It’s not exactly a secret that women often struggle to get respect from men, and Danica Patrick certainly isn’t a stranger to that feeling.
But sometimes, that can happen without men even realizing it.
The Orlando Sentinel’s George Diaz posted a story Sunday about Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and how he’s finally shaking the label of “Danica Patrick’s boyfriend” after a lot of recent success. But in respecting Stenhouse’s identity as his own person, Diaz dropped the ball with Patrick, as he referred to her (and only her) by her first name throughout the column, even while referring to several male drivers by their last names.
It might seem like a small thing to someone who’s not used to being marginalized in any way, but these are what we call microaggressions, which generally target groups like women, people of color, the LGBTQ-plus community and more. Microaggressions are unintentional and aren’t oppressive themselves, but they reinforce stereotypes, like when men say they have to “babysit” their own kids, attempt to compliment the other sex by saying they do something well “for a woman” or when people ask Americans of other ethnicities where they’re “really” from.
All of that is to say that there’s a 99.999 percent chance that Diaz meant no harm in referring to Patrick as “Danica” throughout his article, but using last names is a formality in journalism that’s meant as a sign of respect to the person. It also helps the writer’s credibility as someone who’s not on a first-name basis with their subjects. With a few exceptions, most editors would change any references to a person’s first name to their last name.
So, say what you will about Patrick’s record on the racetrack, but she still deserves the same respect that Stenhouse — or any other person — would get in everyday conversation.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images