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Don’t Call Me “Sweetheart”

Don’t call Ashley Judd “sweetheart” for that matter either.

In A Facebook Live video, Ashley Judd explains the situation she was placed in and how she responded. Note the comments in the thread that aren’t exactly supportive of her being offended.

“This is the kind of thing to me that happens which I categorize as everyday sexism. And it is so easy to let it go and not to speak up, particularly when it is so easy for someone to push back and say, ‘Oh, I was just being polite.’ So I was coming through security and a guy said ‘Hey sweetheart,’ and I said, ‘I’m not your sweetheart, I am your client.’ So I was already setting a boundary.”

I am of the opinion that service providers need to treat clients in a respectful and professional manner that is consistently applied regardless of the gender of the client being served.   I don’t consider it a compliment for a stranger to refer to me with a term of endearment reserved solely for my husband or my immediate family to use.   It crosses the boundary into being too familiar, it’s not an appropriate term of address for a client/vendor relationship and coming from a stranger, it appears to be flirting.   Women should not have to defend their reasons why they prefer to be treated in a professional manner by employees and service providers.

The caveat to this are people who use these terms of address for everyone.  Years ago I shopped at a Southern States Farm Co-op store in Creedmoor, NC where the elderly female  cashier referred to everyone, and I mean everyone… young, old, black, white, male, female… as “Precious”.    It didn’t matter who you were, your name was “Precious”.   It was a little surprising at first to be called that…until I realized the big, burly farmers wearing overalls and sporting beards were also being called “Precious”.   It became rather endearing.

I had my own Ashley Judd moment decades ago when I was the client interacting with an older male salesman who kept referring to me as “sweetheart” or other terms of endearment typical of what a father would say to his daughter. His patronizing familiarity was undoubtedly a learned habit because he was truly stunned when I informed him of the reason why I would no longer do business with his company and was shifting business to his competitor.   To men of his generation, his behavior was seen as complimentary to a woman whereas to have behaved similarly with a male client would have been unheard of.    Sorry,  I’m here to conduct business in as a professional manner as possible and I expect to be treated like the male customers.

Do you want to edify your clients and customers?   Smile pleasantly to everyone, do your job professionally, ask pleasantly how their day has gone, and wish them a good day.  That’s enough of a compliment for me.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • NostalgicGal September 5, 2017, 4:57 am

    Ma’am and Sir are used a lot around here, even if the person being addressed is definitely under high school graduation level.

    If I am dealing with you as a client, I out and out ASK how you would be addressed. Some of my clientele are transgender or using alternate pronouns so I ask as a matter of course. Whatever you opt for is what I use, until you use otherwise. I may call my spouse something (and I couldn’t stand honey, dear, or hon, so he’s been ‘love’ for almost forty years. He has called me ‘honey’ once. (we’d been married a few years, he was finishing BS and I was waitressing. He’d tried everything but his pinfeed printer was truly dead. He woke me up a few hours before I would get up for another 14 hour waitressing shift and asked if he could spend half a month’s income (mine) on a used printer someone else had. I was mad as there was no way I could say no, and also really mad as he woke me up to ask me. I said yes, he scooted, and I heard him tell a friend ‘let’s hurry up before she wakes up and changes her mind’. I told him later about why I’d said yes and I would remain mad for quite a while especially after that comment and YES I heard it. He’s never called me honey again because.)

    • mark September 5, 2017, 11:53 pm

      I dislike being called sir. I’m very egalitarian at heart. And there is a lot of old world classism represented in the word. (And I work for a living.)

      • Jazzgirl205 September 8, 2017, 6:33 pm

        I like being called ma’am. What I don’t like in a business situation, is being called by my first name. It is doubly insulting if I refer to the person by their last name and they insist on my first name. When doctors refer to me by my first name, I consider it an invitation to call them by their first name. They don’t like it.

        • Cheryl September 12, 2017, 5:00 pm

          Actually, if I call a patient by their first name without their permission, I find it acceptable to call me by my first name.

