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A survey just for the ladies for everyone!

Originally this was just for the ladies, and so far we’ve had a lot of great responses. SO many, in fact, that I’d like to open it up to the guys. I’m a curious person, I can’t help it — I want to know how the men’s answers will differ from the women’s.

Thank you to the 540 people who filled out the previous survey, which I am now going to close. I’ve created one more, this time just for the female contingent. Guys (MALE guys), please do me a big favor and don’t fill this out. Ladies, (uh, FEMALE ladies), please do me an even bigger favor and take your time answering these 11 questions. It’s a bit more in-depth than the last survey, but I’m hoping it will go a long way toward helping us improve Skepchick and the skeptical community as a whole.

Click here to take the survey, and thank you, ladies everybody!

Oh, and if you know of any skeptics who might want to help, feel free to forward it to them.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. It's always bugged me, the use of "guys" as a term for a group of men, or for a group of men and women. Almost as sexist as using "he" for the generic singular pronoun. How about "folks" when you mean a group of people, and reserving "guys" for a group of men?

  2. Well, the more common usage blurs the meaning to the point where it isn't male-specific, one could argue that the word becomes less sexist.

  3. "Guy" has become almost unisex. Chromosomes make you male or female. But only belching and swearing can make you a guy. Maybe that's a regional thing, but that's the way I've encountered it in the past few years.

  4. I honestly never thought too much about it, although I see your point, Joshua. My grandmother used to complain about young servers at restaurants calling her and her family "guys," but, believe me, she was coming from entirely the opposite perspective of feminism. Funny how the old attitudes overlap the modern ones sometimes, isn't it?

  5. Interesting how I have no problem referring to a group of my girlfriends as "guys", but would never refer to any one of them as a "guy". It seems to only work in plural for us ladies.

  6. Heck, if you ever watch that Food Network show with Michael Chiarello (sp?), he refers to inanimate things with NO gender/sex as "guys." Such as pots and pans, or bits of garlic cooking in olive oil. Pretty much EVERYTHING, really.

    He also starts cooking everything about two weeks in advance, but I guess that's even less relevant to this conversation than my first point.

  7. "You guys" is especially prevalent in the Northeast. I use it all the time. In Texas it was 'y'all', which is gender neutral, but I've never been able to completely shake "you guys," which is fine with this female. I don't get gender-hyper with language.

    I do prefer the singular they instead of he or she or he/she in general text. It sounds better and directs no gender image in the reader.

  8. I've always found the term "girls" being used to describe adult women to be rather creepy. Why are grown women trying to pass themselves off as teens or younger?

  9. Please note that I've now opened up the survey to everyone! Thanks to all the women who responded thus far, your answers have been illuminating, inspiring, and incredibly cool.

  10. Huzzah, I've responded!

    As for the language discussion going on here: English is not a strongly-gendered language, unlike the Romance languages. (Or many others.) There's a lot of built-in ambiguity, and it's been generally accepted practice for a long time that "they" is a gender-neutral pronoun. Originally, of course, it was the third person plural, but as basically the only gender-neutral pronoun in the language, its role has expanded somewhat to the point where it's acceptable as a third-person singular, though only when gender-ambiguity is implied from context.

    I think the development of "guys" has gone the same way, and it's interesting to me that it also started life as a third-person plural pronoun. This might also be an influence from some of the languages out there which are strongly gendered, where the masculine is the "default" gender. (This is the sticking point with "sexist" pronouns.)

    While I get the complaint, it's simple fact that English, as a weakly-gendered language, just doesn't consider this sort of thing to be a big deal. So while "guy" is a traditionally masculine word, there's no rule that says it has to be masculine. It could just as easily be neuter if tradition changes. This is in opposition to other languages like French or Classical Latin (which is what I'm familiar with), where gender is a vital part of the language and affects things like what adjectives can modify the pronoun. Of course, in those cases, you generally do have an explicit third-person neuter pronoun in both the singular and plural. Sometimes more than one to cover different uses of the pronoun.

    But I guess the issue is really with the second-person plural. And that, I think, clears up the ambiguity between "guy", masculine noun, which is pluralised as "guys", versus "guys" as a second-person plural pronoun. Which is in itself distinct from "the guys", where it's more a third-person plural, but here again the use of the definite article separates it from the noun usage.

    Shorter version of all that: English is a complete clusterfuck.

    And since I've rambled on quite incoherently at this point, I'll just conclude by saying that, despite all that crap I just said, I'm personally quite fond of using "y'all" even though I'm not from the South.

  11. English may be a complete clusterfuck, but that's what I find to be so interesting about the language. There are forms of English that are considered Proper, and therefore confer a status of respectability for such use, but there are so many varieties of English around the world that it is fascinating how the language changes, develops and evolves. But still we are able to understand each other with a great deal of ease. Different varieties will have elements that are initially incomprehensible to speakers of other varieties, but can be fairly easily understood from context or with little explanation.

    As to "you guys", I agree that through usage it has become gender-neutral, though from a feminist perspective I have some concern that it was a word that originally referred to males that became gender-neutral. There is still a male bias in language use. For instance, "you gals" would be just as valid as "you guys" as a gender-neutral plural, but the language hasn't evolved to adopt such usage.

    Whereas "you guys" has fairly easily been adopted to refer to a group of women, to refer to a group of men as "you gals" would be considered rather offensive, an attack on their masculinity. To even refer to a mixed-sexed group as "you gals" would be considered a feminisation of the men, and thus offensive. However, referring to such a group as "you guys" masculinises the females, or simply ignores them in favour of the males. Such usage was acceptable, and through such use was consequently adopted to refer to a group of females. The feminine remains subordinate to the masculine.

    As to y'all, being an Australian I grew up with youse being the plural form of you, but I have adopted y'all. As a teenager I spent a year in Tennessee on student exchange. Over that year my accent changed and I picked American word usage. When I got back to Australia I fairly quickly reverted back Australian English usage, except for y'all. Even now, 17-odd years later, I still use it. And it's not because I consciously chose to adopt it. Indeed, I tried to stop myself from using it (dreaded Americanism ;-} ), but it became embedded in my normal usage. Now, it doesn't bother at all. Sometimes I'll be aware that I'm saying y'all (most of the time I'm not) and I'll smile to myself. I like it. Language is a wonderful thing.

  12. Well, in Dutch we have " U " for addressing both the singular and plural second-person. (And of course, when pronounced in English, it sounds like "you"). The only difference is that in Dutch this is the polite form. There's also a more colloquial form (which is also gender neutral).

    As for the third-person plural, There's only one form, and oddly enough, it's the same as the female singular third-person form. There is no "male" equivalent, not even in colloquial speach.

  13. Ahem, speaking on behalf of the South I propose we drop "guys" and use "y'all." It's second person plural, and it's gender neutral. Also, y'all must start eating grits and take a glass of mint joulep on the porch in the evenin'.

    Look, it's that, or we have to start using "ye" again.

  14. As a Philadelphian, I will continue to use "youse" as my preferred second person plural pronoun.

    "Youse guys!" will apply regardless of gender.

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