than their origins… well, except “nuther” “nother?”… doesn’t matter… you know what I mean… we made that one up recently I think. I don’t study language so, I have no idea how fluid other languages are. It’s probably my sense of American exceptionalism that led me to think it unique how we can insert random words into sentences, verbify nouns and even make up new words on-the-fly (not literally while riding a fly like a pony though) sorry…
Anyway, update: I’m doing better with removing “guys” from my lexicon.
Your comments come across as sincere, like a give and take conversation. I would elaborate my thoughts on language, but I deem it to be too philosophical for this blog. It would belong to my philosophy blog, which is currently idle.
Matter of fact your comments, especially the first couple has led me to think about how best it would be to describe myself when standing up for my thoughts and feelings. I am leaning toward a strong-willed woman, but I am far from pinning it down. I am currently writing a blog post about it. I have not always had that side of myself. It only arose after I identified as a woman. A bit strange, since the actions I carry out during these times are thought by many to not be a feminine trait. Well, I will leave it up to you to imagine where that crowd could go. So, stay tuned for the post. My timeline for posting it is up in the air as I am writing a few other posts that could be describe exploring myself as well.
Thanks again for your comments. Please don’t feel shy to comment on anything I write. I do not fear that you would post anything disrespectful.
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