It’s getting out of hand.
Every time I attend a yoga class, workshop, or community event, I am bombarded with the phrase “You guys.”
Yes, I know “guys” is the colloquial term for a group of people—but I also know it is patriarchy in action. It is a manifestation of a sexist linguistic system that uses male nouns as normative, thereby reducing female nouns to other, to less than. By saying “you guys” to a room full of people, we are making the women in the room invisible and obsolete; we are minimizing their existence as compared to their male counterparts—even if the room is full of only women.
And that’s the real rub: most of the time, when I hear “You guys,” the majority of people in the space are women.
In a time of #MeToo, intersectionality, and Women’s Marches why are we, members of the yoga community, continuing to discredit who we are by relying on the language taught to us by a sexist educational, political, religious, and social system? Aren’t we better than that? Aren’t we agents of change working to manifest equality and harmony among people?
Because if we are all of those things, and I believe we are, then continuing to divide our world through gender binaries is something we need to stop. Right now.
Stop calling out, “you guys are so beautiful,” “I love seeing all of you guys on your mats tonight,” and “you guys are the reason I teach.” I am beautiful, I am happy to be on my mat any evening I can be, I love finding a teacher who inspires students and is inspired by students, and I am not a guy. I am tired of being called “guy,” I am tired of being labeled male, and I am tired of having my gender identity ignored and discredited during my yoga practice.
Each time I step on my mat, I appreciate the time and effort it took to get there—for me, for the teacher, for my community. Yet it seems like every time I step on my mat, I am also forced to deal with sexism. And it’s got to stop.
Luckily, stopping is easy. Especially when there are so many lovely alternatives to “You guys.” Consider some of these well known terms: friends, people, folks, y’all, community, yogis, everybody, and everyone.
So please yogis, I beg you: stop with the sexism. Stop reinforcing patriarchy. Stop making people feel invisible. Stop using “You guys.”
Author: Rachel Silverman
Image: Geert Pieters/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron