Yesterday morning at work, I was referred to as a “boy.”
It wasn’t use as a gender identifier, because I am, indeed a boy.
It was said with the intention of cutting me down to size, reminding me not only of my youth but also of my status in the office, as an intern.
I don’t think the person said it to be mean. I’m 100% sure he meant it as a joke; he was telling me to pick up my feet because I had been dragging them on my way from the office kitchen.
Still, regardless of the context, it completely threw me for a loop and threatened to derail my day. It would’ve, had it not been for some really great friends who made me laugh and talk about other things (like Macklemore).
What really bothered me was the feelings being called “boy” invoked in me. It made me feel like I was some little kid among adults, and that I shouldn’t even be there. Granted, I am a very junior member of the staff at my company, but up until that moment, I felt like I was among equals, at least in the sense of personhood. Sure, I had directors and vice presidents to defer to, but I could speak with them and not feel like I was less than them. I felt, and still feel, respected. It’s an exhilarating work environment to be in, and I hope it’s one I will remain in for the foreseeable future. For a brief set of moments, that was snatched away from me, and I felt vulnerable and out of place at my desk for the first time.
I may be young, but I give all of my co-workers the respect they deserve, and I expect it in return. I would never refer to anyone I work with, in my work environment, as “old man” or some other demeaning term.
I am not a boy.