Jessica Valenti points out one of the ways women are given special treatment.
When I argue with a sexist, there’s an inevitable point at which he will call me “sweetheart”. (I like to think of it as shorthand for “you’re winning”.) If I’m really making him feel foolish, he may resort to “bitch”. “Ugly” is the last refuge of the hopelessly destroyed.
I’ve been writing about feminism on the internet long enough that these names don’t really bother me. But nothing is more grating than when a man I don’t know – in comments, Twitter or real life – calls me “Jessie”.
I don’t know if I find the diminutive the most grating item, but I do find it grating. Which is worse, hatred or contempt? Hard to say. Are “cunt” “bitch” and “twat” worse than “honey” “sweetie” and “babyname”? I don’t know; both are special.
As it turns out, it’s not just me. Behind every female with an opinion is a man with a sneering nickname for her.
Sophia Wallace, a photographer and feminist artist, tells me, “In professional contexts, I suddenly become ‘Sophie’ with people who have an issue with me. Usually they think I have exhibited too much leadership and are trying to bring me down.”
Well, it’s like “boy,” isn’t it. It’s what you do to uppity inferiors – you remind them of their inferior status.