    • SJ October 14, 2017, 1:33 am

      Yeah, I guess you do have to ask. Some people think you’re calling them old when you say “Yes, sir,” or “Yes, Ma’am.”

  • Mizhop September 5, 2017, 5:31 am

    Your story made me flash back to a visit to Louisiana some years ago. We stopped at a restaurant and had a waitress who called everyone ‘baby.’ As yankees, it was rather a shock for my husband and I to be referred to in such a manner, because in the north that’s much more of a personal term between married people or lovers. But like your story, Jeanne, it was something the waitress did with everyone, and it became a funny/memorable moment for both of us.

    • AttackKitten October 7, 2017, 2:07 pm

      I work in technology in a large office. One day, while coming inside from a break, I ran into two colleagues Ron and John. As I approached them (we were all converging on the back door), I could tell they were having a fairly spirited debate, lively but not cantankerous. We all live in Florida, but John is from a traditional southern state, I don’t consider our area traditional southern because it’s mostly transplants like Ron, and me. As we all approached, Ron jovially calls out “Ask AttackKitten! She’ll have the answer!” I inquire what the question is that needs and answer and they fill me in. They were debating this question. Is it appropriate to Hon, Sweetie, Sweetheart, Darling, people? Now John, as long as I’ve known him, has always addressed me as Ma’am, though he’s several years older than me, and seemed sweet in a regional way. Ron, also older than me just uses my nickname. John was explaining to Ron about the contextual, regional usage of these terms of endearment. Ron was being steadfast in his refusal that they were inappropriate. I split the difference, saying that yes in John’s favor it was a regionalism and if it wasn’t intended as a slight, condescension, or sexism and was used for everyone it might be annoying but not insulting necessarily. But conceded to Ron that, I’d left the north nearly 25 years ago and was sort of used to it and it would be weird to hear it where we were from. The best part was, upon leaving the elevator, several people were waiting to enter. I was still facing my friends and didn’t see the other group and jokingly yelled at John, “Stop calling Ron sweetheart, okay?” And then I turned and saw the group trying to enter the elevator and one of the guys said “I’m dying to know what on earth just lead to that!”

  • lnelson1218 September 5, 2017, 7:42 am

    Years ago, when I worked as a cashier customers regularly called me and other cashiers “honey” or sweetheart both men and women. We all wore name tags. The customer could have used our actual names.
    I was annoyed by this, but would politely inform the customer that many of us simply found it insulting that people would not address us by our proper names as pointed out that we did wear name tags. Did get some positive results.
    It is in the presentation again from the “honey’s” side.

    • Aleko September 6, 2017, 10:30 am

      Did the name tags only give your personal names? Because of course to address someone by their personal name in a situation where it’s out of the question for them to use yours (even if they knew it), is in itself a statement of superior status. If your customers were faced with name tags reading simply ‘Jayne’ and ‘Megan’, it’s just possible that they felt uncomfortable using these, and were trying to be friendly rather than snooty.

      • Kate 2 September 6, 2017, 4:51 pm

        Doing as lnelson1218 describes is still inappropriate and unfriendly though. If one is uncomfortable using first names on name tags, “sir” or “ma’am” should be used.

  • Aurora September 5, 2017, 7:59 am

    May I just say that this works both ways? I work in customer service. I have dealt with many customers who feel it is appropriate to address me by various pet names–honey, baby,sweetie, girl, girlie,baby girl, little girl. The difference is that I am not allowed by management to say anything because that’s being rude to the customer. If I went around calling customers “little girl” I would very rightly lose my job. But apparently it’s perfectly alright for the customers to address me in this fashion.

    • Dyan September 6, 2017, 2:53 pm

      oh I have been there Aurora, it is funny some people would call me names like that also when I worked as a cashier, I always would say oh by the way my name is Dyan…

    • frog September 7, 2017, 12:21 pm

      I actually called my dad out on that once many years ago – we were out to dinner, and he referred to the waitress as “hon” or something similar, and after she went away, I said, “Would you have addressed a male waiter that way? No? Then please don’t call her that.” I went on to explain how many times that had happened to me, working in retail, and how uncomfortable it could make me feel, and I think he actually kind of got my point, and hasn’t done it again, at least not in front of me – it’s not much, but better than nothing, I suppose.

