Don’t Call Me Sweetheart

Twenty years ago, I was a dealer in an antique collective with 35 dealers. I was 45; everyone else was 65. My prices were so low that the other dealers shopped my room, bought my stuff, marked it up and put it in their rooms.

One Sunday, I was working my required 12-5 shift when two young guys came in trying to sell something. I don’t remember what. I just remember them calling us girls. First of all, I was offended that I was being lumped in with women much older than me. Secondly, who did they think they were calling those ladies girls? Where was the respect?

When I had three small kids, I went to a male podiatrist about getting orthotics for my shoes. The waiting room was packed, and I had to wait twenty to thirty minutes each time to be seen.  It turned out that I had a Plantar wart on the bottom of my foot. Each time I returned for the doctor to look at the wart, I asked about getting some orthotics. Each time he said the next appointment. Finally, the third time I saw him, after waiting for an hour to be seen, he said the wart was gone and I was good to go.

“What about the orthotics?” I asked.

“You’ll need to schedule another appointment, sweetheart,” he said.

He waltzed out the door before I could even react.

I was so angry I chewed out the receptionist, which in hindsight, was wrong. It wasn’t her fault she worked for an a**hole. I never went back.

Then a male gynecologist implied that I had cancer when I did not. I told him I was going for a second opinion before surgery. 

“Let me know, sweetheart,” he said as I left.

What an a**hole, trying to scare me into a needless surgery.  I never went back.

Calling a female patient sweetheart, whether she is younger or older, is a professional man’s way of putting her down. If you are a man, you can’t relate, so don’t try.  Millennials can’t imagine this happening. Believe me, it has happened way too often to too many of us.

I’m so glad that younger men are not using derrogatory words to patronize women.  If you’re not a woman and you want to disagree with me, ask your wife, girlfriend, mother or sister what it feels like. If it hasn’t happened to them, they’ve either forgotten or they are too young.

Heck, I don’t even like it when women call me sweetheart, even though it feels different, still condescending, but without as much of a sting. It’s not a man putting an argumentative or smart or competent woman in her place. It’s a woman being dismissive, which is not great, but she is stuck being a woman, too, and isn’t being supportive.

Stuck being a woman? I didn’t mean that! Being a woman is great. I love being a woman. As a matter of fact, many of my doctors — gynecologist, podiatrist, primary, neurologist, everyone except my dentist– are women. 

Condescending male doctors? Who needs them?

Not me!

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