I have a major problem being called babe and other similar terms by anyone I’m not in a romantic relationship with.
Why does this term get me all bothered? Maybe it’s because when someone says, “hey babe” I immediately have a flash back to the 60’s (technically 1959) aka Grease. I imagine a greased up bloke in a leather jacket, cigarette stick hanging out of the corner on his mouth, leaning on a gleaming black convertible. Then I picture myself as Sandy (obviously a black one) in a poodle skirt, ponytail with a pink bow being all giggly, and surrounded by even more giggly friends, my heart trilling to the fact that this hot specimen of mankind took the time to notice me and call me, babe. Heavy stuff.
There’s also the fact that I believe Destiny’s Child’s “Say my name” did irreversible damage to my psyche. When I get called Babe or some other variant of that I unconsciously think, can’t you remember my name? Or are you trying to make sure you don’t trip up and call me someone else’s name? Hmmmm…. Not pretty thoughts,I know.
Now beyond my weird brains associations, there’s also the issue of basic meaning of the word babe. Here are a few definitions from urban dictionary, which of course is the most credible source. (1) Endearing term ( 2) Used to describe a good-looking girl (3) a girl or guy who is easy on the eyes, talented, and good-looking, overall just very sexy, referred to as “babe” (4) The word is for either gender, or when you use it in a sentence, it gives encouragement to the person you are calling that, it tells them that you consider them cute and with a sort of ownership** (5) A term a girlfriend uses towards her boyfriend and vice versa.
I believe definition #4 is at the root of my problem, there is an air of ownership and chauvinism surrounding the word. I’ve always had this pet peeve but moving back to Nigeria hasn’t helped. Every male I’ve met in Nigeria regardless of our level association considers it appropriate to call me babe. Now, I got used to the Southern habit of older men and women calling everyone pumpkin, sugar, honey and sweetie, but those always felt innocent to me, babe, not so much.
I just had to say something after one too many conversations and chats that at some point included the word “Babe”. If you think I’m over reacting, try a Google image search for “babe” and see if anything PG shows up.