By Anna Hueg – [email protected]
What do you mean when you say “you guys?”
If you’re like most people, it’s a seemingly harmless phrase that slips out when you’re casually referring to your friends, colleagues or a group of people.
We hear it from the mouths of our friends, peers and professors, in magazines and movies. I challenge you to count how many times in a day the phrase “you guys” is used.
But what do you really mean when you say “you guys?”
When you choose to use this phrase to address people, you are really addressing one group of people – men. You are leaving out many others – women and people who don’t identify as men.
Addressing women as “guys” is not only misleading but it is an example of androcentric language that is dominant in our culture. Androcentrism is defined as “centered on, emphasizing or dominated by males or masculine interests.” “You guys” is one of many examples of such language.
Can you think of a situation where a professor walked into a classroom and opened their lecture by saying “you gals” to a co-ed group of students? A situation like this would probably shock you and you might even ask yourself why the professor is saying “gals” when there are men in the room too. But this happens every day, many times a day for women who are called “guys.” This is an example of how androcentrism functions in our everyday lives.
If we want to live in a more inclusive environment, we need to make change by using more inclusive language. That means not referring to those who aren’t “guys” as such.
Let me remind you that all words have meaning. As students of the liberal arts, it is our responsibility to understand words and their meanings and use the appropriate language.
“You guys” has no need to be an essential phrase in our vocabulary. Most of the time, you can simply drop the “guys” from whatever you’re saying. If you’re addressing a group of people try saying, “you all,” “y’all,” “everyone” or “everybody.”
I challenge you, CSB/SJU, to drop “you guys” from your vocabulary. Now that you are aware of this damaging linguistic habit so many of us have – to do something about it that will lead to more inclusive spaces for all.
This is the opinion of Anna Hueg, CSB senior