My Name is Not Honey

“Hey, honey! Come here!” he calls across the book-filled building. I look up from my work, an angry warmth flooding my face, as a realize he is speaking to me. He is tall, at least a foot taller than my 5’2 frame. A red plaid shirt stretches tightly over his protruding belly as he pokes at the copy machine with a thick, dirt-stained finger.

“I have a name,” I whisper as I help him make his copies. He does not hear me.

“That’ll be fifty cents,” I say, without the smile I usually reserve for patrons of the library. He fishes the coins from his pocket and holds them slightly out of my reach. I stand on tip-toe, an unwilling participant in a game that provides him with amusement and me with humiliation.

A scene like this is not uncommon for me. I am called “honey-sweetheart-dear” on a daily basis. In most cases, it is intended as a benign expression, an annoying byproduct of living in the South. Because I reside in a female body, it seems as if I should expect these expressions of “endearment.” Instead, they anger me.

As the plaid-shirt man exits the building, his booming voice still resonating in my head, I wonder how the scene would have played out if I were a man. He would not have called me honey, but most likely, “sir.” He would have asked for help instead of demanding my attention. He would have paid his bill in a straightforward fashion, no games, no crooked smirk. He would have seen me as an equal, as human.

When I think of my daughter, twenty years from now, experiencing such treatment, I am saddened and angered. In an age when so many people have declared feminism no longer relevant, I am reminded that not only is it relevant, it is necessary. When I go to work in the morning, I should not be afraid of being made uncomfortable merely because I have a female body. I should be able to expect respectful interactions.

I hope, someday, that my biological status will not matter. That I will be viewed as a professional, as an equal. Until then, I will continue to speak out about things that make me uncomfortable. About the fact that women are still expected to be caregivers, are still paid three-fourths the amount that men are for the same jobs, are still seen as lesser beings in the middle of work environments.

And next time I am called “honey” and beckoned, like a dog, like a servant, my reply will not be a whisper. “I have a name,” I will say, firmly, looking into his eyes, making him feel the discomfort that I have felt. “And don’t call me honey.”

Tif Brown

Tif is a young, queer atheist living in the South with their husband and daughter. They have an interest in equality and justice, particularly in relation to the LGBT community. Someday, Tif plans to go into social work. Maybe. At the moment, they work as a library clerk and dream of the day that one of their books will be among those shelved.

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