Sunday, July 1, 2012

Subtly Controlling

In case you've been living under a rock, Katie Holmes has filed for divorce from Tom Cruise.  I doubt many people are surprised, and I further question whether anyone really cares all that much.

Personally, I think she signed a five-year "I'll-stay-married-to-you-no-matter-how-crazy-you-are-because-I-don't-want-people-to-be-able-to-say-"I told you so!" clause and went just a little bit longer than that just so nobody would think that ... well, that there was such a clause in place.

But honestly, I don't care all that much about Tom Cruise or Katie Holmes.

What stood out to me is Cruise's constant need, since the early days of their courtship, to refer to Ms. Holmes as "Kate".  

This might seem silly and unimportant--it's entirely possible that it's both of those things--yet it got me thinking about the subtly controlling aspect of calling your significant other by a different name publicly, constantly, and frequently.

It reminded me of the times that many of my friends used to comment on how strange it was that my ex-husband (back before he was my ex-husband, way back to the days when he preferred me and the girls to Merlot or Chardonnay) called me "Katherine" (in fact, he still does).  Several of them inferred pretty strongly that it was subliminally controlling, and I can remember defending him (again, pre-alcoholism, he was a pretty good guy).

"He knows a lot of people named Katie, and he wants me to be special," I'd say.  (But it occurs to me now that he knew a lot of people named Katherine, too)

"It's an affectionate nickname," I'd say.  (But, really, what is affectionate about calling someone by a name that is otherwise only used in an official capacity--the DMV, say--or by my mother when she is mad at me?)

And so on.

With hindsight being what it is, I suspect that my friends were probably right.  

I don't think my ex-husband has called me "Katie" (which is what EVERYBODY calls me) since before we started dating.  Even when talking about me to friends and family, who always call me "Katie", he would say, "Katherine and I will bring the dessert" or "I'll see if Katherine wants to go to the lake this weekend" or whatever.  He didn't use it as a joke, either ... it was ALWAYS "Katherine".

And it's not like I'm famous or anything, either ;-)

So I wonder if Katie Holmes feels the same way about being called "Kate" by her soon-to-be-ex-husband, if she will feel relief when people are calling her by the name she chooses to use.

To be fair, I might be way off base here and everyone in her personal life calls her Kate, but it got me thinking ...

And when I get thinking, I try to share it with you, so you can weigh in and bring my thinking to a higher plateau. 


  1. I absolutely hate it when people call me something other than my name. Except for when Jessica comes up with a hilarious nickname for me. I'm actually listed on her phone as one of them and her friends think I'm some kind of male stripper xD If I knew someone called Katherine I'd be calling them Katherine even if their friends called them Katie. It's just the kind of person I am. There's nothing sinister about it, I just like being formal and using full and proper names. One of my friends called her boyfriend a shortened version of his name, and insisted I do it too, because I always used his full name. It took a while for me to get to do it.

    Hopefully the fact that I've not mentioned Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes until now shows you just how little I care about them or their news. I'm just surprised that Katie's circuitry has failed. She wasn't programmed to break up with him.

    1. Yup, I'd love to know the details of her deprogramming ...

      And you've got me dying with curiosity over the male stripper name.

  2. I am named after my father so I got to use the full name. I like Calvin but hate Cal. My dad was Cal even though Lee Roy was his first name. I once called myself CJ for a summer at cadet camp when I was trying to reinvent myself in a place where no one knew me.

    I always called people I worked with my their first name or by Mr or Mrs because they were fellow teachers. I am not a fan of nicknames. Something like 'stinky' can follow a kid around for a lifetime.

    Now as for Tom or Katie they are not the problem anymore. Something has to be done about their demon spawn, however. That Suri has the programming to destroy the world and once it's activated we are all hooped anyways.

    1. Yup, Suri in 2012 ...

      On a different (and completely random ;-)) note, Calvin is the name of one of my boyfriend's cats. (His other cat is named Frank because he is gray with a Zappa-esque "beard" of white).

      For some reason, I thought you should know all that ... I am weird :-)

    2. I appreciate that you told me that. Not enough people name their pets or children Calvin often enough for me. I never even taught a kid named Calvin in 20 years of teaching.

  3. You know, I noticed that "Kate" thing too several years ago! I figured it was Tom's way of initiating her into his legendary A-list Hollywood world. Like, he was kind of embarrassed of her teen movie/tv status and wanted the world to see her as more "grown up." He was trying to force us to see her in a different light.

    And have you noticed that ever since being married to Tom, Katie has lost ALL personality and has been like a well-dressed Stepford robot?! Her personality in interviews is gone. The light in her eyes has faded. I saw her looking like a WASP on The Tonight Show a couple years ago and was revolted. It's so sad. Like you, I'm hoping that after the divorce she'll not only call herself Katie again but also sparkle again.

    I'm just wondering who Tom Cruise's next victim is going to be too. It seems like in the past 20 years he hasn't been without a famous sidekick, whether it's Nicole, Penelope, or Katie. I know there are others I'm missing. That'll be interesting: to see what girl is desperate enough to boost her publicity to fall into his snare...

  4. Great post... and now that you've mentioned it, I think (in the occasional moments that I was paying vague attention to the trash news on telly) that I remember only hearing "Kate" too, which is weird because she is KATIE Holmes.

    Considering everything else I know about Scientology (which is actually a fair bit due to having a friend who "got away") I can only wish her luck and thank her for getting Suri out of that situation.

  5. Yeah, weird all around.... not that I really care what Tom Cruise does!!

    Thanks for visiting my blog!!

  6. I think that this divorce is not socking at all!
    great post! :)


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