Coming from suburban Wichita, I used to use the phrase “you guys,” a lot.
I remember as a server at the small Mexican restaurant in Haysville, I used the term to re-fer to groups of men, women and even one gender non-conforming person.
The phrase is used wildly throughout the U.S., and for people in customer service, it can be a catch-all. But, you might be doing more harm than you think.
“You guys” is inherently masculine, as well as most of the English language, with words like “congressmen,” “mankind” and “manpower” that exclude half of humanity. What else could you mean by using the singular, “guy?”
In an article by “The Atlantic,” it explains that in professional business industries, the phrase can make women feel not includ-ed in the conversation, indicating that the men in the room are the only ones worth mentioning.
For transgender and gender non-conforming folk, “you guys” can cause dysphoria and flash-backs to their previous identity.
Some argue that the greeting has evolved into something gender-neutral, and there are many women who don’t seem to mind. But consider this good ol’ fashioned Southern alternative: “y’all.”
It's smooth, rolls off the tongue like the butter used in grandma’s biscuits, and, most importantly, inclusive.
But if these consequences are true, then why don’t we use “y’all” now? It has to do with professionalism.
Critics say any use of “y’all” could cause a loss of professionality in a business meeting, and since guys is quite ingrained in our lexicon, it’s unlikely we’ll see a dramatic shift anytime soon.
That’s not a reason to not use it, however.
“You guys” can shatter queer identity and make women invisible. It's important to focus on the consequences of the language that we use. Using "y'all" might not be the absolute best alternative, but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Put on that southern, sub-urban Haysville charm and use “y’all” instead.