  • Dee September 5, 2017, 11:29 am

    Calling women “sweetheart” and other terms of endearment, when not in a close personal relationship with those women, is an attempt to infantilize women. We expect that children are never in charge and are always ruled over by adults, and although the men may insist they are doing it for the right reasons, in the end they see themselves as a higher authority to the woman they are referring to with their inappropriate terms. Men start this off early in life by calling their daughters “princess” and their wives “queen”. These aren’t power terms but ways of putting women in their place, never at the top or even equal but at the most second, and in a snide way. It’s probably why I’ve never been a fan of Disney and its preoccupation with strict gender hierarchies for women and girls.

    I’m glad for the return of activity to this site and hope that means that you are feeling well, or as well as can be hoped under the circumstances, Jeanne. Good luck on your continued recovery.

  • CW September 5, 2017, 11:35 am

    I have clients that call me “Sweetie/Honey/Sugar/Doll” but they use those names for everyone they speak to and they don’t have any sort of condescending tone with it so I don’t mind so much.

    I have, however, dealt with salesman calling me those same exact names and had to say, “I’m not your Sweetie, you can use my name.”

  • Ripple September 5, 2017, 12:10 pm

    First, Jeanne, welcome back! Glad you’re doing better.

    I make a lot of phone calls to foodservice equipment companies for my work. I always identify myself and my company right off the bat. And yet the number of people (men and women) who then call my “honey” or (worse to me) “hon” rather than my name can be astonishing. Your job is to talk to people who have questions about your product, the least you can do is note their name and use it. I’d rather be called by my first name than “hon.”

    In the Ashley Judd case, I’d probably just give him a raised eyebrow and a look over my glasses rather than a verbal pushback, but that’s me. Depends on how much I was going to interact with him.

  • Melissa September 5, 2017, 1:35 pm

    THANK YOU!! So many want to villainize her and call her a snowflake, but really, no one should be using terms of endearments in a work place or professional environment. Personally, I view such comments from men as demeaning. I’m not your 10 year old niece or daughter to be put into subjugation under you. I am a full grown, independent ADULT.
    Sweetie, Dearie, Missy, Honey… let’s keep all of those words for your immediate family and out of the workplace. The only exception I might make is for that really handsome cowboy who helps me fix a flat tire and calls me darlin’ and tips his hat after I thank him. But that’s probably my own sexism speaking. 😉

    • iwadasn September 8, 2017, 10:36 pm

      When I worked in retail, I once had a man with a Southern accent and a cowboy hat call me “little lady.” I honestly didn’t think anyone said that outside of movies.

  • Kat September 5, 2017, 5:17 pm

    A caveat to the caveat: you may CHOOSE to indulge Precious Lady, but you are not obligated to. As a matter of courtesy, address someone how they wish to be addressed — this is a well-established social boundary, and takes less effort than going out of your way to address them incorrectly. You can usually find out how they wish to be addressed by paying attention when they introduce themselves. If they say “Hello, I’m James” it’s never okay to reply with “Nice to meet you, Jimmy,” OR with “Nice to meet you, Precious.” If you do, you’re being rude. Even within close relationships, there is typically a moment where it is mutually established whether X or Y term of endearment is welcome.

    (This is why mis-gendering and mis-naming trans and non-binary folks is so aggressively rude/abusive — it’s a courtesy that is typically granted to everyone that is being intentionally withheld from someone just because they’re different.)

    As with anything, you can choose to pick your battles, so perhaps you don’t feel like correcting Precious Lady if your interaction is five minutes of cashiering and then you’ll never see her again. Arguing with her why you have a greater right to offense than she does is probably not worth the effort or the drama she would inflict on you for trying. It doesn’t make her less rude for doing so, you just don’t have the obligation to educate the entire world.

  • Dippy September 5, 2017, 5:32 pm

    Unless you’re a pancake house waitress, don’t call me honey!

    PS, Jeanne, welcome back!!

