When I was living in Toronto in 2017, I got called “hon” a lot by waitresses and just yesterday morning it was “love” by an older woman smoking a cigarette as I walked by. We had shared a brief chat about the mild autumn weather. I am amused by this and chalk it up to harmless endearment between women.
Between men there isn’t much in the way of pet names as it seems to historically have been about competition and perhaps grudging respect. The only term I think of is the younger generation’s use of “bro” to address someone of the same age and ilk while in my father’s time and before it was the dreaded “sir” which, to someone with gender dysphoria, grates against the sensibilities like nails on a chalk board.
Recently a young woman at a Sephora addressed me as “hey girl” which at first seemed jarring coming from someone my daughter’s age. I did not take offense as she was so bubbly and friendly.
From a Vogue article where women writers discuss the topic:
“But while most are fine with older women calling them sweetie or love, things can take on a completely different tone when coming from the opposite gender. “It can feel inappropriate when an older man calls you hun,” explains one writer, “but in the end, they’re from a different generation, so they don’t see it as something disrespectful. They’re totally oblivious.
According to one of our British writers, in London, strangers constantly use the word love with one another. Yet she was jarred when she moved to the United States and found herself not reacting well to a common American colloquialism. “I didn’t understand why people would say hey girl. Why are people calling me a girl? I’m a woman. Nobody is saying hey boy.” Adjusting to one’s surroundings is perhaps the best way to go, as you don’t want to come off as either too cold or too friendly in a new city.”