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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » The phrase "you guys" (Page 1)

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Author Topic: The phrase "you guys"
alohamora
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It may roll off our tongues flippantly every day, but how do you all feel about using the phrase "you guys."

Do you use it in mixed company intending to address everyone, or do you use it among your girlfriends knowing there are really no "guys" among you?

What do you think? Can the phrase refer to both men and women? Is it sexist? Should we alter our way of using language in everyday speech and find alteratives? (Y'all, you girls?)

Or is this just a regional thing, used in Southern California?

[This message has been edited by alohamora (edited 12-09-2002).]


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Sunset_Rose
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I personally don't use the term 'you guys'often, but I don't really think that it should apply to any specific gender. I think that its generally just a way of addressing a group of people you know, or of saying hi to a group of friends.
I don't really see the need to find an alternative, as I don't see it as being a gender specific term, but I would still respond to 'Hey you girls' with 'Hi' etc.
I guess its just a matter of personal choice- if you want to use an alternative, go ahead!

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Gumdrop Girl
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Well, you could always start saying "y'all."

I say "you guys" and it doesn't mean anything. imho, it's not sexist. I could say "hey gals" and it's no big deal.

What about languages like Spanish? You have pronouns like "nosotros" versus "nosotras," the latter referring "we" if the group is all female, and the former referring to an all male or mixed-gender crowd.

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Correlation does not equal causation.


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BruinDan
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I'm a SoCal native and I use the term all the time, regardless of who is in the group. Its been part of my vernacular for as long as I can remember, and it typically rolls off my tongue before I'm even aware of it.

Do I think it's sexist? Naaaah. Its just a term I use, and I hear it from girls just as often as I hear it from guys when they are referring to a mixed-gender group of people.

I think it's all too easy to pick apart words and throw down the gauntlet when we find one we feel is offensive. When I was in 7th grade, I got remanded to some laugh-riot sensitivity-training class because I used the term "gals" to refer to a group of girls in the hallway. Turns out slaveowners referred to slave women as "gals" in the Antebellum South, and this offended somebody. Mind you, this was 1991 and I had no freakin' clue what term slaveowners used to refer to African-American women at that time. I considered it a lesson learned at the time, but I still think it is just a little ridiculous how bent out of shape we can get at things that have no malicious intent.

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BruinDan, "Number Three," PSOM

"Battery Stolen; Youth Charged"


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Dzuunmod
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It's worth noting though, Dan, that many people use that same argument for the phrase "that's so gay".

Many of the people who say it don't mean to offend anyone, but they sometimes do.

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"Will you help him change the world? Can you dig it?"
"Yes I can!"
-Chicago, Saturday in the Park (Yeah, yeah. Shut up.)


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Milke
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'Guys', however, is very seldom used in a derogatory sense, unlike 'that's so gay'. I like 'guys', it has all the usefulness and versatility of 'dude', but it's a bit less of an exclamation, and sounds a bit less Ninja Turtle-ish.

Where words come from can and often does affect their connotations, and I'd be curious to know whether 'gal' originated on plantations, or has a greater history.

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Milke, SSBD, RATS

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PoetgirlNY
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There was an interesting article about just this topic in the October issue of Bitch. I couldn't find the article on the website, but if you can find the magazine anywhere, it's a good read. One of the key points I remember was brought up is that saying "you guys" renders women invisible.

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You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
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Gumdrop Girl
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Then why not do away with plural pronouns altogether? After all, they marginalize your individual identity. Might as well just call all people by their names, even if it gets horribly cumbersome because it's less likely to offend someone.

uggh, political correctness gone horribly awry.

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Correlation does not equal causation.


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~jess~
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i use it with my guys friends and girl friends. i dont think its sexist. i think its weirder saying you girls.

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my world


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PoetgirlNY
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I'm not saying that I never use "you guys," but I think that "folks" is a good alternative.

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You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
-Allen Ginsberg


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Dzuunmod:
It's worth noting though, Dan, that many people use that same argument for the phrase "that's so gay".

No they don't, because if they are using the term "gay" in that manner, they are taking a term which is commonly used for homosexuals and affixing it to something they dislike or find distasteful. If I go up to you and Milke and say "Hey guys," I find you neither dislikeable or distasteful, and I am using the term as a way of greeting my friends. The difference is in its intended method of use. Whether you intend to offend someone or not, using a word as a means of expressing distate is one thing; using a word as a means of expressing friendship or camaraderie is another.

Using "folks" is all well and good if it suits you. I can't see anything outwardly wrong with it, though I can't see anything wrong with saying "hey guys," either. I don't think it makes women invisible at all, I think it includes them in a manner that seems to me to be advantageous. Rather than wasting time differentiating between genders, it is a single term that can be used in an all-inclusive fashion.

