Thursday, July 3, 2014

WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?


I am constantly annoyed by peoples’ efforts to put me in a labeled noun box.  What is wrong with saying to me or to me and my friends “you”?   It works singular or plural.

Worst is “you guys”.  It has become a popular tic, and people who refer to us this way don’t use it only once, but in every sentence.   Even when we say we are not guys (similar to or almost as good as men),* they still can’t stop the tic, even when they try.  

But I don’t like “ladies” as an alternative tic either.  To me, lady has always connoted propriety of upper class with a faint hint of contempt, and I don’t think I have ever been a lady, anyway.  A recent restaurant visit had the waitress incessantly asking: “Ladies, another drink?  How is everything, ladies?”
 
We are women.  We often tell the speaker that - and if they find that word impossible or terrifying to use (and many do), they could just leave off the noun and say "you".

*we don’t appreciate the comparison, especially since so many male bad behaviors are dismissed as “a guy thing”

3 comments:

  1. Good points, Selma. Reading this reminds me of the implications of the "you guys" language... will do a better job. Thank you!
    Love, Ana V

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  2. Hi Selma,

    I came to Bloodroot a couple of weeks ago and you took the time to describe your photos from Italy to my Mom, sister, and me (very appreciated!). I recall using the term "you guys" during the conversation we had and I wanted to apologize. I realize I can perpetuate harmful patriarchal schema in the terms that I use and sometimes I'm not as mindful about this as I would like to be. Your post is thought provoking and important.

    Hope to see you again soon at Bloodroot!

    -Angela

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  3. Hmm. I never thought of "you guys" as indicating gender. I've always thought of it as a colloquial gender-less plural form, similar to how people in the South use y'all. When asking a question of two or more people, "you guys" feels more inclusive to me -- saying just "you" would feel like I was only asking one member of the group. Changing colloquial language is difficult, but I'll try to be more mindful. With time and mindfulness, change is possible. School children are now taught gender-less occupations such as "mail carrier" or "fire fighter" instead of the -man ending.

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