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Is Using a Term of Endearment (such as Hunny and Sweetie, etc) on a Person You Don't Know Personally, a Disrespectful Act?
Society

tricitymerchants11
63 - 89
thales
7 - 7


6
Yes it is a Disrespectful Act


tricitymerchants11
May 26, 2009
Case #1
Please do not confuse the fact that it doesn't bother me. It really doesn't. It gets to me for argument purposes, and that's it.

I often drive through coffee shops (Starbucks in particular) and their way of greeting and thanking me as a customer is by saying, "Thank you sweetie, have a great day." (Male, female, all ages)

Come on now. My WIFE calls me sweetie. She calls me sweetie because she cares for me, loves me, feels comfortable with me.

Starbucks people call me sweetie because they think it's "hip" to use such terms of endearment. They don't know me personally, so why are they calling me such words that a person calls a loved one after that person has EARNED the respect?

MUCH more to come with a challenger!

(p.s., I lost this debate a long time ago and I want to reopen with new views and fresh start!)

 
tricitymerchants11
May 27, 2009
Case #2
Ok firstly, thank you Thales for accepting this debate! It couldn't have come from a better debater...we meet again!

I do see your point. However, I don't think intent has anything to do with the outcome. Let me explain:

I am 100% Italian. As most of you know, the Italian "way" when greeting someone or departing from them is to give them a hug followed by a kiss on the cheek (on one cheek or both). Some of my family does this. I, for one, do not. If I got into the habit of doing this with every person I greet, even if I am meeting them for the first time, I will eventually wind up kissing "the wrong person" and being called out on it. I refrain from doing it. I mean, why would a total stranger want my slobbery lips on their face??!?? My INTENT is nothing more than a casual "respectful" hello and "nice to meet you." But, my actions display a sense of disrespect, and rightfully so. So my way to meet and greet people is with a handshake. You can't go wrong with a handshake, ever. Sometimes, if I am introduced to someone and I sense their negative energy and sense that they are not "moving in for the shake" I will just hold back and smile and say, "Nice to meet you."

In my opinion, people need to watch how they act and what they say way moreso than the ones receiving the action.

What about Asian culture? Isn't is respectful to take your shoes off when you enter their home? I had some Asian friends growing up and that was their culture. I wasn't about to walk into their home and refuse to take my shoes off because my intent was not to disrespect them.

Why do people (especially in the workplace who deal with customers), need to call a person anything? I don't need to be called Sir, Paul, Sweetie, Hun, Tri-City, nothing! Just give me my coffee and tell me to have a great day...or to enjoy the sunshine!

I deal with customers at my work. I would never address a customer as hun or sweetie, ever. I handle writing obituaries and engagement/wedding announcements. I often speak with women around my age getting married. Who am I to say, "Thank you very much Sweetie, have a great day!" No, that's unprofessional, inappropriate, and disrespectful.

What if her fiance was there with her? Is it still ok to address her as sweetie or hunny? If they were an older couple, is it ok then? Why do we need to cherry-pick who we say it to? Would'nt the more rational and reasonable answer to that question be to just not use it on people we don't know??

I do not want to rely on using racial issues, but I feel it will aid on my stance. The "N" word with an "A" on the end. Used frequently as nothing more than a friendly term. Not only have I heard it used by black people, but also by white people to black people without a peep. Some people would find it disrespectful in every sense of the word. Some people are ok with it. You never know who you're dealing with so wouldn't the rational thing be to not use it at all??

Of course there's a history behind the word. It's a derogatory word, but people these days try to abolish the original meaning by giving a new spelling and meaning to the word. But the fact is, it offends and disrespects people.

The words Sweetie, Hun, Pumpkin, etc are words instilled into my vocabulary by my wife. I've earned those words. I will never have another wife, girlfriend, etc. so therefore I don't ever expect to hear those words out of anyone but my wife. (Of course my mom and family are the exception).