  • Jennifer Wilson Boozer September 5, 2017, 5:41 pm

    Uhm, I think Ashley Judd needs to chill out!

    • Kelly Taylor September 11, 2017, 8:25 am

      No, she gets to decide how she wants to be addressed and under what circumstances. The fact that you think she “needs to chill out” only shows how intrenched this kind of misogyny is in our culture.

      Just because you, personally, might be okay with being called Jennycakes or Jen-Jen or babydoll or have people constantly mock your last name doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same, you know.

  • Mindblown September 5, 2017, 9:56 pm

    I actually kind of like it. Maybe because I never had anyone use any endearing names with me as I grew up. I always wanted a nickname or some pet name. And I run a business too!lol

  • Rebecca September 5, 2017, 10:49 pm

    When I was about 20 (30 years ago) I asked where the fitting rooms were in a sporting goods store, so I could try on a swimsuit. The two male salesclerks pointed me in the right direction and said, “As long as you come out and show us how it fits” or something. I did not ever set foot in that store again. How unprofessional. I expect to be able to try on swimwear free from innuendo and leering sales clerks.

    Whether or not I’d be offended by “sweetheart” I think really depends on the context. There are some places where “sweetheart” is just part of the dialect, used by males and females alike.

    But I also never went back to an insurance office where the owner (male) said, “Well Hellooooo!!!” and held on a little too long as we shook hands. And then proceeded to lecture me about credit card debt and interest rates when I wanted to pay by credit card, (I pay my card in full every month and always have, so credit card debt has never been an issue for me). I think he assumed that young (looking) and female meant “unable to handle credit cards.”

  • Anon September 6, 2017, 9:16 am

    It would depend on how the person is doing it. For example, if it was someone who did it to both females and males I wouldn’t feel insulted. But if they were say, calling men by their names, and then giving only females “cute little nicknames” then yes, I would feel infantilized.

  • Vicki September 6, 2017, 9:21 am

    As a rule I do not mind being referred to as honey or sweetie. But it does depend on who is using the terms and why. Usually the older generations get away with it because they are not trying to put me down or demean me in any way. It is simply their way of being friendly. Salesmen on the other hand usually come off as slimy when they do it. They get put in their place rather quickly. There is no correct / incorrect way of dealing with this issue because every situation and person is different.

    • Darshiva September 15, 2017, 11:00 am

      When it’s someone older, doing it to everyone, I figure they just can’t remember people’s names.

      I know my own mother has mental blocks about certain people’s names. She knows this one guy, we bump into him all the time, and no matter how many times she is reminded, she simply cannot remember his name!

      Precious Lady may very well have a thing like that, and gets around it by calling everyone by the same “name.”

      The thing about the man in Ashely Judd’s situation was that she stood up for herself, at first, and he just brushed right past her boundaries, including both physically touching her (not a TSA pat down, mind you, but just reaching out and touching a complete stranger, without warning or any reason for it), and calling her Sweetheart again, after she specifically told him not to. That is WAY different from “I call everyone Precious.”

      And why, oh why, did I read those Facebook comments? Ugh!

  • Vicki September 6, 2017, 9:25 am

    On a similar note, I was in my local Home Depot a week or two ago looking for an air nailer with certain features. The nailers were too high to be reached, so I asked an employee to help me. This man (I am female) had the nerve to ask me what color of nailer I wanted. I told him I was not amused. He continued talking about the various colors of the tools. I walked away and complained to management.

    • PJ September 6, 2017, 10:16 am

      OK I have to ask: what was he supposed to do? If he has to climb and/or reach way up for one, why not find out exactly which one to grab rather than guessing wrong, which may have been equally insulting, depending on the customer? I guess he could have asked “does the color matter?” but his question hardly sounded sexist to me. Do you know that he wouldn’t ask about color if he was assisting a man?

      I am also female and know my way around tools. I’d express a preference for a particular color, and that doesn’t make me less capable of handling an air nailer. I’ve faced that type of judgment before, too, but it comes more from women than from men. I’m just not seeing the stereotyping coming from the guy in this story.

