Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Sweet Rebuttal

Adrienne wrote in with a woman's take on Sen. Obama's usage of the word 'sweetie' that runs counter to my argument. She writes:

Now, granted, I'll give him the "it's just a bad habit" excuse, but that means he needs to make an active effort to stop saying sweetie in the future.
Here's a simple rubric, from my perspective: "dear" or "sweetie" or anything similar is okay and innocuous when it comes from a) a relative; b) a good friend; c) a fabulous gay man; or d) a man over the age of 65.
Coming from any other man, especially in a formal or professional context, it is grating, condescending, and really quite obnoxious, even if he doesn't necessarily mean it that way. But the effect is to minimize what you're trying to say, because you're a woman.
I know this is one of those things that gets feminists branded as humorless, but fuck it all. This isn't like holding a door open, which is common courtesy. This is more akin to catcalling or something--being treated w/ disrespect because you're a woman.
I still think it was an innocent enough phrase, or alternatively, used specifically to appeal to Mid-Western white attitudes. A word like "sweetie" is certainly something that a lot of white men in middle America will identify with. Even so, Adrienne does have a point (damn her eyes) about it's usage in a professional sense.