So, in the renewed spirit of gender equality with the recent progresses made by the #metoo movement, I’m trying to figure out the most appropriate thing to say when addressing a group of women.
See, last week I was getting a haircut; the staff on shift was all women. My stylist laid a hot towel on my neck and instantly I caught myself before I blurted out, “Oh, I forgot you guys did that.” Instead, I edited myself to be more true, but what actually came out was “Oh, I forgot you folks did that.” She guffawed at my use of the word “folks” because who the hell actually uses that word non-ironically?
So my question: is it okay to use “gals” instead of “guys”? My problem is that “Guys” is masculine and not gender-neutral. “Gals” is condescending. “Y’all” or “Folks” or “You” is too provincial. Is it okay to use “ladies” or “gals” or “women” when addressing a group of women? Is that a safe thing to do? Or should I just buck up and say what I feel is right anyway and take my lumps?
I know the romance/latin languages use the masculine pronouns and conjugations even in gender-neutral or mixed-gender contexts. Is that still appropriate here in English? I just don’t feel right walking up to a counter and greeting the women there with “Hey guys, what’s up?” You know? What gives?
It’s particularly vexing to me when I see a friend or family member say or post something that puts down “the gays”. It paints a broad brush stroke over a whole group of humans and robs a piece of their dignity.
I’m not gay…but I’m also not straight. I’m open-minded. The sort of talk above exasperates me to hear, because what if the love of my life isn’t some heteronormative female? What if I completely switch teams? What if I love lots of different kinds humans all at the same time? Then that brush would paint over me as well.
In my younger days, I used to make jokes about fat chicks, and it always confused me how many physically fit women within earshot would fire back their disapproval of my jokes. My thinking at the time was “well, you’re not fat, so why do you care?” The answer is that anyone can become fat, and then the jokes would cover them as well.
It’s just bad form to put down a group of people because of what they are and what they do. That’s weak sauce; lowest-common-denominator talk show monologue humor, even on its best day.
Please consider what you say and how it lifts up or puts down those who know you. We affect each other in ways we may yet understand.
Those who say men are better at visual-spacial tasks have never seen women compete in rhythmic gymnastics. The way these ladies handle the apparatus — hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon — proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are just as capable as men, and are equals. This requires just as much proprioceptive capability as aiming a ball at a a goal.
That being said, the United States did not have a contestant in the rhythmic gymnastics competition in Rio Olympics this year, and that’s regrettable. However, girls who have the training and skills in these apparatuses have a handful of venues in the U.S. to use these skills: marching band feature twirlers; alt-music stage performers; Burning Man (and regional burns); fire spinning; side shows; travelling circuses; etcetera.
So don’t tell me women can’t navigate through space as well as men. That’s just incorrect.
What would you do?
You’re at the cafe, head out to your car. You notice the cute girl you previously saw inside the cafe out by her car a few stalls down from your own. She’s monkeying around in the dark near her front tire. You notice she’s moving her foot up and down like she’s stepping on an air pump. You remember that you have an electric pump in the trunk of your own car. What do you do?
The correct answer is that you do nothing at all. She has a pump and a gauge and is fully aware of what she’s doing and doesn’t appear helpless at all. So leave her alone already.
It bothers me immensely that I had to have this conversation with myself as I left the cafe. The dude-bros in my past social groups would’ve punched me for turning down the opportunity to make a new friend by being the white knight coming in with sword swinging to defend the helpless damsel. The ladies in my past social groups would’ve thrown acid at me for being a chauvinist pig who hit on a girl who didn’t actually need my help.
Really, once I was able to take in enough of the scene to sense what was going on, I determined then and there that she was doing well enough without me. If I passed up an chance to connect with another human who happened to be the opposite gender, I don’t care. Move along now.
That’s the crux of gender equality, isn’t it?
I absolutely hate musicals. They’re always uncomfortable. Same as if someone is singing and they’re singing directly at me: I have no idea how to handle it.
But after 13 years, I finally took the opportunity to rent the 2001 gender-bending musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. Dammit, this is a good musical.
There’s a delicious message in the metaphor that we’re all unbelievably split in twain and we’re trying like hell to find out other half, no matter who or what they are. It’s a hopeful idea. I could stand to have a little more hope in my life.