      • Kate 2 September 6, 2017, 4:53 pm

        They are labeled. He should have asked her the name of the tool she wanted. “Craftsman 360 Nailer” for example.

      • Kat September 6, 2017, 6:51 pm

        Who on earth cares about the color of their power tools??

        I’ve had my various toolkits and power drills for over a decade, and couldn’t even tell you what color they are. I don’t think I’m an outlier, here.

        • Airelenaren September 7, 2017, 9:35 am

          There are still people who do care. Asking for a customer’s preference is only polite, in my opinion.

          • Darshiva September 15, 2017, 11:02 am

            Asking ONCE is polite, because, as you say, some people do care. When she said, “I am not amused,” he should have stopped, and focused on the actual brands, instead. He did not.

        • PJ September 7, 2017, 10:11 am

          I care about the color. Sometimes that is the only way to tell the difference between my tools and those belonging to my husband or my kid (yes, we do have some power tool redundancy in our house).

          But I shouldn’t have to defend my reasoning… I may not be in the majority, but I don’t think someone caring about the color *for whatever reason* is enough of a rarity that we be dismissed as some oddball with mixed-up priorities.

        • Jazzgirl205 September 8, 2017, 6:43 pm

          IDK, a Kitchenaid stand mixer is a power tool and people have definite opinions on what color they want.

      • NostalgicGal September 12, 2017, 1:06 am

        A major power tool company sends me surveys. They sent me a couple over would I prefer ‘feminine colored power tools’ over regular (such as yellow/black or red/black). I indicated I didn’t give a rip about the color but how the tool performed. A pink cordless drill doesn’t matter to me as much as how it performs. Sometimes this is taken too far.

    • ladyv21454 September 6, 2017, 3:53 pm

      I have to agree with Vicki on this one (and not just because she has the same first name). If the customer had been male, the employee would have either: a) grabbed the first one he could; b) found a black or gray one, because OF COURSE that’s the color a MAN would want. It’s kind of like the time I was looking for a good basic tool kit to use around the house for minor repairs, and the (male) clerk immediately showed me the ghastly pink “for women only” one.

      • SamiHami September 7, 2017, 7:18 am

        That’s an interesting assumption, ladyv21454. You don’t know that at all. I do think that this is one time that the sense of outrage is very misplaced. I think Vicki overreacted. If the item came in multiple colors, why wouldn’t he ask which color she preferred?

      • PJ September 7, 2017, 10:19 am

        OK, I can relate to that. The assumption that ‘all women want pink’ is a very different assumption than ‘customers have color preferences’ which may be all the man in the first story was going on.

        We don’t know for sure that the salesperson would have assumed the man’s choice was grey or black (how interesting that people don’t find that as insulting). Why not give him the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming he’s sexist?

        • Celestia September 14, 2017, 7:53 pm

          This tangent reminds me of when I walked into GameStop to buy my 3DS. I’m fairly sure I was the only girl in the store at the time. I went up to the clerk and asked for one, and he asked me, “Do you want it in pink?”

          I was so torn….on the one hand, it’s not particularly cool of him to assume that any random girl wants a pink system. But on the other….I did.

          I just said “yes” and left it there. “What color do you want?” would have been a question that didn’t even trip my radar.

      • Vicki September 7, 2017, 1:33 pm

        He should have asked ” Do you have a particular one in mind?” Or “what brand/model are you after?”

        • Airelenaren September 8, 2017, 8:27 am

          I was assuming he asked her what color of the specific brand/model she wanted, rather than that each brand comes in a different color (and only one).

          • Airelenaren September 8, 2017, 8:28 am

            *You, not “her”, sorry. I just realized you were the one who experienced this.

        • ladyv21454 September 8, 2017, 8:59 am

          Exactly. I still contend that he would NOT have said anything about color if the customer had been male.

          • SJ October 14, 2017, 1:38 am

            And the fact that he went on about the colors sounds like he was insisting on believing that was what she cared about.

