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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Does it matter that women get misgendered

279 replies

mariamin · 20/03/2015 11:50

Women get misgendered by being called guys all the time.

OP posts:

YonicScrewdriver · 20/03/2015 11:57

Well, as I previously posted, I try to use folks and I think that is better!


ChoochiWhoo · 20/03/2015 11:58

All the time? depends on the individual i suppose


BeyondDoesBootcamp · 20/03/2015 12:03

Ah, very good point. I use 'guys' a lot, this had never occured to me!


ErrolTheDragon · 20/03/2015 12:04

I work for an American company, the use of 'guys' as a gender-neutral collective noun is commonplace there. I use it that way myself sometimes.

Looking in an american dictionary one of the definitions is ' person —used in plural to refer to the members of a group regardless of sex '

So I tend to think this is one of those words that's in the process of evolving away from being a gendered term, and on balance I think that's a good thing.


JeanneDeMontbaston · 20/03/2015 12:06

Yes, I think it matters, insofar as it exposes the expectation that man is default. I think it's something we don't always notice in English because it's habitual, but not part of the grammatical structure (as it is in French). Of course, French could stop using 'ils' as default for any group including men tomorrow, if people fancied it, and use whichever. Languages evolve. But people don't think about that possibility very much.

However, on the non-linguistic level, I am not sure it should matter. I don't like being misgendered because I know that someone who calls me a man is either ignoring me (man as default) or trying to insult me (because our culture thinks being mistaken for the opposite sex is offensive). But, ideally, I would very much like to live in a world where there was no need to refer to concepts such as gender at all.


mariamin · 20/03/2015 12:28

Errol - but terms that are used to refer to women and men, are always male in origin. I can't think of one term that has ever been used to refer to both sexes, that is female in origin.

OP posts:

ErrolTheDragon · 20/03/2015 13:00

Yes, I was thinking that exact same thing after posting. I'm still inclined to think that the ungendering of such words may be a good thing, but the fact that they all seem to start as male and are easily adopted as default is obviously due to the bad starting point of our culture.


EElisavetaOfBelsornia · 20/03/2015 13:14

I think it matters, because it implies that women don't belong in that context. I had to argue repeatedly for months to be called the 'Chair' of an organisation 20 years ago, and not 'Madam Chairman'. None of the men would fucking agree to do the work of chairing, but they wanted a title which stated that chairing is usually done by men. 'Guys' isn't something I use - usually 'colleagues' or 'people' instead.


alexpolistigers · 20/03/2015 13:16

Jeanne On the linguistic front - I often use the neuter pronoun in Greek. This is possible because the words 'boy', 'girl' and one of the words for 'person/ people' are all neuter. Wink


JeanneDeMontbaston · 20/03/2015 13:22

Nice. Smile


ErrolTheDragon · 20/03/2015 13:25

The 'madam chairman' nonsense is very different, I think, because that's clearly exclusive and emphasising difference. Whereas 'guy' in the way I now find it being used by Americans really is inclusive and neutral.


ErrolTheDragon · 20/03/2015 13:26

Envy Greeks.


EElisavetaOfBelsornia · 20/03/2015 13:30

It's meant to be inclusive, but it uses a word which can also be used solely for a group of men, and would not be used for a group of only women. A colleague of mine uses 'chaps' for mixed groups, and it's the same principle - the default position is male. Or am I missing some thing?


ErrolTheDragon · 20/03/2015 13:36

The first time I can remember hearing it used by an American colleague, thinking of who might have been around it may well have been an all-female group. And I'm sure I've heard it used that way since. Pretty sure that my exercise DVDs - which are aimed at women and often refers to 'ladies' sometimes uses 'guys' too.

This may not be common in the UK yet... I think I've heard my DD using it in relation to school friends (all girls school).


StillLostAtTheStation · 20/03/2015 23:22

Guys is an irritating Americanism. I don't use it and I dislike it a lot.


Raconteurs · 21/03/2015 07:30

I have always worked for American companies (but in the UK). I would use guys to refer to a group of women, men or a mixture of the two.


BeyondDoesBootcamp · 21/03/2015 09:56

I definitely use it for just women, i use it a lot here!

Agree though, its the concept of male is normal and female as 'other'. So yes, same as chaps. Like people being "mankind" - encompassing men and women, or "womankind" which is female only?


StillLostAtTheStation · 21/03/2015 10:03

A colleague of mine uses 'chaps' for mixed groups

I've heard "chaps and chapesses" which I like. It's infinitely preferable to "guys".?


StillLostAtTheStation · 21/03/2015 10:28

Didn't mean to add a question mark there.


ChopperGordino · 21/03/2015 10:38

Ew no, "chaps and chapesses" reminds me of a slimy restaurant manager when I was waiting staff.


StillLostAtTheStation · 21/03/2015 10:54

I find "guys" when used by a man slimy and when used by a woman a bit desperately chummy.


Trills · 21/03/2015 10:59

I don't think being called "guys" is mis-gendering. I understand misgendering to be when the person saying it believes you to be (or treats you as) the "wrong" gender. People saying "guys" to a mixed group aren't doing that.

A discussion about collective nouns is interesting though, and its true that they are always male in origin.

Because for a woman to be included with "the men" is a positive, a step up, whereas for a man to be included with "the women" is a negative, an insult.


BeyondDoesBootcamp · 21/03/2015 11:04

Nice to know i've been coming across well Grin


HermioneWeasley · 21/03/2015 11:05

I use "guys" for my all women team. I have once had a woman object to it and tried to use "folks" or "people" instead. I don't regard it as misgendering - I'm not confused about their sex or trying to call them men. When I refer to my "kids" I'm not confused about whether or not they are actually goats, and people don't assume I have two unruly infant goats at home - the meaning is clear.


YonicScrewdriver · 21/03/2015 11:08

Beyond, humankind is an option?

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