guys != gender neutral

Jo Rhett jrhett at
Thu Sep 27 18:10:09 UTC 2012

On Sep 27, 2012, at 9:20 AM, Jim Mercer wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 12:12:50PM -0400, Patrick W. Gilmore wrote:
>> Many.  Although in fairness, some people use "guys" in a gender-neutral manner.
> some people use it in a globally-neutral manner.
> "those guys over there" pointing at a rack full of servers.

Guys seem to think that it's gender neutral. The majority of women are used to this, but they have indicated to me that they don't believe it to be very neutral. Using "guys" is not gender neutral, it's flat out implying the other gender doesn't matter. *

Given the lack of truly neutral terms in english, I have taken to alternative my pronouns interchangably when I write.
  "Those guys are chewing on that, but these gals are doing the vector calculations." (pointing at different racks of gear)

Or when actually referring to persons of mixed gender, here's a quote from something I posted in a private forum (my own journal) which is safe for export:

> Because frankly, we're all in this together and honestly everyone loves the competition. The guys I race with often come find me afterwards and tell me where they got past me, or ask me how I kept passing them. The really fast girls rarely want more than a beer to go out on the track and give you a detailed breakdown on what you are doing wrong. We all help each other.

In this situation I'm leaving it up the reader to grasp that I'm not saying that the girls are all faster than the boys, but I believe it's understood in context as the topic was about how peers help each other out.

I really wish that english had better pronouns for this.

* As evidence of the nasty side effects of this, the bible was translated from a language which understands gender neutral terms to english, and was in translating reduced it to "man". Which is now used by only-english-speaking preachers to justify the "proper placement" of women in society.

If for no other reason than that the use of a single gender pronoun confuses less intelligent types to assume that women aren't important in technology (and god knows this completely baseless assumption is widely held) do your part to mix it up!

Jo Rhett
Net Consonance : net philanthropy to improve open source and internet projects.

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