Mighty Red Pen

March 24, 2010

Hey, you guys!

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 7:21 pm

So the fact that Mister MRP was inspired by Erin McKean’s recent article (“Hey Guys! Yes, Ladies, This Means You”) to ask the girls on the sports team he coaches what they thought about him referring to them as guys made me want to revisit the issue. Are you comfortable with using guys when you are referring to a group of women or do you object on the grounds that it is sexist (or some other reason)?

McKean writes, “But however much this use of guys annoys you, believe me, it’s better this way. The plain truth and the knotty problem is that all the other options for addressing a group are worse.” For the record, the girls on Mister MRP’s team were totally fine with being referred to as guys. They scoffed at the idea of being called ladies and Mister MRP thought that gals was just silly. I have to agree: it’s just not right for a guy to refer to a group of women as ladies, and I tend to think that gals is a “Golden Girls” kind of term (as in “Blanche and the gals are coming over for Long Island iced teas after golf”). Myself, I am a-okay with guys, and when I’m striving for something that can be more broadly applied to any group, I go for folks.



  1. I don’t use “you guys” often, but I have no problem using it for a group of cis women. I’m a bit more hesitant to use it for transwomen because it could inadvertently have the nasty implication of “you’re not real women.”

    Comment by Erin — March 24, 2010 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  2. The problem is that English lacks a proper you (plural) and it forces us into these silly, complicated expressions. I use ya’ll in place of guys or dolls and it usually works nicely. Thumbs up for ya’ll: plural /and/ gender-neutral.

    Comment by David — March 26, 2010 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

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