Dealing with Terms of "Endearment"

As I began my senior year of high school yesterday, I was reminded of how frustrating it is to be young and female at the mercy of  patronizing teachers.

Now, many of my teachers are fine people who are good at their job.  Unfortunately, some, usually male teachers, take the liberty of assuming that my peers, because we are young and female, are named "Sweetie," "Babe" and "Hon."  These uncomfortable "terms of endearment," as I suppose these patronizing monikers qualify as, are not meant to be degrading and uncomfortable. I'm sure the intent is that us gals should be flattered that we are called pet names.  However, as I'd like to remind them, I am not a wife, girlfriend or daughter.  Every student deserves to be addressed respectfully.  Inappropriate affection should not be mistaken for respect.

Notice, also, that male students are not called "honey" or "babe."  No, if they are called nicknames at all, it is something like "buddy," or "pal"-- something that signifies their status as an equal to the teacher.

However, I am confused as to the proper response to a teacher who uses an inappropriate nickname. Does one silently chalk it up to the teacher's "good intentions," or loudly and obnoxiously correct them? It's especially uncomfortable when male teachers use such names. What do readers think, or do, in similar situations?

More articles by Category: Feminism
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Gender bias



Nellie B
Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.