Someone gave me an ‘after you, love’ the other day, and it set me thinking. Terms of endearment like this come up in the news every now and again, and the debate rages on about whether or not they are sexist.
I consider myself to be a feminist, but on this occasion I was ok with being called ‘love’, which made me think what a minefield this whole subject is.
There are obviously times when it definitely isn’t ok. I die inside if someone calls me sweetheart at work (thankfully, a rare occurrence). It just feels so belittling. But is that more unprofessional than sexist?
Any one from Nottingham will be familiar with the term ‘duck’ – which is interchangeable with ‘love’ as a greeting or term of endearment here. Maybe it’s because it’s part of my hometown’s history and culture, but I think it would be really sad if people stopped saying this to each other. Interestingly, this is sometimes used for men as well as women – perhaps partly why it makes me smile rather than have to bite my tongue!
Like most words, it’s how we use them that matter. When a kindly old man lets you get on the bus first, it would be unfair to give him a ranty lecture about how to speak to women. But if someone tries to put you in your place with a ‘love’ or ‘sweetheart’, I won’t blame you for losing your cool.
What do you think – do you mind people calling you love or sweetheart?