I was just about fourteen years old the first time I heard someone refer to a girl as ‘a ting’. As uncomfortable as it made me feel, the term was commonly used by the boys at our school without complaint. To be fair, no one had addressed me personally that way and I flattered myself that there had to be a good reason why I was spared. And then, to my great dismay (those were the days of MSN) I discovered I had been added into a group chat of about ten individuals, one, a cocky male stranger whose way of seeking information about the latest addition to the group was: “Who is that? The Hess ting?” His answer from another boy: “Lol yes.” My reaction was: “Very funny!”
Pathetic, right? In any case it drew no further reaction. The point is, even as young as I was, I understood that being referred to as ‘a ting’ was far from how I wanted to be thought of. In short, it reeked of, yes, contempt!
Years later male acquaintances have casually continued to label women as ‘tings’, the local parlance for things; inanimate objects. Even women they covet. Should I chastise them, the usual explanation will be something along the lines of, “It’s just something we say; it does not mean anything disrespectful,” and I would think: “Surely, he cannot possibly believe there is nothing insulting about referring to another human being, let alone one for whom you have nice feelings, as things. I’ve even caught myself, on occasion, feeling sorry for some of my male friends who persist in this mindless name-calling. What woman with self-esteem would settle for any relationship with a male who considers her ‘a ting’?
While one’s use of a colloquialism does not necessarily indicate their level of intelligence and breeding, linguistic determinism indicates that the language one uses reveals the way one thinks. Remember the adage ‘As a man thinketh, so is he’? It continues to hold true today. Ask yourself: How would I feel if my friend, in my presence, referred to my mother, my sister, my female buddy as ‘a ting’? Now, imagine how a lady might feel hearing you define her with such contempt. Might she consider you ignorant? Uneducated? Ungentlemanly? Worse? Take my word for it, humiliated and dehumanizing only begin to suggest the way a regular woman might feel. No real man would want to cause a woman to feel less of herself than she knows she is. Chances are, a confident woman referred to as ‘a ting’ might well imagine that’s how the caller sees himself. Now there’s something to think about the next time temptation tickles your tongue!