Would You Let This Man Call You "Sweetie"?

Illustration for article titled Would You Let This Man Call You "Sweetie"?

A couple of days ago, Barack Obama went on a textile factory tour in Allentown, Pennsylvania (where, more than 200 years after the Industrial Revolution, most of the low-level employees are still women). The Democratic presidential candidate shook hands and, by many accounts, nearly charmed the pants off of half the employees. One thing he also did: he called one of those female employees "sweetie."

Pretty much everyone ignored that, until Bonnie Erbe at U.S. News & World Report pointed out that using the word "sweetie" is just ever-so-slightly offensive. As an Northeastern girl now living on the border of the South, I cringe when people call me "sweetie" — but I know women who don't mind at all. Is it a regional thing? Or is it just always an obnoxious diminutive? And why did it take two days for anyone to notice?


Obama's 'Sweetie' Problem [US News]
Obama Gets "Very Flirtatious" At Campaign Stop [Huffington Post]

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Context. If I were called sweetie by a superior in a professional setting, I would be hugely offended. If the check out girl/boy calls me "mami" (and mine does) I love it. If some old guy on the subway calls me sweetie, it's okay, too. I call people "sweetie" or "honey' all the time. Parallel-level co-workers (or friends at work), friends, if someone has said something nice to me i will call them "sweetie" or something. But I wouldn't say it in a professioanl setting, with someone I didn't know, or, say, if I were running for president and women tend to be voting more for the other candidate...