Author Topic: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?  (Read 585 times)

mahagonny

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3725
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2022, 04:01:57 PM »
The lesson I would take from Kaysixteen's experience, partly because my own experience bears this out, is that it is women who keep these terms in circulation and then also reserve the right to take offense when they are on the receiving end.

ETA: Not that you asked, but I honestly don't think I mind being called 'dear' or such. Maybe I don't notice the condescension, or choose to ignore it. I'm more worried about sexual harassment accusations. I guess not everyone has a DEI staff like ours. On steroids, they're always pissed off about 'inequity' and the faculty union follows in lockstep. Constantly finding new ways to get in your face.

I don't understand why being called honey or dear is so annoying.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2022, 04:46:46 PM by mahagonny »

Vark

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2022, 04:35:34 PM »
Mahoganny:
I do not know any women who use the term, but I assume that those who do so would not take offense at being called "dear." As other posters have pointed out, it is a cultural norm (a very old-fashioned one, I might add) in certain geographic areas. Unfortunately, usage of the term has spread.

I object to being called "dear" primarily because it is presumptively familiar and condescending, whether intentionally so or not. Although it would be nice to spend a few moments kindly informing users why the term is objectionable, I would settle for a quick tactful response that would indicate that I feel the word is inappropriate.

mahagonny

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3725
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2022, 10:14:04 PM »
Mahoganny:
I do not know any women who use the term, but I assume that those who do so would not take offense at being called "dear." As other posters have pointed out, it is a cultural norm (a very old-fashioned one, I might add) in certain geographic areas. Unfortunately, usage of the term has spread.

I object to being called "dear" primarily because it is presumptively familiar and condescending, whether intentionally so or not. Although it would be nice to spend a few moments kindly informing users why the term is objectionable, I would settle for a quick tactful response that would indicate that I feel the word is inappropriate.

I think I understand. I don't have an answer. If a stranger calls me something I don't like, I just avoid that stranger. If someone I have occasional contact with called me something I don't like, I might shake my head while smiling and say 'it's "Mahagonny."' After a few times that would probably work. Maybe that will help you.
I just think there is a gender inequality thing going on with affectionate terms today. A man, especially a white man, is like the opposite of teflon. He's velcro. Almost any accusation sticks immediately. Racist, sexist, harassing, etc. It bugs me that women can call you 'honey' or 'dear' and while it wouldn't bother me, I know that if I complained publicly about it I would get laughed at, yet I shouldn't use those terms.

Caracal

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2779
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2022, 06:25:16 AM »
Mahoganny:
I do not know any women who use the term, but I assume that those who do so would not take offense at being called "dear." As other posters have pointed out, it is a cultural norm (a very old-fashioned one, I might add) in certain geographic areas. Unfortunately, usage of the term has spread.

I object to being called "dear" primarily because it is presumptively familiar and condescending, whether intentionally so or not. Although it would be nice to spend a few moments kindly informing users why the term is objectionable, I would settle for a quick tactful response that would indicate that I feel the word is inappropriate.

I don't really agree that is either old fashioned or condescending. There are contexts in which it would be. If I called a student "dear" that would certainly be condescending and inappropriate. However, that isn't the kind of context you're talking about. When people use dear or honey or other endearments in service contexts, its really about expressing care. The person waiting your table is taking on the role of someone who is taking care of you and the dear suggests they are doing so in a comfortable familiar context. Using sir or ma'am can feel stiff and also implies a kind of subservience as opposed to caretaking. It's also probably just kind of convenient. There's no risk of misgendering anyone and causing offense if you just call everyone dear.

People aren't just making this up, this exists within a cultural and linguistic context. What does it mean if you object to it, or make some snide "comeback?" Well, I'd say you're basically saying "don't pretend we know each other, you're just here to wait the table." That's how it will be taken anyway. Language is shared. You can find the use of dear annoying, but that doesn't make it offensive and you're going to look like the jerk if you go around objecting to an innocuous form of address just because it feels unfamiliar to you.

Kron3007

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 914
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2022, 09:17:45 AM »
I grew up in an area where this is not really used anymore and many would find offensive.  I then moved South, and had it happen a lot.  From what I could tell, when they used it, it was far from condescending and they were just being friendly.  Ironically, when I was down there it seemed people would either be overly formal (sir/ma'am) or extra familiar (dear/honey).  Regardless, this whole issue really depends on the context.






Hegemony

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1258
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2022, 01:23:16 PM »
The woman at the local ethnic shop where I used to live always called me (and everyone else) "my love" — "I'll have it in stock on Tuesday, my love" — and I really liked it.

