Names and identity

Hmm this has been brewing for while……as a cripple I seem to have met more people recently who call me different things …..”dear” is coming up as the (still) most offensive. I have a sign on my car that says” Disabled driver’ but I’m contemplating “cripple in car’ as a more effective sign. But I don’t want to offend people (excuse me I’m the cripple here). I’ve also been called “crip” and “gimpy”. In jest of course.

It’s another fraught issue. I suggested to the (very nice) young man at work today that being called ‘whaea” made me feel alternatively respected but also – well – old. He said he called even women younger than him the same. I’ve been called the same on marae. And took it as a sign of respect. “Kare” is nice. So is “e hoa”. One student thought he’d call me “bra” as the feminine form of “bro”. You can’t fault his lexical logic, but it never stuck for some reason.

“Dear” hmmmmm it immediately makes me feel little and old. It has the immediate effect of making me feel powerless. I remember arriving back in NZ from somewhere and watching the air stewards talking to an elderly woman in the most patronising way and calling her “dear”. I was silently urging her to whap them with her stick.

My (English) work colleagues favour “wench” or “love”. I guess it’s related to your own personal history and there is nothing really in mine that puts me against “dear” but ugh! “Sweetie” from a friend is nice, but not from a stranger. “Love” is somehow ok but can sound patronising. “Babe” is nice but hmm I’m a bit old for that and it is a wee bit personal. Friend Christopher used to call me “bunty” (“boonteh”). My name is often the best.

“Mrs B” is not good also and in hospital the very youthful doctors and registrars would all bounce in with “Hello Mrs Brown”. To which my ansty reply was “I am not Mrs Brown”. I guess they were too young for the 80s and feminism.

Fraught issue. But “dear” ugh.

I wonder what other women think here?

PS: I drove to work today. 🙂

PPS: next day – young man walked past and called me “tuahine”. Nice 🙂

PPPS: Comments have of course made me realise that there are two issues – what one is called by one’s lover/husband/wife/partner and what one is called publicly. I don’t really care what people call each other or me privately (well within reason) but publicly….some restraint is called for ……


3 thoughts on “Names and identity

  1. I’ve called my [wife/partner/significant other/handbrake/mattress] “dear” for years now.

    Gimpy gets my vote, but with rehab it will become less and less accurate.


  2. yes ‘dear’ is ok if you are familiar with the person (if you see what i mean) but if you are not and you are middle aged weeeellll it just comes across different. I personally favour “babe” but I think that’s wishful thinking……’gimpy’ is pretty good I admit….


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