The use of "guys" as a gender neutral catch-all

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Trigger, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. Trigger hewwo uwu

    Oct 6, 2006
    Corridors of Time
    Something I'm always trying to do is not assume a person's gender online. This was before I became aware of the intricacies of gender politics and preferences, I'd always thought it bad to assume everyone was male by default and I try my best not to.

    Still, I'm stuck in the usage of vernacular like "guys" when referring to a group of players. There are a few female gamers I group up with quite often when playing Overwatch, and almost always the word is used by the entire team. "Well played guys!" and so on.

    It only ever really becomes awkward when a player joins a group, hears a girl, says something like "well played boys!" and awkwardly adds "...oh and girls!". Usually the woman in the group (singular, mostly) will say "don't worry, it's not a problem", but I'm curious if we should be making more of an effort here.

    Before we begin, I'm not overly worried or fussing about how I come across personally, I'm curious about the overall conversation of exclusivity. I've talk to a few women and they've told me that there are behaviors that are present that make it difficult for the women to feel at home in gaming communities, and while this may be a tiny part of the problem I'm curious how does this use of language make you feel? This question is to all gender types, not just the binary.
  2. Fearless A good and beautiful child

    Dec 17, 2006
    lmao idk
    Personally, I have no problem with the term. The way language evolves over time is a funny thing, and sometimes gender specific terms become gender neutral in certain contexts. We use the word 'cool' for things that are awesome or impressive, but if you used it a hundred years ago, it would have no other connotation than to mean 'slightly cold'. Likewise, some words have more than one meaning, and 'cool' can be used both to describe something that's super rad, and something that's a little chilly.

    In my opinion, using 'guys' to describe a group of people, no matter the gender of the occupants of the group, is no different than the French 'ils', which is also used for groups of people of mixed gender. I say 'guys' all the time, and very seldom does anyone have a problem with it, since the way the term has evolved has conditioned us to accept it as a legitimate way to refer to a group.

    (However, on the off chance that someone does ask you not to refer to them as 'guys', definitely respect their wishes, the same way you'd respect someones pronouns.)

    Exclusion in gaming communities is a huge problem, definitely, and there's a lot of language and attitudes that need to be changed. However, in this specific case, I'd have to say that this is a non-issue.
  3. Calxiyn Keyblade Master

    Jun 6, 2012
    Cisgender Female
    I've done this forever and no one's called me out on it or anything. I feel like also the fact that I'm a girl and then call groups of girls and guys "guys" it helps me out a little bit. I would agree with Fearless though, that if someone is uncomfortable with that that would be the only real issue with it. At this point I feel like everyone sorta knows. I also use "dudes" this way but that is definitely more tricky.

    Like in my discord server I'll usually say "Hey guys how's it going", but I know like, 60% of the people in there are female, they know it too. Sometimes I'll use everyone but then Discord is like "oh hey you want to @ everyone what a great idea", when, no I certainly didn't. You could start using "good job everyone" though if the people you're playing with really feel like saying guys excludes them, but I think as the language changes overtime everyone will get used to it.
  4. Lauriam I hope I didn't keep you waiting...

    Jun 4, 2009
    Nonbinary She/He
    Daybreak Town
    I personally never had a problem with the term 'guys,' and honestly, 'dude,' too. My sisters and I all say "hey guys" when we talk to each other, and we all call each other 'dude' literally all the time. It's never even been a deal for us. That said, for some, there is a difference, especially among the older generations. For example, my grandmother is very particular that she doesn't say 'guys' when she's talking to a group that includes girls, and in fact, we're not allowed to say 'guys' inclusively to a group at my workplace, since a solid percent of our customer base are older people (we're a 50's diner in business since 1948 and have customers who have been regulars all their lives, as well as customers who visit for a taste of nostalgia). I had to actually train myself to stop using it inclusively because I'm just so used to saying 'guys' to mean 'hey all you people.' XD

    So I feel like for the most part, among younger people, 'guys' is prooobably mostly gender-neutral, while the shift is still new enough to not apply to everyone.
  5. Makaze Some kind of mercenary

    Jan 22, 2011
    The Matinée
    In my experience, "guys" and "dude" are inoffensive as gender-neutral terms except for when used on people who have experience being misgendered for real. For them, it brings up all the bad history and cannot be seen as gender-neutral due to baggage.

    Always check your audience. Words do mean different things depending on who hears them.
  6. Explode Who?!

    May 20, 2007
    New York
    In real life, I've occasionally used "guys" when talking to a group of (2-3) girls. I hesitated and felt really weird doing it, but still preferable to saying "girls" or "ladies", which I feel could sound sleazy or condescending in that context. Honestly don't know, maybe that's just my weird baggage. Language is a funny thing.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  7. Styx That's me inside your head.

    Sep 16, 2008
    Using the male form to refer to a mixed group is actually extremely common in several languages and done for the sake of convenience. Even when there are gender-neutral alternatives available like in English ("Well done, you lot!"), they don't tend to see as much use and I have yet to meet someone who has issues with that. I suppose trying to mention boys and girls by default is always the safer choice, but it's not the end of the world if you slip up sometimes.
  8. SushiKey Destiny Islands Resident

    Jul 27, 2017
    Yeah, I think it's fine. It's not that big of deal to me, though some might find it weird (I can think of certain places that might not like it), but won't list them here. Though I do agree, that if you feel like it, use guys or girls depending on what type of people are in the group. It's cool.