The security guard at my work walks by my cubicle every day and says, "Hey there Chief!" He means nothing by it. Still an act that should not be practiced because he's going to eventually run into the wrong person who will be offended. I suppose he knows me by now so it's ok for him to do that. But I know of people, my boss, who thinks it's disrespectful.



 
tricitymerchants11
May 27, 2009
Case #3
Thales wrote: "Because I'd really want more evidence than "That %#$%@! called me 'sweetie' in a pleasant tone while completing my order!" before making that kind of assumption."

I'm sure I won't find any such evidence on page 435 in an encyclopedia or in a "How to Address People You Don't Know" book.
Where do we draw the line though? This isn't rhetorical, it's an actual question. Can we call people Sugar Plum, Babycakes, Sweetie Pie, or are we restricted to the simple "Sweetie, and Honey?" Who gets to say what to whom? Can a sketchy looking guy (I don't think I need to elaborate on what a "sketchy" person appears to be), can he call a cute girl "Sweetie?" Does he go overboard by using "Babycakes?" That could be grounds for harrassment, but ONLY for a sketchy looking person. By his own account, his looks may not tell the full story of his intent. Maybe he was just trying to be friendly.

Should I not be disrespected if a homosexual man called me "Sweetie" or "Hun?" Yeah, sure, maybe it's their lingo and they use it on their friends. But, they are going to run into the wrong person who WILL call them out on it. I'm actually a pretty shy person and would not say anything if they did call me that. I would only address the issue with a third party.

In a country with many different types of people and cultures, it's difficult to keep up with who may get offended and disrespected, I understand. But like I said earlier, the more rational idea is to just refrain from such words unless you know a person.

 
tricitymerchants11
May 27, 2009
Case #4
Thales wrote: "But that's just the thing: that's what you think might offend people. And so to you, refraining from doing it is "rational."

I know I use this in many of my debates but it must come out again. Your stance is pretty much an "anything goes" stance. Say what you want, do what you want, act in any such way that you want to, and let the people on the receiving end fend for themselves whether they actually take it as offensive or not. Of course there are ENDLESS issues and topics where you could merely say that "some people may think that way, some may not." Then what's really debatable? Let me make some examples...

Is stoning people to death is cruel and unusual punishment? YES! (But not to other countries) Oh well, that's not debatable.

Is cutting a man's hand off because he stole something cruel and unusual punishment? YES (but not in other countries) Oh well, that's not debatable.

Is cheating on your wife so terrible? YES! (But not in other countries) Oh well, that's not debatable.

Do you see my point? There is no basis for any argument because your stance explains everything in a vague sorta way.

How do you debate something when different people do different things?

I have tried to paint different pictures of scenarios where it's clearly wrong and disrespectful for a person to call another person whatever they damn well please. But using the "people are different" stance will answer ALL arguments.

Just like, "God did it." Oh, that's it, God did it! That's the final answer. See the fish, the mountain, the stars, the ocean? GOD DID IT! No more questioning things, no more experiments, analysis, God just did it! He conjured everything from thin air.

Same with my topic. I can stand in line at Walmart and have this random woman around my age say, "Thank you sweetie (pumpkin) (cupcake) (etc)" and I'm supposed to walk off and say, "Well, maybe SHE thinks she's being respectable" when it all could have been avoided by HER not opening the door for people to take what she says offensively.

I use the same tone, the same speech, etc for each customer I deal with. Why should I talk to them as if I were talking to my wife or to my cat?!

Not only is it disrespectful, but it's unprofessional too! I'm talking about at the workplace. There should be policies in tact to not talk to customers in a controversial way.

 
tricitymerchants11
May 27, 2009
Case #5
My stance goes back to Vancam's win over my "The Customer is Always Right" debate. He won by stating that the customer is always right.

On the job, if I were to speak to a customer or client in such a controversial way, tone, etc., and they made a complaint...who's going to win that claim? The customer will.

Especially in the workplace, people need to be a lot more selective with what they choose for words, even if it's just handing a customer a coffee.

I guess it's all well and good because I'm just some uptight male who can't handle a little "Sweetie" talk from another female.

But what if the roles were reversed?

Thales, would you please answer my question from my previous post? What line is drawn as to what can be said and by who to whom?

