The Diversity Council of Australia launched a new campaign Wednesday aimed at eliminating exclusionary and offensive language from the workplace. Some say they have gone a little too far.
It’s hard to quibble with the suggestion that words like poofter and retard have no place at work. And sexist double standards for “ball-breaking” women are clearly retrograde. But there’s also this, guys: These guys want you guys to stop saying guys.
In an interview discussing the campaign on ABC News Breakfast, former Australian chief of army David Morrison and the man spearheading this campaign said he’s removed the word from his vocabulary “as best I can.” Words like guys and other “gender-based language,” he said, have “as much deleterious or disadvantaged affects as if you’re saying blatantly inappropriate things to another human being.”
Even guys, though? It’s hard to believe that using that word to address a mixed-gender group, or even a group of women, is akin to calling them all a bunch of “bitches.” As one language expert who generally supports the campaign told Australia’s ABC News, “the meaning of guys has changed to include males and females.” Even Merriam-Webster agrees.
So do some of the guys (all women) who work at our sister site, the Cut. “I understand intellectually why it’s not good, but I also really like having a casual group salutation,” one Cut writer said after an impromptu Slack survey. Others agreed and said they’d much rather have a guy call them “guys” than the dreaded “ladies” or, even worse, “females.” Take note, Michael B. Jordan.
So, guys, it looks like Morrison and the Diversity Council screwed up. Including guys on their list of words to avoid has only served to discredit the whole campaign, which is actually making a worthwhile point. Just look at these dicks: