Ooops. Obama, man this is one bad habit you have GOT to kick immediately!!
*Edited to clarify: I do not consider using words like sweetie or honey to be sexual harassment, or even really sexist.*
I will admit that when men use this term it grates on me more so than when women do it. Older women, not so bad. I do an internal eye roll and move on. Younger women or women of equal age/status with me - it comes across as demeaning and derogatory. It suggests that they don't regard me as an equal or are assuming a greater familiarity or intimacy with me than they are entitled to. When a man does it, especially an older man or one with more status or authority it is definitely derogatory, whether they intend it to be or not, for the same reasons. It is just not respectful. It implies that they do not see me as an equal. It's belittling and gives the impression that I am being written off, disregarded - like I'm 13 or something. (And just try calling a 13 year old sweetie!)
Does it change my opinion of him? No. But he really needs to be more aware of this bad habit and stop doing it immediately.
I am glad that I live in a time and place where the feminist movement accomplished its goals and can stay in retirement - at least in My Neck of the Woods. I have equal status, respect, and pay to that of my male counterparts. I can have a career and be a mom and do not feel judged on either front. I don't feel like I have to fight any battles related to being a woman.
However, two instances stand out in my mind where this was not the case. One was back in 1999. I was 27 at the time and newly married. John and I were in Circuit City in Concord, CA (East Bay SF) looking to spend our wedding money on some electronics. We had $2,000 to spend and were looking to buy a home theater system, DVD player, stereo, speakers, the works. I hovered around the area for a couple of minutes becoming more and more irritated with the two middle aged, male sales associates standing a few feet away, ignoring me while chatting it up. That was bad enough. Sent me a message that they had already written me off as a young (no money) female (obviously not the one to be buying the sound system right?) who wasn't worth wasting their time on. Finally, I got fed up and interrupted them asking if there was anyone who could answer some questions about the features/benefits of the various models. Their response? I'll be with you in a minute sweetie. I promptly turned and walked out. After all, there were 3 other electronics stores within a couple of blocks. I wasn't going to waste my time there, only to get upsold on a piece of junk, which was probably their next move.
The other time? Car shopping of course. I always do the car buying. I bought my first car at 23 (not counting the old Ford Escort my Dad and I bought from the want ads when I was 17). I initially brought my Dad along for back up but after a couple of stops he said I was doing better than he could anyway. So off I went by myself. Sheesh!!! I have to say, most of those salesmen saw me as an easy target when I walked in but were suitably impressed by the time I left, shaking my hand and their heads, telling me I was a tough negotiator, chuckling and wishing me good luck. But I came across at least one that shook his head and said I was being unrealistic, proceeding to end the conversation with me and turning to my Dad. Who of course, shook his head and told him he needed to talk to me as I was the one buying the car. The guy continued to try to go around me through my Dad until we finally got up and walked out.
Have to brag a little on my car buying negotiation skills - here's what they got me:
1995 - 6 month old Eagle Summit (same as a Mitsubishi Mirage - Mitsu engine) with 6,000 miles for $9,995. Sticker price over $14,500 new. I never did a THING to that car in the 10 years I owned it besides routine maintenance. When I sold it it had 168,000 miles on it.
1998 - '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport. I had been watching prices on these and knew that if I was diligent I could find one less than 2 years old for around $17,000. I called all over the Bay Area and spent an average of 30 seconds per call, stating what I was looking for and for how much. Some dealers just said sorry, no dice, some told me I was crazy and counter offered. But on about the 15th call I hit pay dirt. I went in 3 hours later to sign the papers. $16,999.
2005 - '03 Subaru Forester. I had narrowed it down to 2. One at a dealership for $13,500 which was truly a good deal and one from a private owner for $12,500. I tried to get the dealer to match the price or at least drop it a bit. I would have paid cash right then and there but no dice. I still considered it since the dealership would be easier to deal with than a private seller if I had any problems with the car, but ultimately the other car was nicer and I liked the color better on top of the $1,000 savings.
*Back to the main subject*
So, yeah, the use of the word sweetie rubs me the wrong way. If you call me sweetie, I probably won't make a big deal out of it. I certainly won't be offended, but I will write you off as quickly as you just did to me. Don't take me seriously and I will return the favor or find someone else who does.
Bottom line, it's not just the word, but the implication behind it, intended or not. Even if it is not intentional, it has the same effect, and leaves the person on the receiving end wondering not only what was meant by it, but in doubt as to whether or not they are being taken seriously. Obama is NOT in a position right now to give the impression that he is writing off someone's questions or concerns, or not taking them seriously. He still has my vote - I'm just sayin'.