Can a sketchy man call a woman Cupcake, Pumpkin, Sugar, or does it end with simple terms such as "Hun and Sweetie?" Does it matter if the woman is good looking? Does it matter if they are both married?

Can the choice of words be interchanged with "Sexy" or is that over the top? What about "Hot Stuff?" What are harassing words, then? And why? Does intent REALLY take the place of these words?

If at the workplace, there are many sexual harassment policies in place, why couldn't these "simple" words be construed as harassment?

To my knowledge, those words are FIRST: Disrespectful and SECOND; Grounds for Harassment.

UNWANTED and UNWELCOMED advances: The perpetrator is the one who needs to watch what he or she says, and not the receiver of such madness!


 
tricitymerchants11
May 27, 2009
Case #6
IT'S MISLEADING...

Earl- "But 'Georgie', all I did was purchase a coffee and this beautiful young women called me 'Sweetheart! I think she likes me!"

Georgie- "Don't pay any mind to that Earl, she just wants you back as a customer!'

Earl- "Pretty girls can't talk to me that way, it's misleading!"

Georgie- "Then file a complaint with the manager!"

My comic for the debate!

 
tricitymerchants11
May 27, 2009
Case #7
Thales wrote "If you intentionally do something that you think is disrespectful to someone, than it is. If you knowingly do something that the other person thinks is disrespectful, then it is"

Unless there's a mediation right then and there, how do we distinguish intent with the way it "slipped out?"

If a guy says to a good looking women, "Damn girl, you fine as hell!!" HE may think he is doing so in an innocent way but SOCIETY says it's disrespectful. You don't talk to women that way.

Is it right and respectful that women in the Middle East have to cover their faces while out in public? That's a sick and twisted and demented practice. Yeah, sure, it's the way they do it, but to decent people such as us, we know it's crazy.

We can't or SHOULDN'T be able to pick and choose what is right and wrong regardless of intention.

If I leaned over to the woman I work with right now (not knowing how she'd react to it) and said, "Damn girl, you lookin' good today SHAWTY" even if I meant it in a half-serious, half-playful manner...

...it is still disrespectful to her!


 
tricitymerchants11
May 28, 2009
Case #8
The best way I can explain my stance on this debate is this:

When something is said from a "perpetrator" to a "receiver." It's in the receiver's hands as to whether what the perpetrator said was inapprpriate, offensive, disrespectful.

It's not something that has to either be mutually accepted or in the hands of the perpetrator when deciding respect or disrespect. Let me explain:

If I am in a mall one day leisurely walking and I run into a group of "Marilyn Manson-type gothic people" (the ones with heavy makuep, long hair, etc) and I walk by and blurt out, "Is it Halloween yet?!' It was sarcastic, rhetorical, playful, but yet still a phrase that may or may not have hurt the feelings of the "receivers." The ball is in THEIR court! They have the option to either keep walking and smiling NO DISRESPECT or stopping, turning around and asking, "Did you have something to say to me?" DISRESPECT on MY part.

Another scenario, this is actually true: I am very selfconscious about the fact that I have some gray hair. Not too much, but enough to notice. My then-fiancee used to bring it up all the time and I finally said, "Listen, I know it's there, you don't have to keep reminding me" And that was the end of it. Now, if someone I had met that I hadn't seen since high school, randomly says, "Wow there, Tri, you got some grays there! Looks like you've aged a bit!"....

That is MY MY MY decision whether I take it as disrespect or not. It doesn't matter whether that person MEANT it or not, it came out as such. He is disrespecting the fact that maybe not everyone in the world would laugh at such a joke.

Would I go around and make comments about people I hadn't seen over the years by stating something that COULD EASILY be taken as offensive? No, it's safe to keep our mouths shut.

"Hey it's been ten years, and you're STILL working at the supermarket!?" The RECEIVER gets to decide whether that was disrespectful or not. It was merely intended to break the ice but instead, I could be like, "Excuse me?! Is your life so much better?"

"Hey it's been ten years, thinking about getting a haircut anytime soon?!" It's up to the receiver whether to take that offensively or not.