And it works in reverse too. I'm one of the only guys at work, and I'll frequently be outnumbered 8-to-1 when lunch break rolls around. And when I walk into the Chinese joint down the road and am greeted with "hey ladies," I don't take offense. I know what the nice man's intent is, and I greet him in return. A little bit of thick skin will always win in the end.

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BruinDan, "Number Three," PSOM

"Battery Stolen; Youth Charged"


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Dzuunmod
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I understand what you're all saying, however, I think that many young people have so disassociated the phrase 'so gay' from homosexuality, that they really aren't trying to offend anyone. I have younger cousins like this.

I'm one of the few who consciously avoids the phrase 'you guys' when I'm referring to a group with women in it. I'm not all holier-than-thou, though. I avoid it simply because it doesn't seem right in my mind to use it there. Generally, I just believe that many people don't think enough about the language they use.

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"Will you help him change the world? Can you dig it?"
"Yes I can!"
-Chicago, Saturday in the Park (Yeah, yeah. Shut up.)


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Dude_who_writes
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Political correctness gets such a bad name most of the time. For some reason, the idea that attempting to do away with phrases or ideas that have the potential of offending people rubs some people the wrong way.

I mean, just because something is comfortable, doesn't mean it's right. Trying to weigh some type of level of offense that could be taken with the phrase is just a bad idea. The same argument could be used with the "n" word and the "f" work (in respect to homosexuality), honestly. I'm not suggesting that the words carry the same weight, quite to the contrary -- I'm just showing you that from the perspective of personal comfort, making judgements on word usage isn't always the best way to make that judgement.

Now, I'm not trying to be a militant political correctness-enforcer -- quite to the contrary. The phrase doesn't offend me, personally, but we have to understand that we live in a world where our words can affect everyone surrounding us. Just because we're comfortable with a specific phrase usage, doesn't automatically negate the fact that we should still be sensitive of other people's feelings.

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Tim
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[This message has been edited by Dude_who_writes (edited 12-10-2002).]


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Dude_who_writes:
but we have to understand that we live in a world where our words can affect [b]everyone surrounding us. [/B]

But it doesn't affect everyone, because if it did, we'd either all be offended by it or we'd all think it was fine and dandy. There are men and women in the world who really couldn't care less about the term and see nothing remotely wrong with it at all, and for that reason alone I have a problem with getting rid of his phrase altogether.

I think political correctness gets a bad rap when it gets out of control. I think the general concept seems to be fair enough, that we should try and do what we can not to offend others. But when it boils down to regulating things like phrases that are neither designed nor intended to offend others, I start to bristle in opposition. If I call somebody the "n" word, I deserve all wrath I get because that is a term that has been fairly well universally panned as being offensive to African-Americans. Same goes if I call a homosexual person the "f" word. It's a term that is designed to hurt, intended to hurt, and is often successful in its aim. "Guys," on the other hand, is not guilty on either count.

And as a result, I find the difference to be quite striking. Using the "n" word in the workplace would be enough for most anyone to get fired, and probably rightfully so. But if I get canned for giving a cheery greeting of "Hi guys!" to a mixed-gender group of my friends at work, you can bet I'd be steamed.

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BruinDan, "Number Three," PSOM

"Battery Stolen; Youth Charged"


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Milke
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Political correctness most certainly has its place, but when it's applied to inappropriate things a lot of things that really do matter lose their meaning. I think we need to be really careful to be sensitive to various needs, and use our language as fully and effectively as we can, which means that not all situations can be judged the same way, nor should they be. Our words come from a variety of sources, and have a great deal of backgrounds; what applies to one doesn't apply to all.

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Are we not men?


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Renae
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Well I just use ya'll. But I really don't think that "you guys" is offensive.. for the general public it typicaly means just the friends that you're referring to.
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alohamora
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One of the downfalls of political correctness and its intent to stay aware of the sensitivites of others is that it typically results in the curtailing of speech and tiptoeing around making sure you don't offend. While it's true that some could care less about the language they use, language does influence attitudes, so it's one thing to use "you guys" in friendly company, it's another if you're in class or at work and hear, "What do you guys think?" If you hear it often enough, you begin to wonder about the effects and I know of complaints where women do feel excluded or more hesitant to answer because they're not specifically addressed .

For the record, I've yet to hear "you girls/gals" used in a socially acceptable, inclusive way. To my understanding, calling a group of men "girls or gals" usually has negative connotations--as a means to demasculinate or suggest that they're gay, perhaps. (And for that matter, I've yet to hear "that's so hetero...") Some things are naturally taken as a given, I guess, but different words certainly have different meanings and weight associated with them.

