That's Not My Name

Hello. I’m Jade. I am not ‘sweetie, gorgeous, sexy, baby or darling’. If you don’t know my name, ask for it, otherwise ‘madam’ will do just fine. If I don’t know your name, I will either ask for it, or call you ‘madam’ or ‘mister’. My marital status is none of your concern. If I am talking to you in person, you can see that I am an adult female and therefore my title to you is ‘madam’. If I am talking to you on the phone, you can hear that I am adult female and therefore my title is still ‘madam’. It’s not difficult.
I was in my local with my best friend. Alone at the bar getting the drinks in, the barman called me ‘baby, beautiful and gorgeous’. This narked me not because I happened to look awful that night and was clearly neither beautiful nor gorgeous, but because this stranger was being so aggressively familiar with me. He later cleared the empty glasses from our table and saw that I was sitting with a man. He completely ignored me (the apparently ‘gorgeous, beautiful baby’), and instead focussed completely on my friend. He called him ‘mate’ and ‘boss’. I was invisible now that I was sitting opposite a man. His supposition was that my friend was my boyfriend, and so he stopped his ‘baby’ talk abruptly presumably when he realised he had no chance of getting laid. Funny thing is, at the time, I was single and completely up for dating. If he had been decent and pleasant and polite, he may have just possibly gone home with my number, but that’s beside the point. He wasn’t calling me ‘baby’ in order to woo me, he was doing it to undermine me. He wasn’t even looking me in the eye when he bestowed his derogatory ‘compliments’. No person should be called familiar pet names in a professional environment, and calling me gorgeous when (and I’m telling you) I really couldn’t have looked less gorgeous (even my mate commented politely that I looked ‘erm, tired’) is actually pretty insulting. Also, any healthy human eye could tell you I am not a baby (my blind friends can hear it in my voice, and they do not call me ‘baby’). I am an adult woman. To call me ‘baby’ insinuates that I’m a little helpless thing who knows nothing and needs looking after. This is, after all, what a baby is, right?
Why is it acceptable for a man to speak to a woman in a certain way until he thinks she is with a man? To the outside world, Phil and I looked like a couple. We were a male and a female of the same age sitting in a pub together. I may even have touched his hand when he offered to pay for the drinks and I was saying ‘no’. Scandal. Phil is in a committed, long term relationship with a wonderful woman who is also my friend. Why can’t we have a drink together without sexism?
My mother is a business woman and still many men who meet her ask why Mr Allen couldn’t be there. Because that’s not her name; her name is Mrs Allen, thank you, and your meeting is with her. The stereotype goes beyond gender; I heard a fantastic quote from a woman: ‘because I am 73, many people think it’s acceptable to call me ‘dearie’, when my correct title is ‘Professor’. I became a homeowner at a young age; estate agents would openly say ‘wow, did you win the lottery? What do you do for a living?’ The answer to them is, ‘none of your business’, the actual answer is ‘I lost a family member who left me enough to get started, and I’d much rather have them back than be here talking to you, Mr/Ms Estate Agent’. I teach acting and my boss is 64. The candidates for the course don’t usually meet me at their audition; they are met by my boss. They are then sometimes surprised to find that they’re spending the term being taught by me. This is an example of ageism working the other way around. They assume that because Tony is older, he must be the only person who has anything to teach. I may be younger, but I’ve been in the industry for 10 years and do have something to teach, otherwise Tony would not have employed me. I started teaching at 28 and a few of my students were my parents’ age. This has been a problem for only one or two who think they can bend the rules and push me because they’re older and therefore know better. I have been called ‘Jadey’ in class in a bid to undermine my authority in the rehearsal room. ‘Jadey’ is not my name.
I am not a stuck-up title lover and anyone who has been taught by me knows that I run a very casual, very informal rehearsal room. If you call me ‘Jadey’ when we’re laughing, I won’t notice it, but ‘Jadey’ when we’re having a serious conversation is not on. I love pet names. My best friend calls me ‘badger’ and ‘Jade-face’ and ‘chimp’, that’s great; but he’s my best friend, he’s earned it. My boyfriend calls me ‘Bruce’, he’s earned it. My mother calls me ‘Jadene’. I am her daughter; she can, and has called me whatever she likes, but mum’s in a different league; I belong to mum and she has free rein to call me whatever she likes, always.
Familiar names are wonderful (as per my previous blog), as long as they are done with affection, familiarity or respect. I’m not going to lecture the man who sells me a packet of crisps and says ‘60p please, sweetheart’, nor am I going to stop saying ‘cheers, mate’ to the man who offers me a newspaper on the train. My problem is with aggressive familiarity; being called ‘darling’ when I know that’s not what they mean.
I should have told that barman to call me by my name, and if I ever see him again, I will. And unless you’re my lover and we’re being playful, don’t ever, ever call me ‘baby’; because that’s not my name.