By lawblogger • July 19, 2011•Sexism, Sexual Harassment, and Other Forms of Discrimination
I've recently been ruminating on the things that help men and women get ahead in law and whether they will ever truly be gender-neutral. I had a guy friend who became a confidant of a powerful partner because he reminded that partner of his son (presumably a woman would have been less likely to remind him of his son, but if she reminded him of his daughter and got the same preferential treatment, would that be okay?). I had a similar experience where a supervisor commented that I reminded of his granddaughter... and then he would sometimes call me sweetheart. When I told my male friend that it bothered me and sought advice about what to do, he likened it to his own relationship with the partner at his firm, who would sometimes call him "son". To me, being called son is different than being called sweetheart, but since I can't imagine someone affectionately referring to me as "daughter", I've come to the conclusion that "sweetheart" might actually be the female equivalent to the affectionate "son" used by the partner toward my friend. We could go a level deeper to the things that might cause the partner to say "son" vs. "sweetheart" (likely one brings to mind qualities that would lead to promotion and the other brings to mind qualities that would lead to an arranged marriage). On a practical level, though, I don't know how to get him to stop calling me sweetheart or if the confrontation would even be worth it. Is it better to be sweetheart than "that girl over there"?