Vacula did a post claiming to reply to Michael Nugent’s post that asked him two questions. Vacula’s post didn’t reply at all; it ignored Nugent’s questions entirely and instead went on and on about how horrible I am. That’s not what Nugent asked, so it’s silly to say
This post will address Nugent’s most recent post and continue our ongoing dialogue.
One thing Vacula said was about my objection to his and Porter’s calling me “Ophie” – I pointed out that I don’t call them Justie and Karlie.
One should notice that the only reason Ophelia Benson was being called Ophie was because Karla Porter used the name in a satire piece, an episode of ‘As The Atheist World Turns,’ titled “ATAWT: Please Be My Agent Ophie.” While Karla was writing the piece, she didn’t use real full names, but rather only made references to actual people [Notice the characters EB, L Moore, Ophie, and Porter (who isn't even necessarily Karla)] . People ‘in on the joke,’ then, would easily get it.
But, no, that interpretation is the implausible one on Ophelia’s account and the name ‘Ophie’ is just to “belittle” Ophelia. Ophelia is complaining so much and taking great offense to a shortened version of her name. Give me a break.
Porter agreed in a comment, and added some geographico-linguistic expertise to amplify the point.
I have positions my first and last names as diminutive. It doesn’t irk me in the least. After more than 10 years of living in Latin America where use of diminutives is a sign of affection I have nothing whatsoever against them. Some people just don’t get it. to be quite frank…
It’s my turn to say give me a break. Or, more bluntly, bullshit.
Diminutives can be a sign of affection everywhere. Can be. That doesn’t mean they invariably are. They are a sign of affection when they come from people who like you. When they come from people who hate you, they are not a sign of affection. They are belittling. Who doesn’t know this?
Has Porter never even seen Tootsie for christ’s sake? Remember that? “My name is Dorothy. Not Tootsie, not Honey, not Sweetie. Dorothy.” And that wasn’t even about a diminutive nickname used as a weapon, it was just about a diminutive nickname used with casual patronizing dismissiveness.
I was arguing with some guy in comments on Jerry Coyne’s blog, years ago (obviously) – I think it was JJ Ramsey – and the guy called me “dear” in a response. I told him to knock it off, and Jerry backed me up, agreeing that it was sexist.
It’s very similar to the way the second person singular works in many European languages (and used to work in English). Tu, te, dich, and so on – they can be intimate and affectionate between relatives and friends – and they can be insulting or a marker of inferior status. It depends.
If people who are harassing you daily call you by a diminutive of your name, it is not a sign of affection. Karla Porter did not call me “Ophie” as a sign of affection. What she said in that comment is complete bullshit.