This is an idea, rather a thought, that came to me while delivering the newspapers to the retail outlets this morning. It was during the airing of Rock 102 FM’s “Man Panel” (or, why men really are that dumb). I know the show is meant to be satire, and they do drop some funny stuff, even from time to time they get serious and deal with an issue or two.
However, a discussion today included the question, or the comment rather, that if it was a Ladies Panel, there would be no end to questions. As if women are this mysterious thing that Indiana Jones needs to dig up and display to the world, only to be foiled by Nazis, Commies or the U.S. Government (some, or all, might apply).
That description of “mysterious object” goes hand in hand with another discussion, which is problematic when we discuss women’s issues. Women are not objects. Tables, now those are objects. But we tend to treat women that way, and when we speak with them, very condescending language is used.
A prime example is using the word “Honey”. Yes, if you are speaking to your wife or any family member or a loved one, and they’ve been okay with it, then that’s fine. “Honey, have you seen my wallet.” “Honey, I’m going out to the store, do you need me to pick anything up?” Those two examples are perfectly normal, perfectly acceptable uses of the term “Honey”. It’s affectionate to someone that the speaker is very close to, whether that be romantically, as a relation or close friends.
But the term changes when it’s used with someone we don’t know very well. Case in point, we would not use the term (or at least, should not use the term) with some one who is a current or former head of state, someone who happens to be in authority, or an advisor. Can you imagine saying to former Canadian Governor General Michel Jean “Honey, we need to bolster our international relations”. If it was anyone but Jean’s husband, it could be taken as inappropriate and condescending.
There’s probably a lot of dudes out there thinking “but honey’s not like saying bitch”. No, you are right. Honey and bitch use different letters of the alphabet. But, based on the tone of voice, how the word is used, both can have the same affect. I could even use bitch in a positive light. “I’m a fabulous bitch”. Note, however, the term was used to describe me, and not directed at any one person. Bitch does also have a longer history of use as an insult. Even though it’s primary origin lay with the description of a female species of the canine families.
Still don’t get it? Here’s an analogy.
I live in Saskatchewan. That’s in Canada. We’re the flat province, the one that’s a big rectangle shape on the map. Our seasons vary up here. We have really hot summers and really cold winters. Our springs are vibrant with all the new life coming in, and our autumns are colourful with the change of leaves on the trees. We’ve also got something in common, every individual who totals among the 1,000,000 of the province’s population. We each know someone who lives in a much warmer climate year round. That one person who has never seen snow, or felt cold before. Conversations can usually go like this.
Southern Tropical Friend: “How are you doing today?”
Me: “Oh, fine. It snowed and the temperature dropped to -25 today. Hang on, lemme convert that for you from metric…”
STF: “No, no, that’s okay, I’m getting used to that.”
Me: “But yeah, had to shovel the car out and let it run for a bit to warm up.”
STF: “Wow! I’d really like to see snow sometime. I think it would be awesome. Anyway, it’s been sunny here and pretty mild. About 70 or 75. Not too hot, not too cool.”
STF: “You still there?”
Me: “Shut the fuck up!”
It’s the same type of tone. It’s condescending. When a person speaks to a woman and usually starts with “honey” or “darling” or some other cutesy thing, it speaks right away that the individual has no respect for the other person, and is using that as a way to derail.
Stop fucking saying it and start being more respectful when talking to women.