Whether you like it or loathe it, I don't think being "deared" rises to the level of offense. People do things we would rather they didn't do all the time in every direction — it is a useful life skill to let the minor ones go.

Langue_doc

  • Flâneur par excellence
  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2712
  • "Not all those who wander are lost."
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2022, 02:38:22 PM »
Mahoganny:
I do not know any women who use the term, but I assume that those who do so would not take offense at being called "dear." As other posters have pointed out, it is a cultural norm (a very old-fashioned one, I might add) in certain geographic areas. Unfortunately, usage of the term has spread.

I object to being called "dear" primarily because it is presumptively familiar and condescending, whether intentionally so or not. Although it would be nice to spend a few moments kindly informing users why the term is objectionable, I would settle for a quick tactful response that would indicate that I feel the word is inappropriate.

I don't really agree that is either old fashioned or condescending. There are contexts in which it would be. If I called a student "dear" that would certainly be condescending and inappropriate. However, that isn't the kind of context you're talking about. When people use dear or honey or other endearments in service contexts, its really about expressing care. The person waiting your table is taking on the role of someone who is taking care of you and the dear suggests they are doing so in a comfortable familiar context. Using sir or ma'am can feel stiff and also implies a kind of subservience as opposed to caretaking. It's also probably just kind of convenient. There's no risk of misgendering anyone and causing offense if you just call everyone dear.

People aren't just making this up, this exists within a cultural and linguistic context. What does it mean if you object to it, or make some snide "comeback?" Well, I'd say you're basically saying "don't pretend we know each other, you're just here to wait the table." That's how it will be taken anyway. Language is shared. You can find the use of dear annoying, but that doesn't make it offensive and you're going to look like the jerk if you go around objecting to an innocuous form of address just because it feels unfamiliar to you.

I'm used to people using terms of endearment in a service context. One of my specialists greets his female patients with a cheery "Hi sweetie, how are you?". I've never found this demeaning or insulting, mainly because I have a very good relationship with this physician, and also because he greets me like a long-lost friend. The tire guy (who either owns the small shop or is the head employee there), although much younger than me, invariably addresses me as "dear". This is someone quite trustworthy because on a few occasions he told me that the car didn't need any work/parts, so there were no charges. The older employees at Home Depot have addressed me as "dear"; here again they do so in the context of helping me find certain tools or responding to my questions regarding the proper tool for certain jobs. It's usually women who address me as "honey" or "hon"; here again, there is no question of disrespect, but only the desire to help me in a store/diner setting. Very often people use these terms to signal their willingness to help, and also to treat you as a valued customer.

paultuttle

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 361
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2022, 07:49:13 AM »
Being a tall, deep-voiced, straight-appearing gay Southern man, I have to confess that I've deployed "honey," "sugar," and other such overly-sweet diminutives a not insignificant number of times over the years against (who else?) straight male homophobes.

Freaks them the hell out or else ticks them off abominably, let me tell you.

Either way, doing that eventually makes the point that I'm a man, not a woman, and therefore not subject to what I might label "collateral misogyny" (in this culture) merely because I happen to be gay.

(Apparently, it's more of a slam to deploy those diminutives when, say, beating them in a footrace, showing them how to change a tire or drive a stick, or [best of all] standing right next to them and looking way, way down.)
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 07:51:47 AM by paultuttle »

MarathonRunner

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2022, 01:59:49 PM »
If you are visiting Newfoundland, that’s pretty standard, along with “my love.” My Newfie husband was entertained the first time we visited Newfoundland together due to my reaction to “my dear” and “my love.” That’s just the local language. Although I remain pleased that James Doohan called me “sweetie” when I met him at a Star Trek convention before his death. Such a Canadian gentleman.

kaysixteen

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1093
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2022, 07:23:42 PM »
Random points:

1) This is 2022.  Where exactly would it be considered acceptable professional practice for a physician to address a patient as 'sweetie'?  Now I get that some of his regular patients may know he's going to do so and like it, for Dr. Strange to do this to an unknown patient, or even an existing patient whose preference for such terms of address he does not actually know, well...?

2) About 12 years ago I recall teaching a class at the Christian school I worked at, where I told the students, juniors and seniors, wrt appropriate college practices, 'never ever address a female professor as 'Ms., 'Mrs.', or 'Miss', unless specifically instructed *by her* to do so'.   Did I do something wrong?

3) Following up on the point I was making (implying) to those kids, is that in situations of social intercourse where the people are (especially strangers), but in any case of different social rank in the situation (such as middle aged patients vs. 20-ish receptionists), the onus is on the social inferior in said situation to use appropriately respectful terms until and unless told not to keep on doing so.

