I'm from the south, and terms of endearment are kind of our thing.
As a homegrown southern girl, I was also taught to respect my elders. Words like "ma'am", 'sir", "please", and "thank you" are so deeply embedded in my psyche, that I still mind these manners as an adult. Writer and director of the wildly popular Netflix series, When They See Us, Ava DuVernay recently shared that although she's grateful for the respect and admiration that she's received, she is not here for your terms of endearment, sis.
On this site, you'll often hear me refer to certain celebrities as members of our family, like mama, uncle, or cousin; but according to Ava, she is not your damn auntie. In an interview with Van Lathan, the 46-year-old creative had this to say:
"First of all, I have a real issue with recently I've been getting called on Twitter 'Auntie Ava'. Why?! Why?! Am I that old? Because I don't feel that old."
She mentioned the fact that historically, black women have been desexualized by the term "auntie," which is reflective of the mammy archetype that we have been forced into by society for years. After the interview, she wrote on Twitter:
"For the record, I happily respond to: 'Hello, Ms. DuVernay,' 'Hello, Sis,' 'Hello, Queen,' 'Hello, Family,' 'Hello, Ava' (safest bet)," she wrote. "Ms. Ava is fine if you're under 18."
After Ava shared her thoughts on the topic, Twitter erupted into a controversial debate with two very plausible arguments. While many users felt that the director was misinterpreting what was initially meant to be a sign of respect or admiration, there were a number of people that could totally see where Ava was coming from. One user wrote:
"I'm with @ava. The honorific "Auntie" desexualizes women. It started to bother me when I noticed people using it for Mary J. Mary is putting the young ones to shame; there is no reason to call her Auntie until her knees give out in another twenty years and she decides to park it."
According to Black Twitter, many women feel Ava's struggle and feel that the phrase "auntie" has become used a little too loosely and ultimately ages women before their time. 50 is the new 30, and Ava isn't quite ready to silence her sexy and become our auntie anytime soon. While it may be a term of endearment, Ava has made it clear that she finds it offensive, and in my opinion, that should end the conversation altogether.
Regardless of how you feel about Ava's comments, the bottom line is, if she doesn't like it, there is no debate; we should just… not say it.
What do you think?
Featured image courtesy of Instagram/@ava.