My name is not Pretty

Dear Men,

It’s come to my attention, numerous times, that we need to address an issue. It’s one that might confuse you as to why it’s an issue at all, but please just hear me out.

My name is not Pretty. Or Beautiful. Or Sweetie. Or Sexy. Or Gorgeous. Or any other thing along that line. So I need to ask that if you do not even know my name, please do not substitute one of these in its place.

I know you think you’re just trying to compliment me. You want me to know that you find me attractive. And heck, this is mostly happening on dating sites. I should be flattered, right? Well, I’m not. It makes me highly uncomfortable. It tells me that you’re mainly interested in my looks, my body, in physical things — a physical relationship. And I get it, I’m on a dating website. But, you know what, I’m not here for sex. If I was I’d be on Tinder. I have no interest in meaningless hook ups. However, regardless of that, it still doesn’t excuse the use of these in place of my name.

These names assume an intimacy. We do not have that intimacy. We will likely never have that intimacy. I’m not just talking physical intimacy. Friends that I feel close to or safe, yeah, it wouldn’t bother me too much to hear them call me Sweetie or Beautiful. But there’s the thing, they actually know my real name. They actually know things about me — more than you can just gain from reading a profile. They know my laugh, my smile. They know my passions. They know me. You, just starting off a first (second, third, fifth) message to me, you do not know me. The whole point of your email is to get to know me. But to assume that intimacy too soon makes a power shift.

And I know what you’re thinking, here comes that feminist bullshit. But it’s not bullshit. It’s about treating each other as equals, understanding the inequality that’s been there for generations, and working to make sure that your privilege doesn’t work to hold others down in that space of inequality. It’s a lot. I know that. But it’s important. You have no claim to my person, and that includes my body. Assuming that intimacy by using pet names like “baby” or “honey” or “sweetie” or “beautiful” states that you’re claiming that close relationship that might grant you privilege to my body. And you don’t have that right. I have not granted that to you.

While you think you’re paying me a compliment by starting off your emails with “Hey beautiful” or “What’s up gorgeous” — you’re really not. It shows me that you’ve already made your assessment of me, weighed my worth, and that my physical appearance is your top priority or concern. To me, it’s not a sign of interest in actually getting to know me. You already have your opinion of me. Sadly, you won’t actually get to know me or know that I am more than just my appearance.

So please, do yourself — and me — a favor and don’t substitute some pet name for me if you don’t actually know my real name. I have no problem with just starting off emails with “Hey, how are you?” If I’m interested in getting to know you, I’ll tell you my name, and we can go from there.

Sincerely,

A lady who’s not your sweetie.
(Or who at least won’t be if you ignore this advice.)