I just tried to paint more scenarios where intent does not fit into the equation when the end result is that the RECEIVER chooses how to take such words.


 
tricitymerchants11
May 28, 2009
Case #9
Before I rebutt what you said in argument 10, I have a question for you..

Why do we call our loved ones, close friends, family-related people SWEETIE AND HUN, when according to your stance, anyone can use those words on anyone they desire?

I don't know about you. but when I hear words sweetie and hunnie, I have this inexplainable feeling of emotion that I have EARNED those words. I was born into a family that likes to use the words, and happen to find the right girl who likes to use those words as her feeling comfortable and at ease with me.

If she were to start calling me sweetie on our first date, then I would be a little sketched out.

I feel, honestly, that those words are to be used by people who have earned the right to be used.

Same with loving someone.

Love and terms of endearment are to be EARNED and LEARNED.

The world isn't a free-for-all.

 
tricitymerchants11
May 28, 2009
Case #10
Thales wrote: "A closer analogy would be if I decided to take exception to this: "Ok firstly, thank you Thales for accepting this debate!" What if I decide that it's inappropriate for you to thank me for--let's face it--disagreeing with you? Let's say I've always thought that doing that was rude, disrespectful, and generally a bad thing. It just bugs the hell out of me"

What basis or reasoning do you have for telling me it was rude or disrespectful? To thank someone?

My basis and reasoning for being disrespected by being called "Sweetie" and Hun" is because they are words with meaning. To me, I don't toss words around for the fun of it. I don't tell people I love them if I really don't love them.

Aren't we taught as children the correct way to approach and address other people?? Do you think telling a child/young adult that addressing people you just meet as hun and sweetie is a polite and correct thing to do?

Why tell them to say please and thank you or to call someone "Mr. Smith" or "Richard" instead of going in for the kill and addressing him as "Dick." It's common manners.

Your analogy of not liking being called by your first name after the coffee shop receives a credit card from you is ONLY a pet peeve. What is so disrespectful about a person calling you by your first name?

If someone who doesn't know me, calls me "Hunnie, Sweetie, Sport, Chief, etc" are NOT good manners, and therefore, are disrespectful.

If I am meeting a few male friends of my wife's for the first time, and one of the guys shakes my hand and says, "Hey, what's up Chief?" THAT is an act of disrespect. Upon meeting a person, if you are unaware of their humor level, their intelligence, their overall presentation of themselves, a person should not use CHOICE words in order to address that person.

Just the same as if I were to meet someone for the first time and start rambling off jokes that CAN be taken OFFENSIVELY. I am the person, (the perpetrator) that should be watching myself, not the other way around.

I wouldn't walk into a residence and start rambling off religious jokes, or racist jokes, or just any type of joke....because even thought they are called JOKES, people can become offended by them.

Comfort levels must be addressed and earned before a person starts..."Shooting their mouth off!" and I mean that in the nicest way possible!

 
tricitymerchants11
May 28, 2009
Case #11
In fact, if someone who I just met calls me "sweetie" and then follows up with a "You mind if I call you that?" it would be totally fine and respectful.

Addressing and acknowledging a controversial choice of words would be more than on my good graces and definitely not disrespectful.

Just the same as if I got into the habit of calling people I knew "Dumbass" as a joke. In it's real definition it's a derogatory word usually intended to belittle a person. But since I use it as a means of friendly communication, I could easily use it often.

If someone got into the habit of calling their spouse and close friends "Sweetie" which is intended as a comfort word, it could be used in a different context and offend people.

Dumbass, Bitch, Jerk, Loser...all derogatory words meaning something BAD

Sweetie, Hun, Pumpkin, Cupcake...all comforting words of endearment used to mean something generally GOOD

All these words (and then some) are words to usually use on people you've known and met more than once.





 
10
It is not necessarily disrespectful.


thales
May 27, 2009
Case #1
When people call me "sweetie," I assume it is for one of two reasons. Either:

1) They think I'm sweet. Which, you know...they have a point. Or,

2) It's a verbal habit. I do it myself (although my endearments tend to be a little more unusual); many people find it natural to call others something.

