If, we're to take the admonitions of our grammar school days seriously, "hey" is an inappropriately informal way to address someone. And yet, the term "Hey Ladies," appears in my inbox, at present moment, exactly 1267 times.
That's 1267 times an email last year contained the words "Hey Ladies," in succession. Now, I don't take any issue with its formality or lack thereof. In fact, I am a rather informal emailer. I've sent emails to strangers with greetings like, "UM HI." (The response rate to "UM HI," is 100% if you're wondering.)
So no. It's not the "hey" I struggle with. It's the "ladies." Which, might seem odd considering I work and champion the work of women. Ladies. HEY LADIES! And yet...
"Hey Ladies," irks me. I don't like being called a lady. It feels diminutive to me, like I am somehow reduced or reducing the woman on the receiving end of my email stick to gender. But my solution thus far is not any better. Some might even say, it's worse.
If you're asking just what I use when addressing multiple women on an email chain? The answer is this: "Hey Guys."
"Hey guys, following up on this!" "Hey guys, me again." "Hey guys, hey hey hey."
The issue is, if I'm truly, really, all of the honest about why I use it, it's because "guy" in my mind is gender neutral. "Lady" is girly and pink and all of the "things" about my "gender" that I've never quite identified with. "Lady" is the hug I'm super uncomfortable giving you when we first meet. (I'm a handshaker OK?) It's the smiley face and the exclamation point I don't want to use, but do.
The bigger issue is-- it's not those things. Not even close. Instead, my stomp-my-email-yard refusal to address women as women, plays into the idea that a woman needs to be "one of the guys," "can hang like the guys," etc., in order to be cool. To succeed. To get ahead.
"Hey ladies," to me, is an insult. "Hey guys," is praise. And UGH to my thinking this. I'm sorry. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. It's upsetting to me that it's taken me this long to figure it out. I know that my "hey guys," is is giving power to the concept that a “guy” is more powerful than a “lady.”
Categorically untrue. And I will adjust my correspondence as such. Hey, better late than never?