By: Abrena Rowe ~Copy Editor~
Do not call me ‘baby.’ I am not your ‘baby,’ you have done nothing to earn the right to call me that, so stop before we go any further. Paying me a half-assed compliment, holding a door for me or texting me good morning does not give you permission to call me ‘baby’ or any variation of the pet name for that matter. My name is Abrena, uh-BRE-nuh. Not that difficult to pronounce, despite the four to five times it takes you repeating it back to me with varying emphasis, different inflections and mysterious letters that can’t be found on my birth certificate.
When someone I have zero history with attempts to call me ‘baby’ I can’t help but feel belittled. I feel as if the person is talking down to me in an attempt to make me feel small. Also, the tone implies I don’t have an opinion or I have a hot body that’s sole purpose is for them to admire. I don’t like feeling that way. Don’t call me ‘baby.’
Even when I have a history with a person and we have a relationship, they call me ‘baby’ when I’m “acting out” or “being crazy” and need to “calm down.” As if that name is some sort of leash that will cause me to straighten up and get back in line. I am not your ‘baby.’
I am an attractive young lady. That’s a simple fact. When I go out with friends on the weekends or just out to run errands I get hit on. The way that guys and even girls approach me, more times than not, makes me increasingly lose faith in our generation when it comes to interpersonal interactions. Then I get hit on by the older folks. That’s when I just lose faith in all of humanity.
I just want to know where along the line it was taught that harassment, verbal and physical, was the way to win someone’s heart. And if their heart isn’t the ultimate goal, their attention.
When did “hollering,” “caking,” and “spitting game” become a societal norm? If you ask me, those terms make my skin crawl when they are put into practice against me.
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation. I go out to the mall to buy some clothes. Walking and minding my own business when a guy approaches me and says, “I would love to wake up to a smile like yours tomorrow.” Smooth pick up line? How am I supposed to react to a random stranger implying he wants to have sex with me when he doesn’t even know my name or anything about me? I’m supposed to fawn, giggle and feel special that some guy went out of his way to pay little ol’ me a compliment. “Baby, can’t you take a compliment?” No, apparently I can’t. If you’d approach me in a respectful way maybe, just maybe we’d get somewhere. I don’t respond to crude comments about my body because I am not your ‘baby.’
I dream of a day I can go out and not be harassed by passerbys. I dream of a day I will not have to worry about what I wear and live in fear that there will be people out there who will blame me if I get harassed because I “was asking for it.” I was the one who “should have known better.”
I want to be able to go out on the weekends and not roll my eyes when someone approaches me with that all too familiar gleam in their eye. I want to be able to go to the mall, the grocery store or the gas station and not quicken my pace and avoid the oncoming creep getting ready to shout out “hey shorty, [insert shrewd comment on some body part.]” Now I’ll admit some things have happened recently to make me upset, but I feel justified. I’m tired of being harassed and objectified, and if you’ve related to anything I’ve said you should too.
I am not your ‘baby,’ and I never will be.