You Don’t Get to Call Me ‘Sweetie’

…or “honey” or “hun” or “dear” unless you have had cause to hug me or knew me when I still wore my hair in pigtails. You don’t get to call me “love” unless you actually love me or maybe are British because I feel like this is a thing with that accent. (Aly? Any insight on this?) And you definitely definitely don’t get to call me “Princess” ever, no matter who you are.

But if you are a middle-aged man* calling into the office where I work, you do not get to call me sweetie.

Maybe my phone voice—you know what I mean—makes me sound young. It’s possible. Maybe it’s “girly” and you’re picturing someone with frosted pink lips filing her nails and snapping gum. Hey, I like pink and I like gum. What I don’t like is you infantilizing me.

It’s not endearing. It’s not kindness. Kindness would be to treat me like the college educated, rent paying, job working woman I am.


Not girl.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here. So: Dear middle-aged men, thank you in advance for not treating me like a child. For not insulting my intelligence. For not taking a few sound waves coming from thousands of miles away on a phone line as an invitation to make assumptions about me. You are calling a place of work from your place of work, and whether I am 15 or 67, a man or a woman, sound like a professor or a chain smoker, let’s just keep things as they should be: professional.

I am not your sweetie or your dear. I am not your anything. If you’re calling me a name that you would never dream of calling my male coworkers or your boss, then…why are you calling me that exactly?

The more you know, the more you can stop being that butthead who gets talked about when the receiver slams down.

—a PSA from the voice on the end of the line

*No, not all men are like this. No, it’s not okay for a woman to call me these names either. But I say middle-aged men because I’ve had too many of these calls to keep track of and, in my experience, men are the worst perpetrators.

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