So I regularly check into my group discussion boards on LinkedIn. The other day, I went into one of my Writers’ groups and found a discussion by a young woman asking for advice or information. Her question began like this: “I am wondering what you guys think about…”.
The one and only response so far was this:
Please don’t fall into the rut of using sexist language. Everybody isn’t a “guy.” You wouldn’t think of calling everybody “gals,” and I’m sure you wouldn’t use racist terminology. Sexist terminology is just as bad.
Whoa! Slow your roll, lady!
I teach my students to avoid sexist language in formal, academic writing. But this? Is informal writing—it’s a discussion board online. Perhaps I’m just not feminist enough, but “you guys” is pretty much a generally accepted way of addressing a group of people of mixed or indeterminate gender—perhaps more so in certain regions of the country than others (like my particular region where we just say “y’all,” which I’m sure this lady would blast, too). And if it’s generally accepted in practice, then it’s just fine for informal writing, such as e-mail, texting, or online discussion forums.
Further, if you’re going to get up on your high horse and give this kind of response, at least have the decency to actually address the woman’s question.
Have you read my Disclaimer? If not, please do.