"Sir" and "Miss/Ma'am" can be too formal in some regions and settings (not to mention the potential to seriously piss women off by choosing the wrong form of address). Some people are ambiguously gendered. And the thing where they look at your credit card and call you by the name on it really upsets some people, myself included.

So people throw a random pleasant endearment into the conversation instead; so what? If their tone isn't overtly condescending, I think that it's a stretch to assume that some kind of disrespect is implied.

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #2
When determining offense, there are two main criteria: substance and intent.

In this case, it's hard to argue that the substance of the words is, in and of itself, disrespectful. It's not disrespectful in the slightest to compliment a stranger, and "sweetie," "honey," etc. are de facto compliments of someone's personality. Now, if the barista slammed down your coffee with a "Here ya go, grouchy!" you might have cause for complaint, but no one I know would interpret "hon" to mean "you slug-faced jerk," so on the surface of it, endearments pass the politeness test.

And as for intent...let's say I was brought up to think that it's rude not to shake hands with everyone I meet. And you were raised to believe that it's a horrible insult for men and women to shake hands. When you and I meet, one of us will be offended...but neither would necessarily have been disrespected. In a perfect world, sooner or later the subject would come up, we'd both realize that the other was actually being polite as they understand politeness, and we'd part friends. Do you really think that people are trying to belittle or disrespect you, or to usurp some of the closeness you have with your wife? Because I'd really want more evidence than "That %#$%@! called me 'sweetie' in a pleasant tone while completing my order!" before making that kind of assumption. You may not like it, but how would a stranger possibly know that? To them it may well be How You Speak to Someone Politely.

Since these endearments are neither disrespectful on their face or (necessarily) in intent, I don't believe that it's reasonable to call them "disrespectful."

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #3
You list several examples of things you know to be offensive to people from other regions/cultures, and then surmise that we should never do...well, anything, in case it might offend people.

What if not doing the thing offends people?

The two-kiss greeting is commonplace where I live. Should I not do it in case I meet "the wrong person" who will get mad? What about all of the other people who are hurt in the meantime by what they perceive as my coldness? What if I miss their body language, or if they simply have more self-control than to give away their feelings on the matter?

You're going to offend someone either way, sooner or later. I promise you that no matter what you do, it will happen. So what can you do other than be as polite as you can, according to your own best definition of the word, and hope that the people you meet will give you the benefit of the doubt?

Now, you have a specific definition of what that entails, and that's fine. But what you don't seem to account for is that there are still people who will disagree, and even people who may be offended. For one thing, you most certainly can go wrong with a handshake. For another, what if the barista who calls you "sweetie" honestly believes that it's polite...and wonders why you're so unfriendly since you don't call her anything in return? You may legitimately be hurting her feelings...does that make you disrespectful? Not to mention that sooner or later you're going to walk into the home of an Asian person who will silently be wondering if you're just taking your shoes off because they're Asian, even if they don't observe that tradition.

It doesn't mean you're disrespectful; it means that you're doing your best in a complicated world. And so are the people who call you "hon."

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #4
Tricity wrote: "In a country with many different types of people and cultures, it's difficult to keep up with who
may get offended and disrespected, I understand.
But like I said earlier, the more rational idea is
to just refrain from such words unless you know a
person."

But that's just the thing: that's what you think might offend people. And so to you, refraining from doing it is "rational." But other people, who were raised in different families, cultures, languages, whatever--it might never occur to them that those words might bother anyone. Maybe they'd be so busy refraining from sneezing in your presence, or making sure their eye contact lasts a full seven seconds, because that's what they think might offend people, that it never crosses their mind that you might not like being called "Sweetie."

Or "Pumpkin." Which I kinda want to start using now, but I won't, 'cause I know it bothers you. I know that because you said so. Before that--like, if we met once as strangers and I never saw your debates--before that I wouldn't have had the slightest way of knowing.

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #5
There's a substantial difference between acknowledging relativism and saying "anything goes."

If you intentionally do something that you think is disrespectful to someone, than it is. If you knowingly do something that the other person thinks is disrespectful, then it is.

But if you think it's respectful and you have no reason to think that the other person will disagree, then how on earth can it be disrespectful??

