Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Women and Diminutives

I hate when people call me Susie. Well, I hate when people call me Susie without my permission. OK, what I really hate is when someone calls me Susie after I have introduced myself as either Sue or Susan. To be fair, it also annoys me when people ignore the "Hi, I'm Sue Kerr" and call me Susan. It feels dismissive as well as presuming an intimacy that can't possibly exist if I just told you my name 20 seconds ago.

I'll avoid a long discourse on my personal name story because I'm about to flip to the other side of the coin.

It really irks me when I meet grown women who use a diminutive. I'm probably projecting about $2500 in therapist copayments onto them, but it just really gets under my skin. If you tell me your name is Candi with a heart over the i and we have to work on a project, I'm going to call you that and spell your name correctly in email, but I won't like it if I know your name isn't really Candi. If I know you have a choice and you choose the heart. It feels like you are selling the rest of us out. Like women who take their husbands married names. I know it is supposed to be about choices, but some choices seem more selfish than others, don't they?

Maybe I'm biased b/c I have multiple name options: my "real" name of Susan, my family/childhoold friend name of Susie and my everybody else in the world name of Sue. Plus, variations on those. I have a flexi-name. Not everyone is so blessed.

Or maybe I'm biased b/c I have been on the receiving end of people trying to dismiss or invalidate me by using the name Susie to reduce me from woman to girl. Too many times. Let's not even get into how many rock/pop songs about girls and boys named Sue have been crooned in my vicinity. Perhaps being on the receiving end makes me hyper-sensitive to this subtle tool/weapon.

Why did I bring this up? Just perusing the evening news and noting how many women have names ending in "y" or "ie" as opposed to the number of men going by Billy when talking with KDKA.

Plus, I went to college with a young woman nicknamed Muffin. I had to make doortags for someone named Muffin. It was scarring.

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