One mark of a bully beyond the physical is intimidation of others through direct and veiled belittling. One way that kind of emotional bullying occurs is through the application of invented “Pet Names.” Some refer to pet names as “nicknames” but “pet names” is more appropriate for the intention behind the naming because it conveys ownership and dominion over the named.
A positive or negative pet name instantly re-defines a person by tending them in a place not of their own choosing with a new label that can be used to either help or hinder based solely on the inventor’s intonation and facial expression.
When others begin to use, and document, the pet name instead of the name given at birth by parents, the giver of the pet name is provided even greater power over the newly named. Creating pet names is a brazen play for power few recognize. The one who creates the pet name is demonstrating, in a true Foucauldian sense, that the power to name is an intrinsic, but unspoken, sign of importance and dominance over others:
Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.
To wield power in providing pet names for friends, adversaries, and family members, one must innocently claim on the surface it is all done in the name of fun and in a prep school spirit of goodwill while intentionally ignoring the darker selfish merits of the act: “The name by which you are known is not good enough for me so, in order to control you, and to force you to respond to a name that is not your own, I will re-baptize you with an infantilized label that can demean you, and empower me.”
Here are some a few pet names being used today:
FAMILY “Old Man” and “Bushie”
“Pootie-Poot” and “Landslide” and “Dinosaur”
“Turd Blossom” and “Big O” and “Hurricane Karen” and “The Blade” and “Big Country” and “Brownie” and “Tree Man”
“Big George” and “Freddy Boy” and “Congressman Kickass” and “Pablo” and “Benator” and “Ellis”
“The Cobra” and “Stretch” and “Little Stretch” and “Super Stretch”
“Kenny Boy” and “Weadie”
All those pet names were invented by, and are currently being used by, the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush.