Don’t Call Me Baby–Because I’m Not Yours

don't call me baby or I'll get this angry

You think you’re being cute? I think you’re being a jerk. | Source: Shutterstock

Honey. Baby. Sweetie. Cutie. What do these four words have in common? They are all NOT my name, but lately I’ve noticed how many times complete strangers have called out to me, talked to me, referred to me, as the aforementioned words. And it’s not just me, either. I’ve heard plenty of people call their waitresses in restaurants and female shop workers “honey,” too. It used to be that dealing with cat calls from a construction site was a rite of passage for a young girl, but these days the passive aggressive sweet nothings are being called out a lot closer to home . . . by the pizza delivery guy, the over-friendly bus driver, a new co-worker, the list goes on and on and it’s pissing me off.

this is a baby

This is what a baby looks like. | Source: Shutterstock

Out of the right mouth, “baby” and “honey” are terms of endearment. One of my best friends always sends me text’s that say “love ya sweetie” and my mom always calls me “honey,” but coming out of the mouth of a relative stranger these words take on a completely different meaning. They’re insults disguised as compliments, a vocabulary wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s infantilizing–I mean, you might call a five year old “honey,” but to anyone old enough to wear big-girl clothes, it’s degrading.

your waitress is not a baby

She’s a grown woman. NOT a baby. | Source: Shutterstock

Naturally, this name calling is a phenomenon that only happens to females. Could you even imagine calling a guy you didn’t know “Babe” in casual conversation? Or referring to the man interviewing you for a job as “Cutie?” Nooooo!!! We would never do that, because it would be unprofessional and seen as insulting. So, why I ask is it okay for the opposite sex? It gives a false sense of intimacy to a total non-relationship. We are not friends, we are not a couple, you probably don’t even know my name, so I’m thinking cutie-honey-sweetie-baby is not an appropriate moniker.

Don’t call me baby (or any of those other names!)–even if you say it with the best of intentions. It’s demeaning and insulting even if you say it with a smile. As they say “You catch more bees with honey,” and this bee prefers to be called by her name!

Do you get mad when strangers call you “baby” or “honey”–or do you think it’s totally okay? Tell me all about it in the comments!

This Girl Has Has Enough Of Cat Calling. Have You?

Posted in: Beliefs
Tags: , , , ,
  • Amanda

    I agree with you on this, with one exception. It depends who is doing the pet naming. Aaron is very astute to say “On the other hand, I’m well aware of the power dynamics at play in such give-and-take.” When these pet names feel icky is when they are coming from someone with a perceived status of authority/dominance. When a man, whom I don’t know well, calls me sweetie, honey, sweetheart, etc., it feels as if they are looking down on me, exercising their dominance over me. As if to say, “You’re just some cute little thing buzzing around, I don’t take you seriously.” Especially in a professional arena I believe pet names are a huge no-no.

  • Wendy

    I’m female and it doesn’t bother me at all, in fact, I think it’s nice. People are and get angry over literally everything…maybe it’s time to just relax a little.

  • Michele

    I TOTALLY agree…if you are not my man, mother, grandmother or at least old enough to be my mother…don’t do it. I will call you out right on the spot. From a psychological standpoint, I believe that for women, in some twisted sort of way, it becomes a power play or is meant to be condescending in an instance where for some reason or another they feel threatened, inferior or intimidated. I’m not playing that game with you. I think it has a lot to do with their own esteem level in particular situations. They may not admit it, they may not even know it runs that deep but in every instance where I stop someone mid-sentence, my theory seems to have some validity. Aside from all of that, if it is in the workplace…it is just plain ole unprofessional with a few exceptions. The woman working at a diner or truck stop or, at times if the person is hispanic or latino (often times in these cultures, those terms of endearment are frequently used), you may get a pass.

  • Consuela

    Being called out of my name is truly disrespectful. I am a hiring manager and an applicant replied to an interview invitation. She replied, “Hello Sweetie!” It was an instant rejection in my mind but I plan to educate her on the proper way to address her boss.

  • Allison

    It’s about respecting the feelings of others. My name is not dear, sweetie or hon. I am from the South and my parents raised us to address others properly. Terms of endearment are offensive and disrespectful. To say ugly things to me when I tell you that my name is Allison and not hon or whatever, is dismissing my feelings.

  • Annony

    I hate when this male co-worker calls me babe, baby and sweetie.

    Like the other day he was like “Something’s bothering you, talk to me.” I said no,he said “Why sweetie?” and then I said no again, he said “Baby, why?” and again I said no and he said “Babe, something’s bugging you”

    I’m not a babe, I’m a girl with a name.:/

  • Toni

    I don’t like it – especially if another woman around the same category calls you baby this, baby that, baby…it’s demeaning and I would correct them right there on the spot… and tell them to stop! ironically this happened to me while I was serving at Vacation Bible School today..

  • Inez

    I feel the same and today I told the painter and decorator never to call me honey again. He’s done it twice this last week and it gives me the creeps! I also made sure I said it in earshot of his assistant. He tried to make excuses about forgetting my name so I reminded him of my name again, I didn’t even believe that crap. Since then he’s been off with me and seems pissed off and all I can say is bugger off Honey!!!

    • Dylan

      I have the opposite problem with these women calling me honey. Just because I have cash doesn’t mean you can slut yourself around me!

