“Alright love, can I talk to you about …”. He has spotted me at 10 metres, has broken away from a huddle with his colleagues, and is striding determinedly across the paving towards me.
“Don’t call me ‘Love’, thanks”, I say, without meanness, but with eye-contact. I am at least twice his age, and I find this term rude and disrespectful, and ludicrous from someone so young. It is often defended as ‘just being friendly’, but I have been in many situations where women are addressed as ‘Love’ whilst men receive a “Sir”, so it isn’t ‘just friendly’, it is patronising. An energy company selling inside the local supermarket recently was a typical example. Two salesmen were in the aisles with clipboards trying to get customers to swap to their energy plans. “Excuse me, Sir, can I ask you about your energy provider …” to the men, and “Now then, Love, which energy company are you with …” to the women. These people are strangers, and yet they think they can address me in this condescending, familiar and disrespectful way. To me it isn’t friendly, it underlines a general attitude of disrespect towards women, along with ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’.
I don’t like the term at all, and it is ubiquitous in Yorkshire where I live, but find it’s use particularly tedious and contemptible when someone wants something from me. If you are asking me for money or business, you should be addressing me courteously.
So the young man, who has approached me to sign up for charity payments has offended and irritated me, and I have no intention of giving my banking details to a complete stranger, especially a rude one. “Don’t call me ‘Love’, thanks”, I say, and pass by. To my back, and as alternative forms of address, I hear him spit contemptuously “Miss”, then “Woman”. Before I know what has happened, I have spun on my heel and am walking back towards him. He looks slightly alarmed. “Have some fucking respect“, I say, maybe pointing at him, and being quite close. He looks a little stunned. I turn away and carry on to the Post Office to post my parcel, glad that I have made a stand, and hopeful that he will think twice before using this term next time.