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #6
Reasonable people can disagree on what is and is not appropriate. In the U.S., research has shown that restaurant patrons will tip more if their server introduces himself by name, engages in friendly banter, kneels or sits so that he is eye-level with the customers, and even touches them physically. So, many restaurant chains mandate that their servers do those things.

Personally, I hate it. HATE it.

However, it is quite clear that there are people who prefer this type of service, because professionals keep doing it. Therefore, unless I make my own preferences known, I can call it "annoying," "stupid," "absurd," and "pathetic," but I'd be out of line to call it "disrespectful." I may not like it, but clearly other people do.

The server has no way of knowing which category I'm in, so he's aiming to please the majority and hoping the rest of us will speak up rather than skip his tip. That's not his fault; it's all those annoying "Strangers should be best friends" customers who are to blame.

In other words: just because you don't like it...and even if no one on convinceme likes it...that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of people out there who get a happy little glow when the waitress plunks down their pie with an "Enjoy, sweetheart." Therefore, it's not disrespect when she tries it with you; it's good business. Or plain habit. Or both.

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #7
As for where you draw the line: that's not entirely relevant to my argument.

I'm not saying that it's appropriate when the creepy guy from the pizza place calls me "Bella" when I run into him in the supermarket. I'm saying that it's not automatically disrespectful to use endearments with strangers.

Exceptions break my way, not yours.

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #8
If we were aiming to prevent men from ever feeling misled into thinking a woman was interested, we'd have to kill every woman on Earth.

And some of the prettier men.

 
thales
May 27, 2009
Case #9
Tricity wrote: "If I leaned over to the woman I work with right now (not knowing how she'd react to it) and said,
"Damn girl, you lookin' good today SHAWTY" even if
I meant it in a half-serious, half-playful manner...

...it is still disrespectful to her! "

Of course it is...because you think it is!! That falls into one of my two "don't do it" categories, remember? But if you honestly think that that's a respectful and appropriate thing to say, then:

1) Your parents need a good talking-to, and

2) There's no point in the woman shouting "disrespect," since you genuinely had no idea you were giving any. Instead, a "Don't speak to me that way. My name is ____, and I don't appreciate comments about my appearance" would be much more practical. if you do it again, you've been warned, and that falls into the second of my "don't do it" categories. One warning; what's the harm?

Of course there's usually no referee on hand to separate intentional offenses from innocent mistakes. But isn't that all the more reason to give your fellow man the benefit of the doubt?

 
thales
May 28, 2009
Case #10
Re: Argument 8:

Saying that it's up to the receiver to determine if offense has been given is, quite simply, a recipe for disaster.

Certainly in the scenarios you've mentioned, it is mostly likely that the speaker would know that they were being rude. Negative implications about others' appearance or job are impolite, whether the receiver chooses to take offense or not.

But there's nothing inherently impolite about calling a stranger "sweetie."

A closer analogy would be if I decided to take exception to this: "Ok firstly, thank you Thales for accepting this
debate!"

What if I decide that it's inappropriate for you to thank me for--let's face it--disagreeing with you? Let's say I've always thought that doing that was rude, disrespectful, and generally a bad thing. It just bugs the hell out of me.

So I'm offended, all right? There's nothing you can do about that; my feelings are my feelings. That part's done.

But what you're arguing here is that, in that scenario, you were being disrespectful by thanking me for taking the debate.

You didn't think that it was disrespectful. Maybe you've never met anyone who did before. Nothing in our interaction so far has led you to expect that that would bother me.

But because I'm the "receiver," that means that you were automatically disrespectful of me? What a horrific, land-mine-laced world we would all be living in if your contention were true.

 
thales
May 28, 2009
Case #11
Tricity wrote: "The world isn't a free-for-all. "

There's a lot of ground between "free-for-all" and "everyone must define every word in the exact same way and derive the same emotional response from it."

Come to think of it, even if there weren't and I had to choose one of the two? Free-for-all all the way. I'd much rather the creepy pizza guy get to call me "Bella" all he wants than to have anyone else tell me what I mean when I call you "doll."

 


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