Guys vs. Gals: Should both be gender-neutral words?

Yes, I’ve probably written about this before. But it still rankles me when I hear women — some of them self-proclaimed feminists — referring to each other as guys, as in “Hey, guys, what’s up?” And no, they don’t self-identify as men.

Yet, if anybody dared to use the word “gals” instead of “guys” in that sentence, they would probably be accused of something . . .

I know women who resent being referred to as a “guy,” and if they speak up about it, other women shoot them down, as in “grow a pair, will you.”

So what exactly does all this mean? What do some women seem to be determined to masculinize all women with that word? And why is it they don’t see that they are masculinizing each other by using the word? Why is it so many women don’t mind being referred to as men?

Let’s face it: “Guys” is not really a gender-neutral word. It refers to males. It is being misappropriated. You might argue that language evolves, and its meaning has changed. And it is true that it is an “informal” word used to refer to both sexes.

But you wouldn’t see a newspaper report referring to women as guys, because it is not that informal.

Sigh . . . I know I am going to lose this battle, and that no matter my protestations, people will trample all over my views and feelings about this. Because, you see, that is what the patriarchy has been doing for so long to so many people.

Unless, of course, “gals” becomes a gender-neutral word and guys don’t mind being called that.

— Jillian

9 thoughts on “Guys vs. Gals: Should both be gender-neutral words?

      1. I find myself using “folks” a lot. Good old Anglo-Saxon word, not even a Latin import like “people.” (Yet, ironically, many of the words we speak and write are Latin imports, especially the “polite” words for certain body parts and functions. The “crude” words for those same parts are merely the old Anglo-Saxon ones. But that’s another post.)


  1. The meaning of words is not in the words themselves, but in the people using them and the context in which they are being used. When girls greet each other with “Hey, guys,” they’re not referring to each other in the masculine. Their use of the word “guys” in this context is gender-neutral. Language evolves with society, which is why it’s not uncommon to find an “archaic” definition of words in the dictionary, along with the word’s modern definition as it’s commonly used today.


    1. I understand this. But sometimes women don’t like to be referred to as “guys,” just as some LGBT people don’t like to be referred to as “queer.”

      But as I mentioned in my post, I know I will lose this particular battle.


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