Breaking: woman has meeting
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Breaking: woman has meeting

“What's in a name?” wrote Shakespeare. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A banker tried applying a similar philosophy last week. It wasn’t quite so poetic.

The banker was due to meet a young journalist with a gender-neutral name that historically was given to men. Their correspondence in setting up the meeting was done by email and, when he kept referring to her as ‘mister’ in his emails, she was too polite to correct him.

But when she showed up for the meeting, she neglected a funny wig, an overcoat and a fake moustache. Instead, she rather inconsiderately went as… a woman. This caused no amount of confusion at the bank, an Asian lender. Frantic conversations taking place in hushed tones, security guards and secretaries eyeing her suspiciously.

After a bit of hemming and hawing in the background, the banker determined the name they had down did match the woman’s ID so any prolonged discussion of gender naming conventions could be delayed for another time. They led her to the banker’s office — and there things took a turn for the worst.

The banker and his team began to overcompensate. They starting talking over each other, apologising for mis-gendering the woman and explaining their confusion over her name. It is usually not a man’s name, they said. It is not a normal phenomenon. They were shocked. Surprised. They meant no offence.

“In fact,” the most senior banker said, opting for a cast-iron way of avoiding any more embarrassment over mis-gendering the woman. “You have a very sexy name.”

I’m sure all readers will agree this was the ideal way to avoid any awkwardness. Perhaps next time the journalist should wear a fake beard to make things easier for everyone.

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