Don’t call me honey

A student discusses her hatred for the word “honey” as she acquires positions of authority in the workplace.

Listen to the author read their essay.

Honey, darling, sweetheart, hon.

These are all pet names I’ve been called by men in almost all of my workplaces throughout my life. And within the past semester, I’ve dealt with this more than I have ever before.

I am currently the co-multimedia editor for The Temple News; producer, anchor, and reporter for Temple Update; and an account executive for PRowl Public Relations.

At first glance, many are impressed with the positions I hold. And don’t get me wrong, I am proud of myself for having the opportunity and privilege to hold these positions. However, I strive to be so involved because of the pressure I feel to be better than everyone — especially any man — who might be a competitor of mine when it comes to getting into my desired profession as a news broadcast producer after college.

Women are leaders in the workplace now more than ever. But even after decades of hard work, trying to prove themselves to be in their well-deserved positions, many women feel not only less valued than men but also more pressured to prove themselves. They end up pushing themselves to their breaking point as a result.

I am one of these women.

With all of the ways in which I try to prove myself, I am still met with the fear that men think less of me. And even if they don’t do so explicitly, these men don’t understand the way they make me feel when they call me “honey.”

A couple months ago, near the beginning of the semester, my co-workers went on a group dinner. One of my male co-workers told me to go get him a drink and proceeded to call me “honey.” It infuriated me and I called him out on it.

But his response, though apologetic, included him blaming it on his grandfather, saying “oh no, that’s just my grandpa coming out of me,” which I thought was one of the lamest excuses I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t matter if you grew up with this around you, in our present-day climate, you should know that it is wrong to hold on to this mindset, especially as a straight white man.

There are still many men in this world who are stuck in the ways where they have grown up with the thought of putting women down like in “Legally Blonde” where Warner tells Elle she wasn’t smart enough to go to law school, or how Taylor Swift is fighting with two of the most powerful men in the music industry for rights to music she wrote herself.

Whether it be my high school guidance counselor telling me it wasn’t realistic for me to be in the news media business — let alone get into Temple — or the career center telling me it was unlikely for me to get a job out of college in a top 100 market, people always try to put down my abilities. It’s no wonder why I have so much doubt in my abilities — it’s because adults have been telling me these things for years.

My self-doubt and my insecurities about my leadership follow me everywhere. It seems as though it doesn’t matter how many times people tell me I’m doing a good job, or “you’re doing great, sweetie,” (insert ironic sigh here), I still don’t believe it. I blame it on the people I am supposed to look up to in my professional life putting me down and making me feel like I’m not good enough, and I keep trying to overcompensate, whether it be by fixating over my resume or stressing myself out to my maximum capacity.

In my positions of authority, I juggle between being too nice, fearing people will walk all over me, and being too strict which would deter people away from wanting to work with me. Men don’t have to worry about this. If they’re strict, they’re praised as being great leaders. If they’re nice, they’re praised for being a gentleman.

But at the end of the day, a man will never be called a bitch for being a boss, and no one would dare call them honey.

Listen to how the author was inspired to write this essay.

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