Loving couples and letter writers the world over have been horrified to discover that for years they have been bandying about a word which oppresses and demeans women. "Dear", once casually used by chauvinists and misogynists of all stripes to put down women, is now consigned to the same dust-bin of history as the infamous N word.
Some have argued that the word is not so much offensive as it anachronistic. "I am upset that our prime minister used the word" said one female Labour minister, "but only because it's kind of quaint and old-fashioned. If he had used bitch or ho or trick or something of that nature, not only would he have seemed more in touch with modern times, but we really would have had something to get at him about.
David Cameron who began the controversy by using the term in parliament is, perhaps surprisingly, delighted by the uproar. "The opposition clearly hasn't got any ammuniation against me if they're resorting to calling "dear" an offensive word" remarks Cameron. He is in discussions about the possibility of using the term "shawty" in the future.