Nice to meet you

My name, Fréderike, is a source of ongoing confusion. For example, some time ago I tried to make an appointment with a feminist group and visit their office on a night when they had some activity organised. I had mail contact with one of the members of the group, and she was hesitant to let me in. So I proposed a meeting first, so we could get to know each other. To my surprise, she came accompanied by a male friend. She saw me and said with a voice full of surprise: ‘Are you Fréderike?’ ‘Yes, I’m Fréderike, nice to meet you’. She giggled, admitted that it never occurred to her that ‘Fréderike’ could be a woman, we had a good talk and I was invited to their activities. So now I always sign mails with ‘Ms. Fréderike Geerdink’, or, in Turkish, ‘hanım Fréderike Geerdink’. It solves that problem, but the problem remains that some Turks just find it a difficult name anyway. But that’s also solved now, by a woman I met in a park. She was having a picnic with her family; I talked to them a bit and she asked my name. ‘Fréderike’, I said. She looked at me a bit confused, pondering a bit while looking at me and then she said firmly: ‘Ayşe’. Ok then, fine. From now on, sometimes I’ll be Ayşe. Nice to meet you.

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