I really hate the way “Dude” has become so gender neutral in our terminology by some people but not by others. Because I know so many people who use “dude” for everyone but then about the same amount who only use it to mean men, so literally every time someone calls me dude it catches me and I…
Confession that will surprise nobody who’s ever talked to me for more than five minutes: I am super guilty of calling everyone “dude” and always have been. And sometimes “bro.” And this is one of the main reasons I try not to do it sometimes, ‘cause I hate the idea that I might accidentally (no matter how momentarily) hurt someone when what I’m meaning is, “Hey, you are a person I like and see as a friend and want to interact with as such.”
And it’s not like I can really count on everyone having known me long enough to: a) know that I am not much of a stranger to gender nonconformity personally, and b) see me call pretty much every female person I know “bro” and “dude” on a regular basis. (I’ve even kinda accidentally called my dude “bro” on multiple occasions and been informed that calling your romantic partner “bro” as a term of endearment is Weird and Frowned Upon.)
So, yeah. I don’t have a deep point here, just that it’s a thing I’ve thought about and haven’t managed to fix.
(Substituting “pal” actually ends up sounding a little aggressive, like you’re in an Edward G. Robinson gangster picture and you’ll punctuate the sentence by whipping out a tommy gun.)
(Also my dude once invented a character who tended to address everyone as “bro” and “lady-bro,” which I’m fairly sure may have been a commentary on me and my inability to navigate this lexical issue with any kind of grace.)
(I am generally graceless, dudes.)