I would like you to applaud my restraint

I just had one of those moments where a stranger's offhanded afterthought/comment brings on a sudden, strong emotion that just grabs you by the back of the neck and clouds all thought. Whoa, there!

I'm planning a Halloween get-together for New College alums in this region, and spent this morning building an invitation. As you see, the top line reads, "New College Alumni Halloween Gathering". I sent this off to the Alumni Office to be posted and emailed out, asking if it looked OK. The very nice guy I've been working with replied that it looked "awesome" and would start going out this week, blah blah blah, signed off and then

"P.S. My only recommendation would be changing the word "alumni" to "alumnae/i" in coordination with the New College Alumnae/i Association's use of a gender-neutral alum designation, but that's really a minor point, and most entities on campus still use "alumni." One day!"

An admirable sentiment. Offhand, and clearly not critical. And it immediately got my back up. 

I wrote back explaining that while I am well aware of the issues surrounding women's rights and gender equality and that generations of women who came before me fought strenuously for (among many more important things) the recognition and inclusion of those two letters. Those women basically enabled a world in which I do not feel disempowered as a result of my sex, and ultimately paved the way for my right to rather vehemently not give a rat's... (ahem) about that "ae".

My gut reaction was that words only wield whatever power you grant them, and that "i" has no impact on me. It's just a word, it can't hurt you if you don't let it. Sticks and stones and so on. Then I thought, just suck up and be helpful - making that change is really not difficult and there are other people who DO care. So I settled my fur and convinced myself to be reasonable and made the change. And it looked like... well, I'm not going to use that sort of language here, but I didn't like it. A lot. It really did make a surprising change in the overall aesthetic. It stopped being casual and started looking like it was "trying just a little too hard" if you know what I mean, and that makes a statement of its own. One that is at odds with my personality. I am not THAT girl, I just don't care that much.

I got to the end of my e-rant, and realized that I still hadn't made up my mind whether or not to add the "ae" and that I really didn't want to. Partly because of the aesthetics and partly just to make a point. I also realized that this poor guy who doesn't know me at all was about to get blasted by my emotional non-compliance over two letters in a post script comment. I'm quite certain he didn't deserve it. So I deleted the whole email and instead sent the following:

"I made the change as suggested, but I don't like how it looks. If it's all the same, can we leave it as is?"

My restraint, it is admirable. Right up until I posted the whole thing here. Ah well.

1 comment:

chrissie said...

I love this! Way more restraint than I would have managed. Truly admirable.

And I SO wish I could come to your Halloween party :(