Hi Guys …

I went to a meeting the other day. As I entered the doorway, I blurted out, “Good morning guys.”

One of my early thirties female colleagues shot back, “Do we look like guys?” as she waved her hand highlighting the all female group at the table.

I retreated and said, “Good morning girls.”

I received an icy stare accompanying the just as icy response, “Do we look like girls?”

So I revised the comment. “Ladies?” No response but a raised eyebrow, so, although in my mind it didn’t flow well, I offered “Women?” No change in expression from my colleague.

Finally, I sat down, put my notebook on the table and said, “Let’s start this  over. Good morning all.”

I bring this up because we baby boomers are at a complete loss when it comes to gender inclusive language and gender identification. In our day, there were two genders … period. Roles were well defined. It was still a patriarchal world, although the seismic shift was acomin’. Men and boys were, well, men and boys salivating at the thought of a wardrobe malfunction and constantly in search for a quest. Women and girls were, women and girls demurely commanding the rules of engagement. Growing up, most families I knew had a stay at home mom and working dad.

That all started to change in the 60s and the demographics today show more and more one parent households, often single mothers trying to balance family and work. As the morality in the country changed, one of those moral compass points has been gender blending.

In full disclosure, I appreciate everyone for their contributions. I don’t look at gender as a qualifying or disqualifying attribute. I told my wife and daughters constantly they could do whatever they wanted to live a fulfilling life. There were no barriers if they were willing to work hard toward their goals.

I also realize life way back then was not all lollipops and unicorns. A lot of unspeakable things have happened over the past 60 years, especially for girls and women. The level of exploitation is horrific as we — despite the feminist movement — allow girls/women to once again be considered chattel.

It’s not just the male/female dynamic. A relatively new visit to gender identity has clouded issues even more. More and more we are seeing more than two boxes under gender. Call it whatever you want, but in my still sexist 60s mind there still remains just two genders, no matter how you try to mix and match them. The alternate lifestyles now are a cornucopia of letters, many of which I still can’t figure out.

To each his/her/it’s own, but I do take umbrage with the depiction of alternate lifestyles in the arts and media. Often, the — I don’t even know how to identify characters — token gay (?) is a caricature and alternate lifestyles are presented as the norm, rather than the minority it is.

Okay. Off the soap box. Back to the original thought about navigating the world of the sexes. Before being distracted, I was talking about approaching thinking and writing from two biologically different frames of reference.

Ironically, I — a male — chose to write my novella Heaven Shining Through and subsequent novel My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through through the eyes and mind of a woman. While for the most part, I think I captured the emotions through the story lines, I was reminded a few times I might have missed the mark. One reviewer, who liked Heaven Shining Through, commented she knew right away it was written by a male. As she explained, the sentence structure was a giveaway. “[E]verything was Point A to Point B to Point C and etc., with minimal breaks. Most (but not all, I will be the first to admit) women don’t have this structure, especially with the more emotional side of things. Even with it being a faster-paced story, there would be some side stops with emotion.” She added, a lot of the sentences were about the same length.”Women tend to have varying lengths of thoughts in their head, which usually translates into different sentence lengths.”

Another asked the question, “What is with all the descriptions of Sam’s outfits?”

And another opined, “For me, the excessive weepiness of your main character blatantly revealed the author’s gender. Barring some sort of hormonal imbalance, this is an unusual trait for women.”

It’s ironic because those reviewers — all women — missed my central point: the strength Samantha had, her inner strength, her resilience, her independence. I’ll concede Sam does a wee bit of weeping — an observation after living with my wife for over 40 years — but they were at seminal moments in the story … during arguments with her mother … when she broke up with her boyfriend … when they got back together and accepted his marriage proposal … when he died … during her grief stage … at other funerals and life events.

And I described Sam’s outfits in detail for a couple of reasons. First of all I had to research the fashion of the day. Second, I can’t count the number of times I ended up in the doghouse because I wasn’t observant to Karen’s new clothes or doo. Third, I’m still a man looking for that wardrobe malfunction.

Writing across genders is difficult. Navigating today’s quest for gender neutrality is difficult {I’d love to hear some female perspectives on this}. Or, as Karen would say, “Right brain, left brain.”

I say, God bless the differences.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: I find there are three stages in every great work of God: first it’s impossible, then it’s difficult, then it’s done. — Hudson Taylor

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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2 Responses to Hi Guys …

  1. Catherine Marcuccilli says:

    I personally view “hi guys” as inclusive. Your correction to “hi all” was a good correction. In the past, I used to say “come on guys” to tell my son and daughter at a young age to get going or move along. “Let’s go” would have been better in my situation. I’d be thankful that they openly indicated their dislike of the greeting directly to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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