I posted an article titled “Hey, Bitch.” back in 2012. The piece was aggressive, judgmental and accusatory. I wasn’t necessarily wrong on all points but it remains a bitchy piece of writing directed at what I thought were bitchy women. How far the prideful fall, eh?
My position on being called “bitch” by friends remains constant. I don’t believe that word has any place in my life as a compliment, save when, in my wildest fantasies, Tina Fey calls me a “SuperBitch” and blesses me with her gift of No Fucks To Give.
I have this nasty habit, though, of avoiding harsh name-calling by running to the opposite extreme of the spectrum: I consistently refer to my female friends as “pretty girl” or “princess.” Both of which, if I’m going to be honest, sound a little condescending coming from someone who should be their equal. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be referred to like that, so why am I doing it to the women who matter most to me? Besides, even my female friends who are not fans of Game of Thrones definitively resemble a queen more than they do a princess.
After several lengthy discussions on the difficulties of finding an appropriate pet name for women I want to shower with sisterly affection I came to this question: What can I call my girlfriends, as a sign of love and respect, if not “bitch” or “pretty girl”?
To clarify the issue: I don’t want to participate, especially subconsciously, in the ritual objectification and degradation of the gender I am trying to champion. So, how do I approach women without fixating on something outward or potentially demeaning? How do I verbalize that I value them for simply existing instead of valuing them for something superficial and shallow?
What about these greetings? For the sake of argument, assume the word “Hey” comes before each word and “Friend” comes after each word:
- “Gorgeous” – Nice, but focuses on the outside.
- “Beautiful” – Generally used for both inner and outer qualities. That’s a go.
- “Pretty” – Am I prepubescent? No? Then don’t use this.
- “Smart” – I love getting noticed for my intelligence but this seems a little awkward and like you’re trying too hard.
- “Funny” – I’m not nearly entertaining enough to be referred to with a title that belongs to Barbra Streisand.
- “Honey/baby/sweetie”? Meh, to each their own. These terms are generally reserved for romantic, intimate relationships. There are women who will find these terms inappropriate. And that’s okay. Respect the boundary and find another term.
- “Dude/dudebro/bro”? I’m not in a frat.
After reviewing my options for addressing my female friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that, outside of it being almost entirely a matter of context, the best compliment we womenfolk can pay to one of our own is calling them “friend.”
Defined by Merriam-Webster, a friend is: a person who you like and enjoy being with, and a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity). That’s good enough for me and mine. Besides, anything that gets us closer to resembling a 90’s sitcom will probably make our relationship implode with awesomeness.
My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we address our friends.