I’m supposed to value the opinion a man has of me. That if he doesn’t like my Facebook post and picture on Instagram, he’s just not that into me. And if he really likes me he’ll call me names like babe and angel. But the time of being a compliant woman to these belittling terms of endearment is over. Opinions will be voiced and people will be made to feel uncomfortable, but out of this discomfort a new mind-set needs to be born – one that declares endearments and praises that are not inherently belittling of women. One that’s not a backhanded compliment. The time to speak out, inform and share our experience is now. And this is one such story…..
“Princess”, he calls me. My body gives a slight shiver. Not from delight or excitement about this, dare I say it – compliment. But I shiver from unease, from the way that the word grates against values buried deep inside of me.
I ask him to stop, tell him that I don’t like that particular pet name.
His reply is swift.
“Because it makes me uncomfortable”, I respond, wanting to move the conversation along to other talking points. I feel an odd urge to skirt around the elephant, to avoid the conversation that I know will follow.
“You’re a princess and I hope you find a knight on a white horse”, he continues.
I let those words soak in. Everything about the statement is wrong, the cliché line, the imagery. That one word – princess.
“I don’t need a knight”, I voice. The one statement I manage to express from the sea of opinions in my head.
“But you’re princess. All women are”, he says with finality.
“Women are whoever they want to be”, I counter as a conversation closer. I let it go because I decide that the opinions I will express will fall on deaf ears – like they have before, countless times.
I make the decision to walk away, as annoyed as I am, to bow out.
But I feel like I’m giving up and my annoyance peaks a tier higher. Why am I leaving the conversation feeling uncomfortable after I expressed my initial unease? Why is a guy okay with hearing but not listening to what I am saying? Like his term of endearment is something that should leave me blushing and smiling and fidgeting?
In the span of 5 seconds I realize that this is the moment. The moment that I take my opinions from social media to real life. That I do more that tweet and post about it on Facebook, that I personally speak to people who think it’s okay to place women in boxes and have those same women be okay with it.
I roll up my proverbial sleeves and say what no woman has clearly said to him before.
“You asked me why you can’t call me princess?”, I begin. “Simple. I’m not a damsel in distress unable to save myself. I’m not helpless, waiting to be rescued by a man. I am a strong, powerful woman who, given the opportunity, can save herself.”
Let’s just say the conversation quickly ended never to be brought up again.
So to men who call women “princes”. Stop.
We are not damsels in distress – we can rescue ourselves.
If anything, we are not consorts – we are Queens.
Why do women automatically assume a lesser status than men?
Why does society need metaphors and similes and euphemisms for the word woman?
Don’t call me princess or angel or diamond among the coals.
Call me by my name, because that’s who I am.
And if you’d like to compliment me call me intelligent and determined and ambitious and other adjectives that do not relate to looks and patriarchal status.
And if that makes you uncomfortable, then maybe it’s time for you to reflect on it.