Watch what you say

Make a conscious effort to use gender-neutral language

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Managing Editor

“Hey guys.”

“What’s up, guys?”

Guys. Guys. Guys.

How many times today have you said this? How many times have the people around you said it?

Start listening tomorrow and keep a tally of how many times you hear the “g” word. Then compare that to how many times the entire group of people being addressed is actually guys. I am willing to bet the ratio is not even.

I will be the first to admit I am guilty of this, using “guys” to refer to a group of men and women alike. However, this semester my sensitivity to this, and gendered language in general, has become heightened.

I have made a conscious effort to pay attention to what I say and what people around me say. Here’s what I have noticed: we mostly use male or masculine pronouns, shocking, right?

But it’s more serious than I’m making it out to be and once you start noticing, it’s hard to stop.

This semester alone, I sat in class and was presented with a worksheet that only had “he” and “him” on it. I have heard professors address senators and presidents using those same pronouns and I have been called a “guy” time and time again.

We live in a region of this country where it is the social norm to refer to large groups of people by the gendered language of “guys.” However, whether you like it or not, that is misogynistic language and it perpetuates male supremacy, little by little, day by day.

It’s tough, though. I fully embraced “feminist” as a part of my identity in high school.

When my AP U.S. History class finally reached the point in our country’s history when women got the right to vote, my friends and I wore T-shirts with “It’s about time” scrawled across the front in puffy paint. Since that moment, which I mark as the unofficial onset of this life of identifying with feminism and seeing the world through that lens, I have been seeking ways to make myself better.

This is my latest challenge and it is a tough one. In 2013, The New York Times published a quiz, “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk.” The first question of the quiz was, “How would you address a group of two or more people?” Simply by answering “you guys” instead of “y’all,” “yous,” or “you all,” the quiz determined I lived in the North.

This is something that runs remarkably deep in our region of the country and it’s hard to change, but I think it is worth a conscious effort. It’s worth thinking twice about what you say and how it may make others around you feel.

Everyone deserve a spot in our everyday lingo. I am sick of gendered pronouns showing up on my worksheets and I am sick of senators and presidents being called “he” and “him.” There are too many “she” and “hers” who have worked too hard to make it in politics and their efforts deserve to be validated.

So, you guys and gals alike, make an effort. Pay attention to what you are saying. No matter what our region of the country has decided, gals are not guys.