You want my advice? (Pt. 7)

“You Want My Advice?” is a twice weekly feature (Tuesdays and Thursdays) of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Heed my word at your own risk.

Q. I recently graduated from college and started working in the real world. My problem is that my name is gender-neutral, which my parents tell me was intentional. Many new business acquaintances, whom I meet through e-mail, mistake me for a man. I am often addressed as Mr. and worse, taken for my own secretary when they call. It’s awkward to explain and then embarrassing for the person calling. Is there a polite way to let people know my gender? – It’s Pat

A. I can definitely sympathize and may be able to offer some unique advice from the perspective of someone named “Davis Whiteman.” The “Davis” part comes from several previous generations of fathers and grandfathers, and is not to be confused with “David,” which I’m often mistakenly called. Because my father was also a Davis (actually he went by “Dave”), I became known as “Davie,” which I dropped as soon as I got to college. My son also has the first name of “Davis,” but we call him by his middle name, Daniel. I don’t know who or why somebody came up with the “Whiteman” part – it might’ve seemed like a good idea at the time (1800s), but is definitely awkward in this modern multicultural era. It’s actually pronounced “White-mun,” a small consolation.

Now what was your question again?

Oh, yeah … something about how you want to show your genitals at work. This is not something I’d recommend for most professional workplaces. While it may be essential for certain jobs in adult entertainment and, more recently, the real estate industry (“I’ll show you mine if you buy this house”), most of the dress-for-success literature out there strongly suggests dressing. If you’re a woman, you may want to stay away from pant suits; if you’re a man, I’d avoid putting flowers in your hair.

Electronic and telephonic communications are admittedly a little more problematic. For email, I think you can solve the problem merely by using pink paper for emails if you’re a girl and blue paper for emails if you’re a boy. On the phone, just talk in a real high-pitched squeaky voice if you’re a girl and a booming low-pitched baritone if you’re a boy. As an added flourish, make passing references to Barbie dolls or rocket-propelled grenades, as appropriate.

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One Response to “You want my advice? (Pt. 7)”

  1. ghostfinger Says:

    Damn funny…. It’s good to finally find a blog that does not involve 5,000 word essays on “How to make a dill pickle(singular)” or “Why my cat is my best friend”. Keep up with your ‘advice column’ -that’s good stuff – I laughed pretty hard. As far as advice for your gender/neutral write in -my only advice is that she may want to sport a ‘camel toe’ while in the workplace. That might clear up some issues and I hear they are coming back as far as ‘fashion statements’ go. I could be wrong…. By the way, I added your blog to my links on my blog -hope ya’ don’t mind….. GF

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