Make a list of all of the world’s injustices and crises. At the top will likely be crime, world hunger, discrimination and the worldwide need for quality education. While I understand that this list will vary according to philosophy and society, my guess is that this covers some of the most crucial. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that the use of “you guys” is among the top ten of issues that I would change if I could.
There are several explanations for the origin of the word “guy.” One is from the French word guier that means to guide. Another explanation is from the old Germanic word that means woods. No matter the origin, the American version of this word is used so often and so disrespectfully (in my opinion), that I have come to dislike being called one of “you guys.”
You hear this term everywhere you go. On the internet, I hear one of my husband’s American favorites use the term at least ten times in each occasion that he posts a video. Likewise, I just heard one from a non-American who has adopted this unfortunate habit, repeatedly referring to his viewing public as “you guys.”
If I could, I would ignore it. Yesterday, an otherwise excellent restaurant server stopped at our table at least four times to ask, “You guys doing okay?”. It amuses but doesn’t surprise that there exists a verb form of guy that means to ridicule. But the term disrupted me far before I discovered that.
My hope is that I don’t unknowingly use the term, especially in the classroom. Students need to be addressed as students or class or boys and girls, never as guys. The fact that we use it so easily and repeatedly makes the term unexceptional and crude.
While I realize that I will have a better chance at correcting world hunger than eliminating “you guys,” I will continue to point out its offensive nature. In a restaurant, I am a guest or patron or client, not a guy. Maybe if I am an example to enough people, I can watch it disappear as effectively as “my bad” or “at the end of the day” or “reach out.” Being a one-man band allows me to select my music, regardless of the size of my audience. Shalom.
If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it will be my privilege to do so. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.