  • marie

    Very disrespectful to refer to an older woman (to woman) with these terms; from a man that does not know you is not acceptable. I get offended, and do not like it, it’s demeaning. They have obviously not been taught manners. I do not consider myself any better than another, just dont want to feel that I am talked down to, nor called a name that is not warranted. I am an attractive lady, and want to be treated as such. Ms, miss, or my name would be fine. I have been to several locations in the states, and going South I have noticed more of this behavior. Just my opinion.

  • Nikki

    My principal said watch out,Sweetie to me the other day when he was about to bump into me.

  • Patrick

    To Alison Goodman, wow, you must be so sexually frustrated that you had to write an article about men calling you ‘sweetie’ ‘baby’ or ‘honey’… Guess what, get over yourself. They are terms of endearment and when a guy says that to a girl, it means nothing. All it means is they are at a level of comfort with themselves and try to make the mood friendly, that’s all. But you had to take it to a level where it does not belong and over analysis it. I live in Los Angeles, the least friendliest place in the world, and yet I hear “sweetie” ‘honey’ all the time and no one really has a problem with it. True story, I met a woman a few years back, we dated and I called her ‘babe’…she got pissed and said for me to never call her ‘babe’. Guess what, I never called. Six months later she calls me asking to go out with her. I said sorry, but I’m dating someone else and she doesn’t mind me calling her babe. True story. A week ago I meat a lady, and I texted her asking ‘what are you up to sweetie’? She texts me back ‘don’t call me sweetie’ WHAT A MOOD KILLER!!!. I don’t know if I’ll call her again. Only problem is she was explaining to me how unfriendly people in LA are and that they need to chill out. I think she needs to take her own advise. Now for all the ladies that disagree with me. Go to your bedroom, pull out your toys, because you have no man, and play. Good Luck

    • Lanah Nelson

      Couldn’t agree more. Nothing wrong with it and I’m a female. Women to other women call each other babe, sweetie etc etc.

      Sounds like yet another thing for women to complain about

    • Annony

      The only term I don’t like is babe.I think only someone’s girlfriend/boyfriend should be calling them babe.

      Which is why it makes me shutter when my male co-worker calls me babe or baby.
      I’m not his babe or I’m his co-worker.XD

    • Dhills

      You clearly have a tiny penis.

  • Gaige Winthorpe

    I have witnessed so much ugliness in this world that something as harmless and non threatening as being called “honey” or “darling” is about as low on my list of concerns as anything could be. I am a native South Carolinian and reside in Charleston. Our city is constantly labeled as being the friendliest out of all the others. This in party is because the majority of people who live here do call strangers sweet names. The furthest thing from their mind is this would be deemed an insult in any way. For someone to deem this as degrading says to me this person thinks too highly of themselves and has yet to learn the meaning of what life is truly about. Apparently life hasn’t touched you in any significant way to the point where not only could this subject be on your mind, but to post about it.

  • Penguingirl

    There is a guy I met while I was out almost a week ago. I saw him again last weekend, we met out once to watch some sports. He is texting me many times every day and calls me, “honey” and “sweetie” in every text. To me, that is something you do maybe when you’re in a long-term relationship and we are not yet and now, we won’t be ever. I had to text him back at lunchtime and say, “Please do not call me those names, it makes me uncomfortable and I am very busy at work today.” He wrote back and said, “Sorry, I will wait for you to text me back when you are not busy.” I think the guy is too needy and that kind of name-calling was sending me that vibe. I feel so icky and I didn’t do anything. Better now that I was honest though. Hope he finds a nice woman who likes to be called “Sweetie” and “Honey” all of the time right off the bat!

  • thatonechick23

    I call everyone hun or sweetie. I don’t do it to degrade anyone. I do it to males and females. It just comes out of my mouth before I know what I’m saying. I don’t mean to offend anyone.

  • ck

    highly resent being called anything. I do not see any need to be addressed by any term or labeled period. Ma ‘am seems to simply point out one is older, which I do not appreciate. This is new bvehavior in my corbin, ky area. I often hear honey, sweetie, ma’am. I even hear older men being called honey, sweetie by sales clerks, fast food workers, or other workers in peon, low status jobs, which is not only rude, but hilarious when the men I have heard refered to this way are retired executives, war veterans, and other high status positions in their careers. This name calling says a lot more about the user of such language than they realize. If they are attempting to look superior in some way, they are sadly failing, and that ego projection is the only conclusion I believe exits. As the old saying goes, “they should get a life”.

    • mk


  • Aaron

    So, I’m a guy, live in Tennessee, love it when a Southern waitress calls me ‘hun’ or ‘baby’.

    So I like receiving such terms of endearment.

    On the other hand, I’m well aware of the power dynamics at play in such give-and-take.

    Accordingly, especially as a transplant (moved South 3 years ago) I don’t personally feel comfortable calling a grown woman ‘honey’ or ‘baby’. Instead, I’ll use “ma’am” almost exclusively, maybe “miss” if she’s really young.

    I did volunteer at a botanic garden where I was occasionally answering questions or giving directions to young children. In those settings, I would often call girls ‘darlin’ or boys ‘son’ or ‘buddy’.

    I picked up on the terms used around me. I think some things are acceptable and welcomed in the South that are verboten elsewhere, especially in big cities in the NE, Mid-Atlantic and West Coast.

    Of course, I never meant anyone any disrespect. I think that context is important and in most cases, the recipient will know whether the person saying the comment is being disrespectful or just being friendly, although I’m sure there are grey areas where it’s harder to tell.

    Which is why I’ve erred on the side of caution so far in order not to offend anyone.