Remember the old days when things were simpler? Remember the days when gas was a dollar a gallon, a good house was 75,000 dollars, and women weren't so uppity? Back then it was okay to call a female secretary or a female co-worker "Sweetie." Those were the days when men could make women feel naive, make them feel like they were less then equals and more like objects. Those were the old days.
What has made those the 'old days' is the progress we as a people have made since then. The old ways of the sexist paternalism that dominated every sphere of public life were abandoned and condemned as a result of the immense social change of the 1960s and 70s. They were disregarded and disreputed because of the lack of respect they bestowed upon our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters.
Today our society recognizes that calling women "sweetie" or "honey" or "baby" degrades them. Besides putting their sex at the forefront, such names take way from female professionalism and more importantly female equality.
Barack Obama recognizes this, yet he has continued to degrade women in this fashion.
On Wednesday May 14 when a female reporter asked Barack Obama a tough question, the front-runner in the Democratic nomination contest brushed it off and made an off-the-cuff remark that will without a doubt hurt him.
The Democratic Senator and most probable Presidential nominee Barack Obama toured a car manufacturing plant in Detroit on Wednesday. His visit was an attempt to appeal to blue-collar voters for the upcoming general election while addressing the failing economy, in particular the fledgling auto industry.
At the event Peggy Agar, a reporter at Detroit's WXYZ-TV, asked Obama: "Senator, how are you going to help the American autoworkers?"
Obama responded hastily with, "Hold on a second, sweetie. We'll hold a press avail." By 'avail' he meant an organized pseudo-press conferance, of which his campaign never held. The video of this exchange can be found here.
Now for those people who view his comment as not offensive, Barack Obama has fully admitted it was and to his credit has apologized for it, as followed up by WXYZ-TV and is posted on their website here. Some may argue that Obama merely apologized solely for the fact that people can be offended by it, but personally sees no harm in calling a female "sweetie." The problem with this argument is that it is common knowledge that such terms are in fact demeaning, not just in the logical implications but in the practical applications. Indeed no one would suggest it would be permissable to call a female employer or a co-worker "sweetie."
Since he has apologized some would then suggest that he made a mistake, he owned up to it, and people should move on, however this was not an isolated incident. For as reported by ABC News Barack Obama has a history of making such derogatory comments:
It apparently is a habit. In an earlier campaign stop, Obama said to a woman, "Sweetie, if I start with a picture I will never get out of here."Barack Obama in repeatedily leveling the term "sweetie" upon women, even in at least knowing some women take offense to it, illustrates he has continually espoused an outdated paternalistic bias and is quite frankly wrong in doing so.
And then: "Sweetie if I start doing autographs I just won't be … I am really late."