UPRIZINE was founded in 2017, aiming to create conversation and raise awareness surrounding intersectional issues at Temple University Japan through opinion pieces, creative writing, and occasionally, informative journalism. It is run by students and for students, through the TUJ Zine Club. 

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  • Anonymous

Not My Grandfather


“Honey,

sweetie,

baby,

could you turn around?”

When in-class group discussions begin with being referred to by words like honey, my mind has the tendency to go blank for a second, before I could go back to focusing on what I am suppose to be talking about (was it racism in baseball cards?). I don’t want to go through the trouble of saying “I’d prefer it if you didn’t call me that” because I only have to see this man, who is a stranger and merely a few years older than me, twice a week, and I don’t want to risk offending him.

But there’s something about these words that are used to address me, that make me feel very uneasy. They remind me that to him, I am a woman first, not another classmate. A nudge down for me, a skip up for him.

These words do not sexualize me, but they belittle me. I feel small. Less respected.

I cannot think of an equivalently gendered term that could be used to refer to men, in public. Maybe, Sir - but that has different connotations attached to it. Power. Authority. Dominance.

When did I lose the ability to dictate the words which I respond to?

I’ve been asked, “what if the male student didn’t know your name?”

To this, I say “excuse me” is nice and neutral, and would have sufficed.

Casual sexism? Cultural insensitivity? (Correct me if I am wrong), but I feel like not all American women like being called sweetie in class. 日本語でも英語と同じく、授業中に知らない男子生徒から「可愛い子ちゃん」って呼ばれたら嫌だけどね。

What saddens me, is that when I refuse these “words of endearment” from men I do not know, I only have the ability to reject them as a personal preference, not the use of the words towards women in the classroom environment altogether. I shouldn’t have to personally object to something so sexist.


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