It’s a Guys World . . . Still

Not Just One of the Guys
— by Jersey Joe

Ages ago the saying went, “It’s a Man’s world,” and it must have been true cause James Brown had a song by the same name and being the Godfather of soul and all, [not to be confused with George Brown the Godfather of Confederation, but I digress. . .] the man did not lie. But as the 1960’s rolled on, woman gradually became more empowered, their ‘liberation’ movement gained strength, and their self imaged changed, or did it?

Time was women were commonly and cavalierly referred to as ‘broads,’ ‘dolls,’ ‘babes,’ and a host of other terms that have gone out of fashion. These have been replaced by some equally casual references which usually garner some reaction which punishes the offender. Take the Dom Imus “nappy-headed hos” remark of 2007 as an example. [JJ’s views on that incident can be reviewed HERE] But recently the watchdogs of women references have either gone to sleep, or just become immune to one that has become so prevalent that it’s getting this guy very upset.

It’s about the overuse and misuse of the term ‘guys.’ Waiters and waitress commonly greet a table of customers as ‘guys,’ regardless of how many women might be in the collective. ‘How are you guys doing today?’ ‘Can I get you guys anything to drink?’ ‘You guys ready to order?’ All are so common as to be acceptable and no one complains. I wonder if either the women just don’t care, have given up, or don’t even notice as they are now happy to have become ‘one of the guys.’

Back when I was still teaching, I often chided my Student Teachers [STs] for overusing ‘guys’ in reference to the class as a whole, especially if they did it as many as 8-10 times during a class. [The record back then was 16] I explained that the class was made up of members of both sexes and ‘guys’ was not a multi sexual collective. Yes, teachers do and can use the occasional ‘GUYS’ to get the attention of and discipline the four guys in the back who are goofing off. But, if it was four girls sharing lipstick, it should be, ‘Ladies.’ This usually got them out of the habit.

Now that I supervise STs in the field I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of times ‘guys’ is used in this context. Up till a year ago the record was 24 by a male math ST. Over the past year I have witnessed STs hit 20, 22, 28, and a record 32 times [this last one in a 50 minute class, 10 of which were taken up by the kids working in groups so she did not have to refer to them.] Only one of these STs, the 20’er, was male. When challenged on this each said something like, ‘Yeah, I know I do that.’ Knowledge of a fault is not dealing with the fault as in, ‘Yeah, I know I fart out loud when I write on the board. Do you think they see my pants billow?,’ or ‘I know I should bathe more often,’ or ‘I know I shouldn’t hit them with my fists.’ I tell them to STOP IT and then I give them The Assignment. They must write down 20 more appropriate collectives to use with a class of students. [That’s two right there.] When I brought this to the attention of one of my most recent female STs she looked at me as if I were daft. [I am but what does that have to do with anything?] I asked her if she would in her wildest dreams think of referring to the class as ‘Gals.’ That somewhat got her attention. Maybe, dear readers, I just started to get yours.

Yeah, I know, who cares? These are just young teachers and they are talking to kids [three]. Sometime during the past year as I was watching CBS This Morning as Erica Hill was having a discussion with Rebecca Jarvis and two other women. The four of them had certain things in common. They were all relatively young, well educated, professionals, and very attractive to boot. Yet, she referred to them as ‘guys’ throughout as in, ‘So what do you guys think?,’ ‘Nice of you guys to take part,’ and ‘Thanks, guys, for being here this morning.’ If they were guys then I am gay. No one seemed to notice or care, and I can only guess that this is one of the many places where my STs are getting it from.

Women, it would seem, have only themselves to blame for letting this go on. I suggest it is time for action. The situation is getting worse, I’m doing all I can, but I fear I am losing the battle.

What can be done?

The best response I ever saw and one that taught the lesson most memorably, that women are NOT ‘guys,’ appeared in an episode of Life, a short lived, very entertaining and quirky NBC series [32 eps, ’07-‘09]. Detective Dani Reese, played by Sarah Sahai, was romantically involved with her boss who called her ‘guy.’ In a very memorable scene she stood before him quite naked, a la Jennifer Aniston in The Breakup, and said something like, ‘Take a good look, a real good look, a lasting look. Because, if you ever call me a ‘guy’ again, it’s the last time you’ll ever get to look.”

I think she made her point; I think she made his point. I wish more of you women, ladies, females, heck, even ‘gals,’ would help make mine.

–just my two sense


2 responses to “It’s a Guys World . . . Still

  1. Okay, guy, here’s my two cents. Hehe 😉

    I won’t say I never use “guys” for a collective, but I rarely do, and I never, and I mean, NEVER do it when a female is part of the group.

    It’s as simple to say “What do you think?” as it is to say “What do you guys think?”

    I might refer to someone as a ‘guy’ when I’m talking to a friend. As an example, “Did you see that guy’s …?” or “That guy has a really cute…” You know what I mean.

    Perhaps the youth of today don’t consider the word gender-specific, but…in the case of your STs — using the word is one thing, using it 20, 30, 40+ times is just plain annoying. It shows lack of vocabulary and/or effort in speaking properly. It’s like someone who like, you know, likes to , you know, speak, like, like, you know, to those guys, yeah those guys, or yous guys, like you know…

    It’s not setting a good example for students. Tell them to pick up a damn Thesaurus.


  2. As I have given The Assignment of 20 a number of times now, two just this session, I have compiled a master list of alternatives and it is up to 55 as of today. There are alternatives, and/or as you suggest, the collective can often be avoided.

    But, ‘youse guys’ has a place . .. in 1930 Gangster, not to be confused with ‘gansta,’ [posers], movies.

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