4) I confess that I am a fan of 'Miss Manners'.  She made the point explicitly, something which is SOP in traditional middle (and higher) class culture here in New England, but maybe less so elsewhere in the country, is that the inferior must wait for permission to change from using titles to address a superior, to using their first name, must never ask for such permission, and must not take offense if permission is never forthcoming.

nebo113

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #25 on: September 27, 2022, 06:26:47 AM »
via K16


1) This is 2022.  Where exactly would it be considered acceptable professional practice for a physician to address a patient as 'sweetie'?  Now I get that some of his regular patients may know he's going to do so and like it, for Dr. Strange to do this to an unknown patient, or even an existing patient whose preference for such terms of address he does not actually know, well...?

Local anesthesia in office for eye procedure.  Excruciatingly painful (and ultimately did not work).  Board certified opthamologist calls me sweetie.  From the depths of deep pain, I ask him not to.  He does it again.  I switched to another doc in the practice.  Asshole.

mahagonny

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3725
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #26 on: September 27, 2022, 06:39:18 AM »
Being a tall, deep-voiced, straight-appearing gay Southern man, I have to confess that I've deployed "honey," "sugar," and other such overly-sweet diminutives a not insignificant number of times over the years against (who else?) straight male homophobes.

Freaks them the hell out or else ticks them off abominably, let me tell you.


Doesn't it occur to you that you might be doing a disservice to other gay men who don't have a taste for your kind of mischief?

Volhiker78

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 182
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2022, 08:02:53 AM »
My thoughts on K16’s questions. 

1.  Never. 

2.  No, although I wouldn’t have limited it to females.  I told my daughter going to college as a freshman this fall that she should address all her teachers as “Professor …..’ regardless of their gender, rank or age.  They could ask to be called something else if they preferred.

4. I’ve  never read Miss Manners but I suspect some of her advice has become dated. My current experience with graduate students / faculty at an R1 school is that it is fine for everyone to use first names. I don’t think either the faculty nor grad students consider it rude for the student to address a faculty member by first name. 

Kron3007

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 914
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2022, 10:07:31 AM »
Random points:

1) This is 2022.  Where exactly would it be considered acceptable professional practice for a physician to address a patient as 'sweetie'?  Now I get that some of his regular patients may know he's going to do so and like it, for Dr. Strange to do this to an unknown patient, or even an existing patient whose preference for such terms of address he does not actually know, well...?

2) About 12 years ago I recall teaching a class at the Christian school I worked at, where I told the students, juniors and seniors, wrt appropriate college practices, 'never ever address a female professor as 'Ms., 'Mrs.', or 'Miss', unless specifically instructed *by her* to do so'.   Did I do something wrong?

3) Following up on the point I was making (implying) to those kids, is that in situations of social intercourse where the people are (especially strangers), but in any case of different social rank in the situation (such as middle aged patients vs. 20-ish receptionists), the onus is on the social inferior in said situation to use appropriately respectful terms until and unless told not to keep on doing so.

4) I confess that I am a fan of 'Miss Manners'.  She made the point explicitly, something which is SOP in traditional middle (and higher) class culture here in New England, but maybe less so elsewhere in the country, is that the inferior must wait for permission to change from using titles to address a superior, to using their first name, must never ask for such permission, and must not take offense if permission is never forthcoming.

"Social inferior"? 

I think you woke up in the wrong century...


Langue_doc

  • Flâneur par excellence
  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2712
  • "Not all those who wander are lost."
Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2022, 11:04:02 AM »
Random points:

1) This is 2022.  Where exactly would it be considered acceptable professional practice for a physician to address a patient as 'sweetie'?  Now I get that some of his regular patients may know he's going to do so and like it, for Dr. Strange to do this to an unknown patient, or even an existing patient whose preference for such terms of address he does not actually know, well...?


Terms of address, for the most part, depend on the context. This is a physician with an avuncular demeanor, who didn't use this term during the first couple of appointments but only after that. I also recall that this physician no longer addresses me as "sweetie", probably because the practice was swallowed up by a large hospital conglomerate, and is therefore required to follow current protocols. We still have a nice chat at the beginning of the appointment session before getting into the medical details, and he still has the same avuncular demeanor.

I had no problems with this particular physician addressing me as "sweetie" because the physicians in the previous practice, although professional, made you wait for exactly two hours in the waiting room regardless of the time of the appointment or the day of the week. In addition, I was also getting treated for heart problems in the old practice. Much to my surprise as well as that of my PCP in the new (now 12 years old) practice, I didn't have any heart problems. In the overall scheme of things, getting addressed as "sweetie" is far better than being treated for a non-existent medical condition.