I just lent a key for a piece of equipment to a male contractor at my job, and as he returned to my office and handed it back to me, he said:
"Here you go, baby."
My inner monologue went something like this: "Did he really just call me 'baby'? Seriously? Should I be flattered or something? No! I'm not flattered. I'm not your baby!"
What did I do, though? How did I -- a card-carrying feminist -- put him in his place?
I smiled slightly less than I usually would as I thanked him and avoided making eye contact.
Boy, did I show him, or what?
He went on his way with his world completley unchanged, secure in his privilege to never give our seemingly innocuous interaction a second thought, and I'm left in my office, annoyed with myself for not having the balls/ovaries/whatever to call him out on his sexism.
On one hand, this is a guy I don't know and will probably never see again, so why waste the energy it takes for me to respond negatively (and surely cause him to regard me as a total bitch in the process), but on the other hand, why should he feel entitled to call me "baby"? That shit makes me totally uncomfortable, and while there may be plenty of women out there who either don't mind it or find it flattering, I can say with confidence that it's certainly not true for all of us.
It's just frustrating that I can be spoken to so dismissively and "endrearingly" called names like "baby" and "sweetie" by men who don't even know me simply by virtue of my being both young and female. And it's more frustrating that when it happens, there are so many reasons to not even bother to speak up about it.