  • PJ September 6, 2017, 10:05 am

    In general, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t believe that it is an attempt to subjugate me *at all* and I think jumping to that conclusion in each and every case is extreme. So many times it is a cultural thing and meant to be friendly. I take it as such, and think it is actually sweet.

    Of course there are times when it is inappropriate. A salesman should know better, knowing how very sensitive some customers can be. Similarly, if it happened at work I’d be irritated– I’m a female in a male-dominated field, and have never encountered it in that professional setting.

    I do find it very interesting that some posters are OK with being called “honey” or whatever it the person saying it has a “lower” perceived status.

  • SafetyGirlie September 6, 2017, 10:18 am

    My Mom has always said it’s not what you say, its how you say it. I think that really applies here. I immediately can tell if someone is being kind, not thinking (everyone is Precious mentality), or a condescending jerk. I’m a big fan of sir or ma’am after working with a lot of retired/separated military over the years. It’s a good equalizer. I’ve even answered to Sir because the poor kid forgot my name, was trying to be respectful, and got flustered :). I also like the southern habit of calling people Miss or Mister First Name. Respectful but not assumptive. However, the only time I can remember calling someone out on it was when a man called me “missy”. I responded “Oh, no it’s (five letter name ending in y) not missy,” cocked my eyebrow and walked away. It certainly took the wind out of his sails.
    Oh and actually – as an adult an older man asked my Pops if I was the Princess and my Dad responded “No, she’s the boss!”. Not his, but an actual boss. Good job Dad!

    • CW September 6, 2017, 12:08 pm

      I live in the South. Everyone becomes Miss or Mister [first name]. My daughter is taught the same thing in daycare so it’s become a habit in our house. (Even though I’m originally from the Midwest.)

      • Kelly Taylor September 11, 2017, 8:36 am

        Miss First Name is one of the things I loathe. Yes, I understand that it’s a Southern thing, but if I have any prolonged interaction or relationship with someone, I ask to not be addressed as “Miss Kelly.” It’s shocking how many times this has turned into a debate. “Well, it’s just good manners! It’s the way I was raised! We are polite in the South!” So… it’s good manners and polite to continue to address someone in a way that they don’t want? The way you were raised is somehow superior to the way I was raised, i.e. to respect someone’s chosen address and call them what they want to be called? “Well, I love being called Miss First Name! I think it’s cute!” That’s great. I love long, full, beautiful names like Michael instead of Mike and Isabella instead of Bella, so I’m going to call you “Michael” and “Isabella” even if you’ve told me several times you’re “Mike” or “Bella” because I think it’s cute and it doesn’t bother me.

        To me, this is all as disrespectful as continuing to use the wrong pronouns for someone because “you look like a girl to me, so I’m going to call you ‘she,'” or to call a professional by the wrong title (which we see a lot in academia: Dr. Taylor, not Mrs. Taylor). A person’s chosen address/title/moniker/name is their decision, not yours, and it is disrespectful to try to couch it as “manners” or “culture” or “no big deal” when that person is telling you that yes, their name IS, in fact, a big deal.

        • Darshiva September 15, 2017, 11:08 am

          Hear! Hear!

          It’s a matter of identity! When they tell you that your version of your own identity is wrong, and theirs is right, they are devaluing your identity, and you, as a person. Or, at least, that is how it feels.

          It does hurt when people knowingly refuse to call you by your right name. If they don’t know, that’s different, but if you’ve told them, and they hear you, and understand you, and remember that you want it different, but still insist on *their* way, then that’s wrong.

          I’ll forgive anyone with memory problems, but when they KNOW, and still do it? ARRRRGGHHH!


  • DGS September 6, 2017, 11:03 am

    Welcome back, Jeanne – I hope you are on the mend!

    And yeah, no…unless we have a personal relationship, I am not okay with being called “honey”, “sweetie”, etc. It’s not darling, it’s not cute, it’s unprofessional and infantilizing. “Miss”, “Ma’am”, “Dr.” or First Name.

