America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Pet names, women and feminism …

I bring this up because I’ve noticed that it happens a lot – and also, because I find it very annoying and just plain …rude and stupid.

Not only at bars, but I’ve noticed this in just day-to-day life, too. One can blame it on being from the South, and thus there is a certain vernacular that one follows. I am sorry, for your so-called “culture” is not an excuse for putting women down.

What I am talking about is when men refer to women – and often times the more good-looking ones, as “sugar,” “baby,” “honey,” “hottie,” or whatever. Every one of those terms, with the exception of maybe “honey,” is not acceptable, not even in a relationship.

People have names and ought to be recognized as such. When we give name to something, we give it power. Men who refer to these women in said terms are engaging and recognize them not based on their individuality, but rather, the characteristics that they value women for. Yet, without those characteristics, women are devalued, and reduced to less than a human being.

I find it offensive because it takes away the individuality of women. Rather than seeing women as human beings, those people strip to women down to just their bodies, and nothing else.

Just as it’s politically incorrect to refer to one as “the black dude,” or “the fat chick,” it’s also inappropriate for one to refer to a woman or man (but this often times happens to women) based on their sexualities and their “goodies.” This, essentially makes women look like objects, and vehicles for men’s pleasures, rather than as people. It’s as if to say, “the only reason I am addressing you because you are hot.”

If anyone can appreciate a woman’s body, it’s me. But to be truthful, one can appreciate that without being the owner of it. One can do that without reducing women down to a piece of meat. One can do so without taking away the identities of women.

If it’s true that it’s a matter of convenience for some of these people, why is it that a woman is never referred to as “beautiful mind,” or “smart girl,” or whatever else? Why is it that when women are addressed, it always comes down to their bodies?

It bothers me, and I feel like addressing the issue every time I hear it, especially when it’s a stranger talking to a woman. Although “hottie” and such bother me, “baby” bothers me even more. She is not a baby. She is a grown woman with her own thoughts, dreams and mind.

I remember one time, when I was younger and much more tempermental, I was at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport and a steak stand, and some old guy called the woman serving her “baby.”

I was in uniform then, but turned around and gave him a stern warning – anymore of that shit and I’d shove my fist down his throat. He looked at me, said something about the younger generation being rude, and walked away.

There is more to a woman than her body, and she should be referenced as such – preferably by her name. I remember once, when I was briefly seeing a someone who had really big breasts, a friend referred to her as the “big-titted girl.” I almost punched him. Not out of jealousy, but because there was more to her than her breasts.

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10 Comments so far
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Is there anything more to this self-appointed protector of women then his fists?

Comment by Matthew

Not that I’m disagreeing with you, but there is a difference between “pet names” and “labels”. Things like “hottie”, “the black guy” and “the fat chick” are labels based purely on physical appearance which reduce a person to an object. Then there are the grey area ones like “baby” (or “babe”), “sugar” and “honey”. Then there’s harmless ones like “sweetie” (as in, “Can I have change for a dollar so I can call my sweetie?”) or “love”, which I like a lot – it’s the pet name my husband & I use for each other. And I don’t mind being called “love” (or “my love”) by my husband one bit; in fact, I rather like it, makes me feel good. But that is something that is between two people who care for/love each other. However, if some stranger walked up to me on the street and called me something like “babe” or “honey” or “sweetie”, I *would* be offended, for certain. Which is what I think you’re trying to get at… But when you’re talking about pet names between couples, it’s strictly a personal choice and usually enjoyed mutually.

Comment by MzStilletto

I definitely agree with you when it comes to strangers calling women by these pet names. Especially since usually the men that call you “sweetie” and especially “hottie” instead of just asking for your name tend to be greaseballs (or much older than the girl).

However I think in the context of a relationship it’s a whole different ballgame. My husband and I call each other “babe” and it’s meant as a gesture of love and affection, not as any way to strip each other down to anything.

In a way the way in which the nickname is perceived, and how welcome it is, is kinda what matters here. Sort of like with other harassment issues. Your spouse whispering sweet nothings into your ear is sexy, but your coworker, in who you’re not interested, doing the same thing is creepy. It depends on the relationship between the people involved (lovers vs strangers,etc) and how each person feels about the nickname being used, whether it’s welcome or not.

Comment by Marcy

What I am talking about is when men refer to women – and often times the more good-looking ones, as “sugar,” “baby,” “honey,” “hottie,” or whatever. Every one of those terms, with the exception of maybe “honey,” is not acceptable.

——————–

Heh, I’m now convinced this site is a parody.

Comment by Mrs Potatohead

What about when women call men pet names? What is your opinion? Personally, I like pet names (regardless of gender). It really is not a big deal to me. It is a bit extreme to feel offended by being called sweetie and so forth, in my opinion. Not to say you are wrong or right. Preferences…

Comment by Interested

I disagree. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South, but if someone addresses me as “sweetie”, “baby,” “honey” etc, I’m not necessarily offended. It’s slightly weird if it’s someone I don’t know, but I don’t find it offensive unless someone’s sexually harassing me. It depends on the context of the word.
“I remember one time, when I was younger and much more tempermental, I was at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport and a steak stand, and some old guy called the woman serving her “baby.”

I was in uniform then, but turned around and gave him a stern warning – anymore of that shit and I’d shove my fist down his throat. He looked at me, said something about the younger generation being rude, and walked away.”

I’d actually be more offended and bewildered by that than anything.

Comment by Radhika

Mrs. Potatohead, and I am now further convinced that you’re an idiot.

Interested – I think pet names are silly, for both genders. It’s a bit high-schoolish for me.

Rah – and no matter how offended you’d be, I wouldn’t really give a damn. I am not out to please anyone.

Comment by ProFeministMale

PFM, you know I love ya, but sometimes I get the feeling you advocate things you *think* you’re supposed to advocate in the name of feminism, rather than things that truly make sense. And it’s unbecoming of you to constantly resort to violent imagery/fantasy. It’s like a male peacock or something!

What I am talking about is when men refer to women – and often times the more good-looking ones, as “sugar,” “baby,” “honey,” “hottie,” or whatever. Every one of those terms, with the exception of maybe “honey,” is not acceptable, not even in a relationship.

What?! You often seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Strangers refering to women as “baby” or “honey” is condescending and often sexist. But why would you jump to the conclusion that those pet names are unacceptable in relationships? A man calling his wife “cunt” in anger? Yes. A man calling his wife “baby” with sincerity? Completely acceptable (as long as she’s OK with it). Those words are terms of endearment; they exist for a reason.

Comment by SarahMC

Hey Sarah,

Totally understood – and I know what you mean, but here’s the thing: just because the relationship is an equal one on the surface, does not mean that it truly is equal. I’ve observed this more than once with my friends and those around me.

A person who, without thinking, calls his (or her) significant other a term of endearment without properly giving thoughts to it, probably isn’t very feministic or isn’t taking the time to deconstruct. I know I am sounding like a RadFem for saying this …and I am sorry.

For example, my favorite term of endearing, although weird, is just a “Hey, you …” and I’ve given it thoughts: “She has a name …am I not acknowleging her by calling her just by ‘you,'”? Point is: within the relationship, things might be different; but outside of relationships, it’s invariably different, when others are watching. We have to be the examples we want the world to be …or some shit like that. 🙂

Comment by ProFeministMale

PFM, your position is not radical feminism. I am as feminist as they come, but I am not about to tell someone it’s unacceptable for them to call their partner “sweetie.” Gay couples have pet names for each other. I have pet names for relatives and friends. And my b/f and I have pet names for one another. None are derogatory. It really has nothing to do with feminism.

Comment by SarahMC




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