All else aside, I can appreciate the zaniness that comes from political correctness because there's the potential for dialogue that would otherwise be silenced. I mean, you get jokes like: what would you call Manhattan in a gender-neutral way? Or what about Charlize Theron doing a skit on Saturday Night Live about being African American?

If anything I'm more conscious of how I use the phrase, but then again, I'm also something of a language nut...

Um. Yeah. That's it from me for now.


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Dude_who_writes
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The problem is that there isn't a broad-sweeping generalization that could be made on this topic. I don't think that we should do away phrases that may or may not offend. I do think that it's always a good idea to think before we speak, and that questioning the phrases that we commonly use could never hurt. It all boils down to situational sensetivity. If you know that something you say bothers someone (or even has the potential to bother someone) perhaps you should think twice about it.

[This message has been edited by Dude_who_writes (edited 12-11-2002).]


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Milke
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So Tim, if it were up to you would the phrase stay or go?

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Milke, SSBD, RATS

Are we not men?


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Dude_who_writes:
If you know that something you say bothers someone (or even has the potential to bother someone) perhaps you should think twice about it.


Yeah, but that's just plain ol' common sense. No real rhyme or reason to it, and no real argument against it. The problem lies in just how you know when something is going to bother someone. You've got the toughies who don't care what you say to them and the touchy-feely people who explode at the mere hint of offense, and the majority of the people are somewhere in between.

Drawing the line is where it becomes problematic. And a lot of what I personally see in political-correctness is the drawing of lines in a manner that seems overly broad and overly restrictive. And while I'm aware of the "err on the side of caution" school of thought, where speech is concerned I tend to err on the side of personal freedom. Especially where there is no ill intent present.

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"Battery Stolen; Youth Charged"


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Dude_who_writes
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I'm all for keeping the phrase. I actually use it semi-frequently, but I usally try to make a conscious effort about my word choice because I surround myself with a pretty diverse group of people. (I'm also a person who generally is really careful about his choice of words -- maily because I have a fear of confrontation or having people angry/upset with me, but that's for another thread.)

Anyway, like I've said, I have a problem with simply doing away with the phrase. The only time that it really shouldn't be used is if you're positive that someone would have a problem with it. And I define that, personally, by their having had a problem with a similar phrase in the past, or if they've told me point-blank that they don't like it being used. I'm not suggesting that we have to be mind-readers or overly-cautious. I'm just saying that it's common courtsey.

As a general rule, in situations where I don't know the people well enough to make that judgement, I try to use a gender-neutral means of greeting them.

I mean, let's face it -- it's not like there aren't options outside of "hey, guys" or "howdy, gals." A little creativity and thought never hurt anyone.

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Tim
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I am not Dr. Freud, nor is he on staff. The talking cure this ain't.

[This message has been edited by Dude_who_writes (edited 12-12-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Dude_who_writes (edited 12-12-2002).]


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Rizzo
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I personally use the phrase from time to time, and am not offended when people say it so me. But I agree with alohamora... if I went around addressing males or mixed groups as "gals," people would get offended. Maybe I'll start doing that as an experiment.

I agree that "y'all" or "folks" is better.


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Kite
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I don't think "you guys" is particularly bad, but I do agree with PoetGirlNY and the Bitch article that it contributes to making women invisible. It's sort of like how old science and math textbooks always use "he" when referring to the reader, and always use male characters in examples. When you're a girl in an environment that doesn't support girls in the sciences and every textbook you read seems written for men, it gets to you eventually. I would imagine that if you're a girl living in some male-centric place, the phrase "you guys" would similarly get on your nerves eventually.
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Apoc-chan
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For me, I use "you guys" when addressing a group of males, a mixed group, or a group of females.

I think the term has become a term of address that is 9/10ths gender neutral, and the 1/10th that counts is too insignificant to worry about.

I agree with this => "A little bit of thick skin will always win in the end. "

And, to modify it slightly, I'd say that a little bit of "who the heck has enough energy or really cares enough to make an issue of it" will also help.


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Beppie
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Well, I certainly have no problem with the phrase "you guys," and I use it to refer to groups of females, males and both. I see no reason that anyone should stop doing so.

What I do think is worth thinking about is why terms such as "you gals" or "you shielas" (only Aussies will get that one probably) hasn't become embedded in our language in the same way that "you guys" has. While fellows like Danny may not take offense at being addressed in a group as "you gals" (and kudos to him for it), there are, I know from experience, plenty of males who would feel threatened if referred to in a term that denotes femininity. It's a similar phenonemon to the whole "tom boy" is cute, while "girly boy" is derogatory thing- there's nothing wrong with being a tom boy, but there's nothing wrong with being a girly boy either.