  • John September 6, 2017, 1:38 pm

    I believe we’d all be happier if we initally presume that others intend no disrespect. If the speaker doesn’t show some other evidence of discrimination, I prefer to just be friendly and get on with my day. It’s cultural differences like greeting customs that make it interesting and educational to get out and say hello to people.

    I know that my maleness prevents me from having much first hand experience on the receiving end of sexism, but I think it’s unfair to presume that someone with a different custom than you is being disrespectful without more evidence than this.

    • PJ September 7, 2017, 10:26 am

      I am a female with many years of firsthand experience, and I wholeheartedly agree with you, John. 🙂

      I refuse to walk around this world living under the assumption that ‘not my norm’ equals ‘ill-intentioned’.

    • Shannon September 7, 2017, 10:47 am

      You’re part of the way there by admitting that, as a man, you don’t have firsthand experience with sexism.

      But something to keep in mind is that women don’t go hunting around for sexism or for things to be offended about. They just sort of happen, all the time, our whole lives. And because it’s often subtle, it’s uniquely exhausting and frustrating.

      And usually, when it happens, we second-guess ourselves and stay quiet. We say no harm was intended, it’s no big deal, we decide we don’t want to cause a stink, and we move on. We know if we do speak up we’ll be derided as too sensitive, too abrasive, too unfair, too something, and we’ll be accused of imagining things. Speaking up is a huge hassle and women tend to hate doing it.

      So when women speak up, please, just believe us. Even if you can’t grok to it right away, or you think it shouldn’t be bothersome. Just assume women can competently and accurately describe what we experience, and that we have the right to decide for ourselves what is and is not bothersome.

      • EchoGirl September 8, 2017, 10:23 pm

        It’s also worth noting that things can be sexist (or at least based on sexist norms) without the speaker intending to be sexist. It’s not about people just deciding to call women “honey” to put them down deliberately so much as it has to do with the subconscious norms that are imprinted on us.

        • Kelly Taylor September 11, 2017, 8:36 am

          This. ALL of this!

    • iwadasn September 8, 2017, 10:43 pm

      I’m a woman and I agree with you. If someone calls everyone, regardless of gender, by a nickname/term of endearment because that’s the norm for their age group, region, culture, etc., why would I cry sexism when they’re treating me the same way they treat men? That’s literally the opposite of sexism.

  • Jackie September 6, 2017, 5:28 pm

    As a cashier, we tend to use Hun or Sweety, not as terms of endearment, or to be offensive, but sometimes to not sound so rough, but more kind, I think. Sir or Ma’am can sound more, I’m not sure how to explain it from my point of view, cold, I think. We, as a group, have never had any complaints from our customers for using Hun or Sweety. I, myself, would rather hear Sweety or Hun, than Ma’am. Ma’am sounds so harsh to me. I do like to use Miss Lady or Mister as well.

  • SamiHami September 7, 2017, 7:21 am

    In a world of snowflakes, Judd is a blizzard. I really think her offense is faked so she can keep her name in the headlines. She hasn’t done anything particularly relevant in a long time and seems to be trying to rebrand herself as some sort of warrior for women. I think she is failing, though. She isn’t coming across as strong and fierce and righteous–to me, she seems to be a shrill and angry person. It is really hard to take her seriously.

    • Lyn September 8, 2017, 3:34 pm

      I agree 100%!

  • Kirsten September 7, 2017, 7:46 am

    The comments on the facebook video are absolutely vile. Woman objects to sexism therefore deserves to be abused is something I am so fed up of.

    I disagree with admin about expecting workers to ask me how my day has been. They don’t really care, and it’s none of their business anyway. All I want is a hello, total and a thank you & goodbye.

  • bambi_beth September 7, 2017, 9:48 am

    I have always used sir, ma’am, and folks. I won’t use “guys” because it’s gendered, but so are sir and ma’am. They infer an assumption of gender, but I don’t know what term is better for direct interaction with individuals.

    I think people who say they don’t like “sir” or ma’am” because of an age thing or because they “work for a living” or any other reason are rather self involved. It’s a social convention that conveys respectful direct interaction with someone whose name you do not know. Much better than overly familiar terms (and I am from the capital of “hon”).

