“Your language is not inclusive.”
“You use terms that exclude a large group of people based on your idea of the gender binary.”
I’m sorry, what…?
Seriously people? Welcome to America: land of the free, home of the easily offended. And I mean really easily offended. And by easily offended, I mean that every other word in your daily vernacular will traumatize at least one person in your lecture hall – so be careful.
Shall we go through the entire English dictionary and hand pick out every damn word that offends people on college campuses? How about we pen a letter to Merriam-Webster urging the dictionary to remove words that make people feel triggered?
Or how about we all just grow up, build a bridge, and GET OVER IT.
Perhaps you need some background before you hop on the freedom of speech train. Fine.
For the sake of providing sufficient background to my argument, I will provide you with a hypothetical situation which may or may not have happened to me in my class. I’m sitting in my section for an upper division Sociology class and everyone is discussing the need for a better educational system—you know, the usual. Everyone is giving incredibly valid points so I shoot my hand up in the air to add my two cents in to the conversation. That’s when it happened.
“I definitely agree with a lot of what you guys have said…”
I get cut off. The girl two rows over rolls her eyes, looks at me with disdain and proceeds to shun me in front of my entire section.
“You need to use more inclusive language when addressing a group of people because by saying ‘you guys,’ you are excluding a large group of people based on your notion of the gender binary.”
Woah, OK. Who knew that two little words so deeply engrained in my vernacular would cause such a raucous in my section.
Before I knew it, my embarrassment was overshadowed by a sea of snapping fingers. These snaps came from other classmates who, evidently, found my words to deeply offend them as well. (The whole snapping thing is another thing that we’ll discuss at a later point. Just freaking clap, people.)
“You guys,” I repeated in my head. “You guys,” I thought again. Sure, ‘guys’ is a term primarily associated with the male gender. However, as a female, I have never felt excluded from any statement following ‘you guys,’ because it has become an all-encompassing term. I know that when a person says ‘you guys,’ that they are addressing a group of people. Nobody is intentionally directing anything toward one gender or another. I don’t automatically assume the worst out of the innocent person who dared mutter the term ‘you guys’ in front of another easily offended individual. Instead, I use my common sense and put two and two together. You + guys = everyone in the target audience of whatever is about to be said. You guys, much like y’all in Texas, is a term used in the United States to direct a group’s attention to something. That group may encompass men, women, and anyone in between.
I realize that just because I don’t identify with the male gender does not mean that I was not included in the statement that was followed by ‘you guys.’ Please do recognize that this is different from the time that you were not included in your classmate in kindergarten’s Spiderman-themed birthday party. That was an example of a time in which you weren’t included in something – you weren’t invited. When someone says ‘you guys,’ they aren’t excluding anyone. Recognize the difference. I recognize that nobody is trying to exclude me, or any other gender for that matter when they say ‘you guys.’ You should too!
Further, by calling me out because you were offended with how I preceded my statement, you are depriving the other students in the classroom from listening to my incredibly valid viewpoint on the current educational system in America just because you didn’t like what I had to say. My opinions are just as important as your opinions are. Don’t belittle my opinions just because you can’t handle my vernacular.
Be smart, you guys. There are so many things happening in our world today that need the amount of attention that you dedicate to petty words and word choice. Direct your attention where it’s necessary, please.
Lastly—this one’s novel, you guys—quit being so damn childish. The difference between you crying because you weren’t invited to that kindergarten birthday and you feeling like you weren’t included in a conversation because of the words that were used is 15 years. Within 15 years, you should’ve learned when to get upset with something and when to get over it. Also, in 15 years, you should’ve learned that the term ‘you guys,’ refers to a group of people and is all-inclusive.
Rant over. Hannah out.