It’s been one of my pet peeves for years, even in my prefeminist days, so when a Facebook friend began her post with, “I need a little help, guys” it set me off.
|The term "guys" is often applied to mixed companies of men and women.|
Well, I admit I’ve never seen “Goonies,” but I would hesitate to cite a single movie from 1985 as obvious proof that the term “guys,” as it applies to a group of men and women, is acceptable as all-inclusive.
What I would cite are are academic sources for proof that such language is indeed sex- and gender-biased and not inclusive at all.
I would start with The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A section devoted to gender-sensitive language, explains it this way:
Language is important because its influence is so subtle. Every time we speak we have an opportunity to either advance sexism or stop it in its tracks. But, we first have to acknowledge that language is often overlooked as a factor in the perpetuation of sexism.
Feminist scholars agree.
According to its publisher, SAGE Journals, Psychology of Women Quarterly is "a feminist, scientific, peer-reviewed journal that publishes empirical research, critical reviews and theoretical articles that advance a field of inquiry, brief reports on timely topics, teaching briefs, and invited book reviews related to the psychology of women and gender."
And further, "Many men not only lack attention to such incidents but also are less likely to perceive sexist incidents as being discriminatory and potentially harmful for women."
So, do we correct the use of sex and gender-biased language when we hear it -- and thereby make "the unseen" obvious? I say, yes. Although, be prepared for repercussions such as being labeled an oversensitive, nasty, annoying feminist and being dropped as a Facebook friend.
Another question would be, "What -- if anything -- should we say instead?"
I found an online exchange from the women's studies email forum at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where a participant endorsed my personal favorite expression, "y'all," for a couple of reasons:
"Friends" appears courtesy of NBC.