Sir, Don't Call Me Sugar
My cousin and I walked in the paint store last week and the stereotypical southern redneck white man (overalls, confederate flag hat, tobacco chewing, racist, sexist) exclaimed "ugh, it must be 'Girl Day' in Walmart'. He said it twice which made no sense because we weren't in Walmart. We were in the paint store. Dumb ass.
He literally could not stand the fact that the cashier was a woman and the only other patrons in the store at the time he was there happened to be women. His disgust shone through. Because it's Black History Month and it also happened to be Black Panther week, I had zero fux to give this jerk and looked him dead in his face, puckered my lips and shook my head. He then amended his bullshit and says, "whoops, I mean 'Woman Day' - if I don't call y'all women you might kick my ass." My cousin says, "you're damn right." He then finished checking out and told the cashier, "thank you, Sugar" and left. All "us girls" in the store immediately looked at each other, rolled our eyes and shook our heads as if to say, "did you see/hear that asshole?"
That 20-30 second encounter left me so much to unpack. I will gloss over the obvious - why they hell does it matter that women have the "audacity" to shop in "your" paint store - and I will instead focus my attention on his final comment...
Dear men - unless you're talking to your wife, daughter or granddaughter, don't call a woman "sugar". Not only is it inappropriately familiar, but it's demeaning as hell. I know some of you may think I'm being too sensitive. Nah - I'm not willing to agree with you on that. I'm even willing to concede that there are some times when perfect strangers calling you "sugar" "honey" or "dear" is to be expected (read: an equal opportunity waitress at an East Texas truck stop diner who uses the term for both men and women), but in NO other cases will I accept that strangers should feel comfortable (or think I'm comfortable with) calling me "sugar".
A judge once called me "sweetie" after I made one the most legally sound and persuasive arguments I've ever delivered in a court room. What's worse is that while I was making the argument he sat there looking down at me from his bench with his head rested in his hand and smirking. He was clearly amused by the idea of me. And that pissed me off. His "OK, thanks sweetie" translated into "you are so adorable with your lawyer glasses and lawyer suit and lawyer argument, little girl." He might as well have come down from the bench, patted me on my head and gave me some gummy bears. He's a jerk. And he didn't get re-elected...because karma.
I'm not saying that it's wrong for men to adore women and find us endearing because we are, damnit! I just want you to do it from afar and not be so in-my-face with your demeaning comments. Look, I'm fully aware that terms of endearment are a thing. I just find it horribly un-ironic that women are usually on the receiving end of these sexist monikers. In a world where women - specifically young women - struggle to be taken seriously in every part of their lives, calling me "sugar" or some variation of that is not only unhelpful, but it's a subtle way of putting a woman back in her proverbial "place." And I for one am tired of it.
Do better, sir...