Tag Archives: sexist language

You Guys



I’m wondering how you feel about the ubiquitous phrase you guys. We went to brunch today with another couple: two women and two men. The server repeatedly referred to us as you guys: Are you guys ready to order? Do you guys want any coffee? Is there anything else I can get you guys?

I’m not sure what the female equivalent of guys is. Gals? (I hate that word.) Girls? I’m long past my girlhood. Dolls, as in the great Broadway show? (But ick.)

It’s not as if people don’t recognize two sexes at the table. But if a female-denoting word were habitually to be used to address a mixed-gender group, I’m guessing the males would stifle that immediately. Are women ready to announce they are not guys? Or do we let it roll over us and fuggedaboudit?


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Eliminate Sexist Writing: Don’t Assume

In our continuing series of solutions to sexist writing (and speaking), avoid assumptions, as in the following sentence:

Overworked dentists frequently neglect their wives and children.

Perhaps fifty years ago you could have gotten by with that sentence, but today many dentists, as well as doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, firefighters and police officers, are female.

Conversely, many nurses and secretaries are male. It works both ways.

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Eliminate Sexist Writing: Choose Inclusive Language

Each year while watching the Academy Awards, I keep hoping to see Oscars given for Best Actor, Male and Best Actor, Female.  Why should we distinguish between actors and actresses? We don’t have teachers and teacherettes, doctors and doctoresses.  Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster have always referred to themselves as actors.  Inclusive language is realistic.  “Actor” is the main job category; “actress” is a sub-category of that.  Not fair.  They do the same job.

Tomorrow, another aspect of sexism in writing.

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