Culture

Charging People $1 for Saying ‘You Guys’ Doesn’t Go Far Enough

It's time we start taking serious issues seriously.

Today I was encouraged to see a headline that promised to explain why it’s so important for people to stop using the sexist phrase “you guys” — only to be disheartened to find that the author was yet another person who just didn’t understand how serious this issue really is.

In the article, Vox staff writer Jenée Desmond-Harris praised an initiative at the tech startup “npm,” where participating employees put a dollar in a jar every time they said the phrase “you guys.”

That’s right — “participating.” It’s not even mandatory! Oh, and the stakes — one measly dollar?

After all, the phrase “you guys” is incredibly harmful — constantly reminding me that I live in a society where male-dominated slang is invisibly yet certainly oppressing me and keeping me from achieving my hopes and dreams. As soon as I hear it, my whole day is ruined. I can’t focus at work, I can’t eat, and I can’t sleep — at least not without a meditation exercise where I breathe deeply and recite the day’s Jezebel headlines to myself as a reminder that there are at least some reasonable people in this crazy world.

#related#If that tech company really wanted to support social justice, it would make the people who use the phrase face consequences as serious as the phrase itself creates — docking their pay, making them ineligible for upcoming promotions, that kind of thing. At the very least, make them sit in offices alone by themselves where they can’t hurt other people. Offices should be safe spaces, not ones women are hesitant to enter because they’re afraid they’ll have to hear abusive language.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I saw some of the suggested replacements for the phrase. One of them? “Guys and girls.” Yeah, that’s right. Apparently we’re all either guys or girls now!

Oh, sure, let’s get rid of a patriarchal phrase and instead replace it with one that perpetuates the outdated and oppressive gender binary! Yeah, great idea! (#Not!)

Ugh. I try not to complain too much, but people these days are just so ignorant that I literally can’t even.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.

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