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Minerva’s Breakdown: Advice for those on the verge - The Dude Does Not Abide

Dear Minerva:

A friend and I are having a disagreement about using the word “Dude” to refer to people. She thinks it is the height of tacky and I think it is fine because language has relaxed. Settle this for us.


The Dude

Dear D.,

“Dude” has become so ingrained in our language that some people use it so frequently, and incorrectly, to address people. Here is where it gets sticky. “Dude,” whether you like it or not, is a casual and gendered term. There’s a good chance that people who aren’t close with you may find a certain level of discomfort being your “dude.” Female identifying people are likely to abhor it and it doesn’t really take into consideration the identity of the people to whom you are referring. Growing up, this country girl wasn’t allowed to describe a person as a “dude” because in farm life, it referred to a rather painful and unsightly infected hair on an animal. The history of “dude” is steeped in reference to male presenting people, even being used pejoratively toward ”city slickers” and women who dressed in a masculine fashion, offending the sensibilities of the time. Here’s the deal - if you’re close with someone and they have no qualms with being “duded,” go for it. Save it for your besties and never use it in a formal or professional environment where overly familiar language is not becoming. “The Dude” may “abide” it, but there are a lot of us who will not.

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