I read today where Obama has caught some flack for his use of the word "sweetie" when speaking with a female reporter. According to the story, it's much ado about nothing. She wasn't offended, and he was proactive in apologizing to her just in case. However, it's made news anyway and folks are making lots of noise over whether or not Barack Obama is a sexist pig.
Well, here's my noise: I call my wife "sweetie" much more often than I refer to her by her name. I'm not sure, but I think she calls me the same. I don't even notice anymore. My two youngest kids call each other "sweetie" pretty often and my heart melts a bit whenever I hear that. There's nothing condescending or sexist about the way we use the word; it's just a habit that we have.
Of course, the difference is that we are all intimate here and no one's going to be offended. When I'm at work, I don't use it because one just never knows how it's going to be received. We must always be mindful of others and how they might interpret our words and actions. A mindful phrase we use at work is, "Perception is reality." Literally speaking, I don't agree with that, but I get its meaning and it's a smart way to go about dealing with others.
Anyway, my point is that I use the word in kindness so much around the house that I could easily see myself forgetting my rules and using it at work simply out of habit. It could happen. I once almost ended a phone call with a boss of mine by telling her that I love her. It's how I always end phone calls with my wife and I remember the time it tried to slip out simply by habit with my boss. (Yikes!)
And that's all it was with Obama. It was both nice and wise of him to apologize to her before anyone had made any kind of deal out of it. He simply realized that his habit got the best of him and he did the courteous thing. It turns out that the reporter had hardly noticed the "sweetie" and was only concerned about getting her question for her story answered. That's how it goes though. Never mind the serious questions asked of the political candidate; we can just obsess over the use of a word as innocuous as "sweetie."