Don't Call Me Sweetie!

I was in a store the other day when the lady at the counter said to me, “Hi, sweetie.”
I detest being called “sweetie.” Especially by another woman. Especially by someone who doesn’t know me.
Although I don’t know exactly why, this has always bothered me.
One time at a restaurant, the waitress kept calling me sweetie. I was dressed professionally and was definitely quite a few years older than the waitress. I started not to leave a tip, but then decided to leave one. Her service was good; she was friendly. I just didn’t like what she called me. (Oh, yes, I’ve been called much worse than “sweetie.” After all, I’ve been a politician, so perhaps I ought to appreciate being called sweetie or honey or sugar.)
As a matter of fact, I left this waitress a generous tip – along with a note telling her that I had started to leave without tipping just because of being called sweetie. I explained that, as a professional woman, I thought being called sweetie was demeaning. Maybe I was wrong leaving the note; I don’t know.
Over the years I’ve wondered about this and have talked about it with a few other women. Our collective belief is that women who call other women sweetie or honey might feel empowered by doing so or by somehow putting down other women.
One “sweet young thing” who called me sweetie recently explained that she had moved to the South after growing up in the North and that this is just “a southern thing.” I told her I’d lived in the South all of my life and had never called another woman sweetie.
Someone help me with this. What do you think? Is it sexist when a woman says “yes, sir” to a man but “yes, sweetie” to a woman? Am I just too sensitive? Is it a southern thing? Does it bother you?


Anonymous said...

I think some people just call everyone "sweetie, honey, etc." That's just their way. I save those terms of endearment for my nieces. The one I don't like is "missy." My name is NOT Melissa!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sherry ~ Notwithstanding language and cultural differences between the US and the UK, I think it may be "Ageist"

I was never called "young man" until I started to look old.

nice to meet you


Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with you on this. Granted, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but I just don't get it.

Martha said...

Sherry, I agree with you, also; I don't like it but had never thought about it being sexist until now. I had always thought it childish. Here I am at 60umph and this young-thang is calling me "darling" or "sweetie." Who does she think she is. Another I don't like almost as much is a waiter/waitress walking up to the table and saying, "What can I get you guys to drink?" Well, I'm not a guy last time I looked and I surely want to tell him/her so. ~Martha

TxGambit said...

Whooops. I call people (men and women) sweetie, babe, darlin', etc.

I never thought about it.... having grown up in Texas and all places South. But I also say "Yes sir" and "Yes ma'am"....

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