When I met my husband, I was barely nineteen, straight out of California and confident that I was going to be a feminist, if I wasn't already. No one, NO ONE could tell ME what to do.
And then I met him. And he called me "baby." It was a term of endearment, don't get me wrong, but it rubbed me all kinds of the wrong way. "Baby?!?!?! No one calls me Baby. Don't you DARE."
And he tried. He really did, but he was from the south, and well, that's just what they do.
Eventually, I accepted it as a term of endearment, not that he was belittling me or putting me in my place as a woman. He called me that because he loved me and cared about me, and that's just what you do.
And now, fifteen years later, I use it all the time. I call him that. I call the children that. I call the children I see at school that. I call the dog that. It's likely my most used term of endearment. And I like it. I use it because I love these people and I want them to know that I'll take care of them. Or maybe it's because I'm a southerner now.