December 29, 2022- The couple walked two steps in front of me, as I was heading home, past the stately Hassayampa Inn, after meeting Akuura for an afternoon of conversation over latte and tea, at the newly-opened Century Lounge. The woman expressed to her mate, that she didn’t think she could walk much further, on the somewhat slippery sidewalk, to which he replied “You can do it, Baby. Come on, Baby!”
I don’t recall Penny and I having addressed each other in infantile terms, though terms of endearment came out of our mouths on a daily basis. She was straightforward about infantilization, so much so that our son, once he reached the age of three, would say: “I’m NOT a baby!”. Children emulate their mothers, or their primary caretakers of either sex, early on.
So, it seems that the term, “Baby”, applied equally by men and women alike, towards their mates, could be neutral. Yet, given the frequency that women, in the Industrial Age, or earlier, starting with the Manorial System, were treated in a subservient manner, the connotation of the word “Baby”, or even “Babe” (used to describe an attractive female, of any age) has been implied infancy. Of course, women who use that term towards their men are hardly emasculating them. It’s just that to me, and to many others, the best thing anyone can do in a relationship is to encourage a sense of equality, of supporting their mate’s following of her/his life plan and realization of dream (s).
It may well not be a matter of if, but when, I find myself in a relationship again. At that point in time, my choice of expressing endearment will reflect how I view the person who is walking beside, not behind, me. I never want to be one who diminishes another human being.