Not My Grandfather
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.