So, in conclusion, I say use the term "you guys" to your heart's content, but it might be a good idea to use a term like "you gals" in mixed company once in a while, just to make your own little contribution to changing things.


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DarkChild717
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This topic made me chuckle a bit. I am part of an organization for girls, called Job's Daughters. We, for the most part, are all female. Especially at our meetings. Some of the girls in my unit got irritated at being called "guys" that they decided to charge ten cents everytime someone addressed the all-girl meeting as "guys". We made quite a bit of money, and it stopped real quick.

As for me personally, I have no problem. I use "dude" quite a bit too. If the people in reference are all female, then I use the term "girls." If it is a mixed group, then "guys" or "hey yall".


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SillyLittleGurlie
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I'll start out by stating that I am female. The reason I start out this way is because I wanted to touch on one thing I read over and over in this forum. A couple people said that "you guys" makes women invisible, one in particular (and not to pick on you specifically at all) said that its the same as how books refer to the reader as "he" and a lot of things like this... However, I think that sometimes females get hung up on sexual equality but they take it to extremes. Is it REALLY that big of a deal? You know that whoever is saying "you guys" (for example) is talking to you, and that they obviously wouldn't mean it to offend, because its a friendly greeting. I have nothing wrong with women that want more rights or anything like that, but I find that a lot of women go overboard and expect too much. This is just an example on a smaller scale. But its getting to the point where women expect to be treated BETTER than men and not just as equals. I think we need to get over the gender equality thing because women and men are different and some things are going to sway in favor of one or the other no matter what. All you can do is make things as fair as possible. I think that if someone says "you guys" to a group of people, whether mostly female or mostly male, is basically just saying HEY so take it as that, and I guess if you're really seriously offended, then let them know that you prefer not to be referred to as a "guy" in a setting like that. All you can do is let people know if something bothers you. When someone refers to me as one of the "guys" or whatever, I actually find it somewhat comforting because it seems to be a more personal term than other terms.
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SouthernBabyDawl
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I dont think ive ever said you guys my entire life until just now!! ive always said yall maybe is cuz im from down south...ive always thought you guys sounded funny oh well L8er!

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KandyKorn17
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"y'all" just rolls off the tongue better, doesn't it??

I think Dzuunmod was hitting on something with the whole derogatory use of the word "gay". It's used so much now that no one even thinks of homosexuality when they hear someone say "that's so gay".

Same thing with "you guys" or "hey guys!" or "c'mon guys!"... did any of you just immediately picture a group of all males when you heard those phrases? I didn't.


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Gatekeeper
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i have often used the word "Guys" to mean both men and women. I think of it more as "you people"

I've never ever had anyone ever say that it was sexist to use it in refering to women.
My GF's good friend has taught classes, and she was actually told by her head of her department not to use it in that way. Since she often said "hey guys" in refering to the whole class.
She ignored her supervisor and continued to use it. Feeling it was silly.


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Funnybunny04
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I use the term " you guys" even if I'm talking to a group of all girls. Its just a habit. If I don't say "you guys" I say " yall" Again, it's a habit. I'm from Texas, but I think anyone could say it withought sounding country.

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Posts: 7 | From: Longview, Texas, United States | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
naughtykitty
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i almost always use the term "you guys" when referring to groups of people, even if they are all female. i don't think it renders women invisible at all.
the male form of words is generally what is used for collective groups
we are "mankind" or even shorter we are "man"

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Beppie
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quote:
Originally posted by naughtykitty:

we are "mankind" or even shorter we are "man"

Etymologicially, the terms "man" and "mankind" were gender neutral once upon a time, and that is why they are still used that way. However, the reason that the word "man" started being attributed to people of the male gender is because socially women were in some ways invisible- males were considered the epitome of what it is to be human, and therefore, the word that meant "human" was applied to them, and not to women (unless they were in a group).

Now days, people do think "male" when they hear the term "man". In my linguistics study, I came across an interesting paper about a study done on some children. When they were told to draw a picture of "cave men" they drew adult males only. When told to draw "cave people" they drew males and females of all ages. I do think, therefore, that using the term attributed to males to describe everyone can have the effect of making others (women and those of other genders) invisible.



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Sam007
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When I say, 'you guys' I'm not litteraly meaning the guys, in fact I dont really even males. Just like i say 'dude' or 'man' a lot i can say them to my mother and not mean that my moms a dude. Being politcaly correct is one thing, but to be politcaly anal is enougher.

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Take my eyes take my heart I need them no more
If never again they fall upon the one I so adore
Excuse me please one more drink
Could make it strong cause I donít need to think
She broke my heart my Grace is gone
One more drink and Iíll move on


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roziline
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I see no probs with "guys". IMO its just a quick way of greeting everyone. But see where you are coming from.

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Rosie
the girl dreams are made of =)


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