Monthly Archives: February 2016

All about context

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while now and I’m finally determined to write it so here goes!

A couple of weeks ago, on the same day, I received two comments about being “a lovely young girl” and a “lovely lass”. I’m now in my 30’s and, although I don’t feel old at all, it did give me a bit of a smiley moment, similar to the lovely happy feeling I get when asked my id in Sainsburys. Putting the phone down at work, I mentioned the conversation and a colleague said that they felt like the comment was a bit patronising and it made me think.

I’ve written posts before about being a feminist and the conclusion of that was I definitely am a feminist in the sense that I believe women and men should be treated equally and also that, sadly, there are still a number of areas where women have to fight every day for that right to be treated equally and with respect. Having been brought up by my dad on his own since I was 9 years old, I know how lucky I am that my dad never dissuaded me from doing something on the basis of my gender and always encouraged me to do what made me happy (as long as it was legal of course!).

So, is being called a ” lovely young lass” patronising? Is it sexist? Should I be outraged? For context (and that is the name of this piece so I really should get it in here!)….

The first comment was from a gentleman, probably in his 50’s so I guess I am technically “young” compared to him. I am definitely lovely. The girl thing…when I went out with my husband before marrying him, I called him my boyfriend (as well as his name!). He wasn’t 16/17 when we were going out, he was 25 so officially a man but I wouldn’t call him a manfriend so when is it okay to call someone a girl? If there are circumstances where I shouldn’t be called a girl, are there also circumstances where I shouldn’t call someone a boy unless he is under the age of 18?

I think the tone of delivery is also important. I had just had a long detailed conversation about someone who ran a charity enabling people with disabilities to sail and I was looking at how I could help him with investment. So naturally, he thought I was lovely. If it was a random person in the street I probably wouldn’t have the same attitude towards the comment.

The second comment came from a female colleague based in an office where I am originally from. I equate “lass” with Yorkshire slang so when I hear it, in whatever context, it makes me smile and think of home. Again, I’m younger than the person who made the comment so I am “young” (or at least younger”).

I wasn’t offended in the slightest. I didn’t find it patronising, sexist or anti-feminist. Maybe as I knew the context, the meaning and the tone it was delivered. Isn’t that just life though? That anything needs to have context. Anything needs to have the meaning ascertained and everyone should be aware of tone? What do you think, genuinely interested!