In today's society we are not always aware of the offensive things said to us women. We have become so desensitized to the oppression in the workplace and in everyday life. I am not advocating for every woman, because I know women can speak for themselves, and I am not saying that you must be a feminist and fight back. All I am doing is sharing my experiences and how I have thought nothing of them because that is just the way things go. But as I am growing older and taking more classes, I am being shown that what is happening is actually not okay. I went to an all-girls private school with the boy’s division right across the quad. Despite what some people think, it was really fun. I never had to worry about having to look on point every day or be afraid of answering questions that I might not know. Everyday there was at least one girl singing in the halls and I knew every girl in my class.
My senior year I took a 20th Century History course and I had a really great teacher who challenged us to really think about what was happening in our lives. I remember the first day of class he had us introduce ourselves and if we started our introductions with "You can just call me..." he would stop us and say, "You are not just anything. You are more than that." He also taught us that even when a man calls you sweetheart or honey at the workplace, he is showing his superiority over a woman by calling her such unprofessional pet names. You do not see a male worker calling his other male coworkers those pet names in conversation, they instead address each other by their names. That is when I first started to become aware of the things that happen to me, just because I am a woman.
When I started my job, I worked in Customer Service, and there was only two men who worked in that department, one of them being my manager. I remember talking to one of the male managers about how I do not want men to call me sweetheart or any other pet name because that is not appropriate for a workplace. Instead of acknowledging and respecting my opinion about it, he started jokingly calling me the names I specifically told him I was not comfortable with. At that time, I realized that people do not understand how calling a woman pet names truly affects them, heck I did not even realize that until someone pointed it out to me. Of course my male supervisor also did not realize the impact of what seems like such a small thing because he never had to deal with something like that. Society has become so used to accepting these forms of oppression and I grew up accepting these stereotypes placed on me just because I am a young, blonde, woman. Here is my message to others: Do not call me sweetheart because I am a young woman. Do not treat me as if I do not know what I am talking about just because I am a blonde woman. I have worked just as hard, if not harder, to make good grades and to get into my top choice of college. I have aspirations to be the best I can be, yet I do face moments of insecurity because I feel like I am not good enough or smart enough to reach my full potential. I am not blaming men for this, yet I wonder if I did not grow up with media or important figures that say a woman cannot be president or must be "perfect" in order to catch men's eyes, then would I still have these uncertainties? My mom showed me that being a woman should not be a disadvantage; she was in the military for 33 years and retired as a Master Sergeant, she was a kickass soldier and did not let anyone tell her that she could not do anything she puts her mind to. She was also a great mother who was tender and encouraged all seven of us kids to reach for the stars and persevere in whatever we want. She showed me two sides of what a woman can be and although it may be hard, I try to follow in her footsteps and let no one stop me. I am more than a pet name, so do not call me sweetheart.