Men have always used terms of endearments with women - doll, baby, babe, sugar, hon, sweetheart, etc. I know of some women that find these terms degrading or offensive. I am not one of those women.
Growing up, as a young girl in my early teens in Virginia, I can remember finding any and every reason to be near, around and with the boys of our neighborhood. My girlfriends and I would search them out - in their tree-fort in the woods, in someones back yard, in someones basement. It might have taken us hours, but we'd almost always find them - 3 girls searching for that group of 4 wandering boys. Often, they'd include us in their football game or a game of flashlight tag or kick-the-can. Sometimes there were games of Spin-the-Bottle or Truth-or-Dare. While I could hold my own in baseball or football - truthfully, my real goal was always the kissing games.
I was one of those girls that liked boys. I really liked them - all day, every day, more than school or television or food or anything. And ... boys liked me. And ... it was not because I was the "foxiest" girl in the neighborhood or the easiest (by far - haha!) - it was because, I think, they were acutely aware that I admired and loved their gender. And, while my admiration was genuine, when I, somewhere along the way, realized that feeding their egos gained me a hell of a lot of points with boys, I realized that this was a huge part of how to play the game between girls and boys. Make them feel special because they are special - it wasn't/isn't so hard at all.
From an early age I think I learned (like many girls/women) that boys/men like/love women that like/love them - and also appreciate a girl/woman that is confident and secure in her own gender. Part of what I so admire about men is their obsessive admiration and love of women. If you get that, and appreciate it for how genuine, necessary and appealing a trait it is (and sexy) - then the relationship(s) you create/maintain with men are particular and strong. I truly believe this. Men want and need to feel masculine and manly and strong and important and handsome and smart and sexy ... it is not an unreasonable desire, as they ARE all of these things. And ... it is the duty, in my opinion of women, to help make men feel all of these things - as, what would and should make them feel all these things more than women? In return, men make women feel feminine and beautiful and smart and desired and needed and wanted and cherished. Hand in hand - that is how it should work - the dance between men and women.
Hence ... the terms of endearment. Doll. Baby. Sugar. Hon. Sweetheart. Men offer such names - those sweet terms, as a way to display their love, as a way to lure women, as a way to show reverence for the gender they adore and admire and require to survive and thrive. Like any term, these sweet words can be used in a derogatory way but ... it is my belief that a woman should (most often) not be offended, but flattered and touched when a man takes the time and is so inclined to call her by one of these names.
The other night I went out dancing in a black and white striped dress. It was a long dress, tight fitting, low neckline, very pretty and feminine, I thought. On my way to the bathroom, at one point, a group of men standing nearby said, "There she is - the zebra." I laughed and smiled and went on my way. I was not offended - even though I know I am not a zebra, nor do I believe I looked like a true zebra. What I did was take it as a compliment that they had noticed my dress at all and took the time to make a comment. Zebras are not elephants or skunks or hippos or lizards. Zebras are beautiful and graceful and special. So ... it was sort of a term of endearment. This is the same reason I do not take offense to the terms sugar or hon or sweetheart. I am just pleased to be called anything sweet - because what it says is that person believes I am that sweet name or hopes that by using that sweet name I will find them sweet.
There is not a thing wrong with ... sweet.
Or zebras - for that matter - haha!