Why this woman says people should never use 'guys' to address men and women

The greeting 'guys' is often used as a gender-neutral term

Chelsea Ritschel
Wednesday 01 August 2018 19:21 BST
Jane Garvey says never use 'hi guys' (Getty)
Jane Garvey says never use 'hi guys' (Getty)

The appropriateness of using the greeting “hi guys” when addressing a group of men and women is up for debate after a woman suggested people should “never” use it - because other, gender-neutral greetings are more inclusive of women.

BBC Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey started the conversation by suggesting the new “rule” on Twitter, where she wrote: “New rule- ‘Hi guys!!’ NEVER say this.”

The Radio 4 host then joked that the greeting is only appropriate if you are the “daringly informal guest speaker at the annual meeting of The Society of People Named Guy.”

In response to her suggestion, many people agreed with her stance - sharing their own issues with the use of the term.

The main issue with the informal greeting, as summed up by Garvey, is “I am not a guy.”

“Common parlance among the young isn’t it? Infuriatingly so, especially when used by waiters…” one person responded.

However, others reflected on their own use of the greeting - which they view as harmless.

“I think lots of us use this term in a totally generic non-harmful way,” one person wrote.

Another defended using guys, stating: “What would you say instead, humans? People? It’s not done out of ignorance or sexism, it’s done for the sake of simplicity. Language only works when common definitions are accepted by all, this is unproductive and absolutely absurd.”

According to Garvey, using the traditionally gender-neutral “people” is more appropriate when addressing a mixed group - a sentiment early stated by the Australian Diversity Council, who warned against the use of the terms “girls” and “guys” at work in 2016.

However, the Oxford Dictionary defines “guys” as “people of either sex,” and Oxford language professor Deborah Cameron previously said “If women want to be addressed as ‘guys’, I’m not going to tell them they’re betraying the feminist cause.

In a blog post on the subject, Cameron elaborated, suggesting that using guys as a greeting gives insight to the speaker’s broader grasp of the situation.

“You’re choosing your words to say something about how you see yourself, the person you’re talking to, the situation you’re in and the relationship between you,” she wrote, before stating that “guys” is “relaxed and friendly.”

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