    • iwadasn September 8, 2017, 10:44 pm

      “Guys” has been considered genderless for several decades now.

  • Cor September 8, 2017, 6:25 pm

    I walked into a buffet restaurant the other day and said “Hi Honey!” The cashier said, “Hi! How can I help you?” I then started laughing as my husband, who had driven separately and who I had actually been greeting, stepped over from the bench he was sitting on. The cashier laughed too and said she was so used to being called things like that that it didn’t phase her that I had said it.

    (And to be clear, I would *never* call someone I wasn’t intimate with one of those names. I really, really hate when people do that to me.)

  • Charlotte Morden September 9, 2017, 12:14 pm

    I tend to prefer to be called a pet name rather than my given, because I feel my given is a personal part of me. If I tell you my first name or invite you to call me by such, that is one thing. Otherwise, don’t.

  • Cheryl September 9, 2017, 9:29 pm

    I am an MD and get called Doc, Dr. X, and Doc Cheryl at work and all of these are fine. I only object to Miss/Mrs. X in a professional setting because you can’t convince me those same people call their male physicians Mr.X. In 40 years, I have never heard one of my male colleagues called Mr. or heard one of them complain about it. In a social setting, I don’t insist on my professional title, and don’t care one way or another if someone calls me Doc or Doc/ Dr. X or Doc Cheryl or just Cheryl.

    • Kelly Taylor September 11, 2017, 8:39 am

      I posted this elsewhere, but this is exactly the same in academia, too. Female professors not only get called “Mrs.” all the time, we often end up having to argue with male students when we insist on being addressed as “Dr.”

      This does not happen with our male colleagues. Not only are they usually default “Dr.” even if they don’t have a PhD., but the few times a “Mr.” has been corrected to “Dr.,” not only do the students not argue, they actually are ashamed and apologize.

    • NostalgicGal September 12, 2017, 1:11 am

      A woman veterinarian in a three vet clinic that I used, had a second engraved name tag that said “Yes I AM the doctor.” because she was tired of everyone assuming she was the tech or assistant. Even though her other tag said “DR. (name & name) DVM” on it.

  • Belle Boyd September 12, 2017, 1:41 pm

    It is actually very common in the south to refer to everyone as honey, dear, darlin’, sugar, etc. Most of us were brought up on it and they are nothing more than expressions of friendliness. We aren’t being condescending or patronizing, we’re just being warm, welcoming, and friendly.

    What I find hilarious about the whole Ashley Judd story is that she is a southerner and she was in a southern airport. She has been exposed to this kind of talk all her life as an expression of friendliness, yet she chose to have a hissy fit over what was probably just a fellow Southerner being friendly and making conversation, bless her heart.

  • Donna September 12, 2017, 4:25 pm

    You have to decide how much energy you are going to expend in these situations. If it doesn’t cost you–hard cash, work position- its usually not worth the effort. In fact, being underestimated can be a useful tool. Just ask the car salesmen who have dealt with me.

  • Lerah99 October 4, 2017, 11:25 am

    My mom is a silver and goldsmith who also creates gallery pieces out of copper and enamel.

    Several years ago she went into one of the big box hardware stores looking for a metal file and a rasp.
    She flagged down a male employee and asked “Excuse me, where do you keep the metal files?”
    He responded, “Metal file? Oh, like for your nails. We don’t do manicures here sweetheart. Try the beauty supply store.”

    My mother was not amused and asked for his manager. The male employee loudly complained about her being a b-word and insisting he was just trying to make a joke.

  • karen kay April 4, 2019, 6:37 pm

    I was just called darling today by a stranger and I’m still angry. I corrected the person and she continued to be rude and disrespectful towards me. I am a senior and it really po’s me when someone doesn’t talk to me with respect, as an elder, or treats me like I’m a moron and in their way. I wish time was on my side to see some of you when you are older and the first time that some one treated you like this. Thankfully I’ve lived long enough to see that if you don’t learn the lesson the first time that it will come back to you harder and faster the next time and keep coming back until you learn. I think it’s called what goes around…