This never would have bothered me, if it hadn’t happened twice in the same week. I had two people, on entirely separate occasions, make a stink over the fact that I am working towards a Masters degree – they both interrupted me to say something along the lines of “Don’t you mean a Mistress degree?”
What? No! As far as I’m concerned, it’s called a Masters degree because I will have mastered something by the end of it. I cannot mistress something – I can master something.
Granted, it’s the end of term, and I am stressed out, which means I am particularly thin-skinned at the moment, but now that I think about it a little more, this issue has come up in other ways. As you know, if you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog, I am a triathlete, and last year I did a half Ironman. I’ve gotten all kinds of flak about whether that makes me a half Ironman or a half Iron(wo)man. And yes, people spell it with the parentheses.
Honestly, I get kind of insulted when someone feels they have to point out that I am, in fact, female. What, did you think finishing the triathlon somehow made me forget? If I call myself a half Ironman, it’s because I am ridiculously proud of the fact that I finished the event – and that’s what the event is called – it’s not because I have some weird, Freudian, gender envy problem.
At a full Ironman, as you cross the finish line, the announcer will often call your name, and say “You are an Ironman!” If I ever do one (Mom, don’t freak out!) I want to hear those words. It may sound weird and picky (and it is, a little) but the word “Ironman” doesn’t have any gender associations for me.
Unless we’re talking about the movie, but that’s a different blog post…
“Ironman” to me, is a race, a challenge, an achievement. It has nothing to do with whether the person doing it is a man or a woman. So when someone feels the need to stop me, and point out that I’m a woman, I feel like interrupting them: “Yes? And? What’s your point?”
If you are trying to be unbiased and forward-thinking, and prove that you believe in the equality of women, then why on earth do you need to stop and make sure I haven’t lost track of my own identity?