I’m not a Kelowna babe, I’m not an BC babe and I’m not a business babe, boss babe or babe of Instagram. I’d rather not be thought of as any kind of babe at all. In fact, here’s where my mind goes when I hear the word babe:
4. An actual baby, 3. Babe Ruth, 2. Babe the pig and 1. A sexually objectified woman.
I don’t identify with being a feminist but I do hold a very strong conviction for equal rights and treatment among sexes and I like to promote behavior that drives this idea home. There are so many beautiful, creative and empowering words you could call me, babe shouldn’t be one of them:
- It’s not professional.
The definition of babe is literally a baby or a sexually attractive female, neither of which should have any place in a professional setting. Women have been fighting to end sexual harassment and be valued for accomplishments over physical attraction for decades. I have had to deal with many belittling and sexist experiences in my career and I work really hard to compete with my male counter parts in my industry. Being called a babe implies that my value is dependent on how attractive I am and all my hard work, training and experience are worthless in comparison. Being called names that speak to my intelligence, accomplishments or kindness have so much more meaning to me.
- It propagates sexism.
Babe is not my name. Neither is cutie, honey or sweetie. Any word that describes a woman based on someone else’s level of attraction is demeaning, derogatory and belittling. The word babe fits under the category of unsolicited catcalls that have been tumbling out of the mouths of low life construction workers for too long. I don’t need your hooting to feel pretty, I am not on this planet for your viewing pleasure and I deserve more respect than that. Calling myself a babe would be supporting the idea that my value is in the hands of someone else.
Self love and being proud of the way you look is a healthy stance to take. But to identify with attractiveness as the most prominent value is not only temporary, it hurts women’s potential to be recognized for more. Even if you worked really hard to get the physic you have, wouldn’t you rather be called strong, ambitious or successful? The word babe insinuates that someone did nothing but land in the right gene pool.
- It assumes too much familiarity.
I suppose if there was an instance I would not take offence to being called babe it would be as a term of affection from someone I love. In that case it’s personal, private and should be reserved for just them to keep the meaning special. I use the word friend to refer to the people in my life I have respect for. My boyfriend and I call each other love and my mom calls me sweetheart. Terms of endearment are meant to reaffirm intimacy and connection. I don’t think it’s ever appropriate for strangers or colleagues to comment on my looks and even more inappropriate to comment on my level of sexual attractiveness.
- It’s common and overused.
When a word is overused it loses any meaning or significance and people hardly register its presence at all. Recently, the word babe is everywhere and has lost all potency. People glaze right over it without thinking. At this point, why use it at all? If we want people to stop and think, be inspired or empowered using creative and original language is going to be the most influential. The word is stale and sits in too many mindless conversations of valley speak and surfer slang to have any impact now.
Many people have expressed the opinion that political correctness has gone too far recently and people should be free to say what they like. I would argue it’s heading that way as a reminder to be compassionate and aware of other people’s feelings. People latch on to trends and memes at an alarming rate these days but there’s something to be said about stopping to evaluate how we’re communicating with each other and what underlying meaning our words might have to others. How much further could we get if we all took the time to communicate mindfully with each other?