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Girls and Ladies? How do you react to being called Ma'am?

 
 
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 01:25 pm
Quote:
Senator BARBARA BOXER (Democrat, California): Well, why has it been delayed?

Brigadier General MICHAEL WALSH (U.S. Army): Ma'am, at the LACPR...

Sen. BOXER: You know, do me a favor. Could you say senator instead of ma'am?

Brig. Gen. WALSH: Yes.

Sen. BOXER: It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title. So I'd appreciate it. Yes, thank you.

Brig. Gen. WALSH: Yes, Senator.




Quote:
Please Don't Call Me 'Ma'am'
September 8, 2010
Even when it's meant to be polite, or deferential, for many women 'ma'am' is as welcome as a poke in the eye. The New York Times' Natalie Angier describes the politics of polite, and how women can be addressed politely without inferring their age or marital status.


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129727777

Being a veteran from the military, female officers are addressed as ma'am while male officers are addressed with sir. While sergeants and noncommissioned officers (male and females) are addressed by their rank: corporal, sergeant, etc....
~
I remember working mall security at the Natick Mall in the mid90's when I approached a lady who illegally parked in a handicapped. With the most diplomatic tone, I informed her of her need to move her car to a nonhandicapped parking space.

AS by habit, when talking to strangers out of politeness while working, I addressed all males by sir (including teenage boys) and all females by ma'am (including teenage girls).

So as I was trying to convey my parking message I was addressing the lady as ma'am you have to... etc.... She interrupt me and say stop calling me ma'am then I'd use miss then took offense to this then I called her ms. then she took offense to that then I returned to ma'am for the rest of the so called conversation. I think I remember it lasted 15 minutes and she finally got back in the car and drove to another parking space.

So? Ladies and girls? Do you take offense or pride in being referred to as ma'am?

What are the proper qualifications for such referral? For such terms as dear? Honey? Lady? Etc...?
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 01:36 pm
@tsarstepan,
Well I see her point there, which I think is a little different from most uses. If "senator" is the more usual address -- if the speaker would address a male senator as "senator" -- then the "ma'am" would grate.

I don't know that I've ever been called ma'am, I don't think I'd have anything in particular against it but I bet context matters. That goes for all of the rest of the terms too I think.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 02:07 pm
@tsarstepan,
When new owners moved into a house across the street, I went over to welcome them and to offer one of my dollies to help them move their boxes. When the man finished the task he thanked me and called me ma'am. I asked him if he had been in the military. He said, "no, my father is a diplomat and my mother taught me to be polite."

BBB

0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 02:11 pm
@sozobe,
I would assume that being in the military, the general would address the male senators as sir not as senator.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 02:33 pm
@tsarstepan,
Years ago, when I entered a room where a meeting was underway, a male friend would stand up, would say Madam and pull out my chair for me to sit on. That's worse than ma'am. I guess he thought he was honoring me.

BBB
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 02:39 pm
@tsarstepan,
I doubt it. "Sir" and "Ma'am" in the military implies superior rank as compared to using "sir" and "ma'am" in the story above as a form of respect in talking to a stranger. My guess is that a general would not automatically defer to a male senator. I don't think his deference to Senator Boxer was in any way disrespectful, but if she had a hard spot with it, then she was right to say something and the general was right to respect her wishes.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  4  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 04:02 pm
Not sure when people shifted from "miss" to "ma'am." But I am called "ma'am" by people who don't know me. I view it at as a sign of politeness. I have no problem with it at all.

Hispanic workers at hospitals I've been in sometimes call me "mommy." This was a shock the first time I heard it. Now I like it.
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 08:23 pm
Generally, I smile and nod.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 10:10 pm
@Eva,
I don't mind ma'am in ordinary life, though I prefer lack of use of this stuff.

I used to mind "Good morning, ladies" for reasons explained at length elsewhere. Odd thing to say to people who will ok your work, or not, causing you do it over again or modify it, to get paid. But even then I knew it was meant well.
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 10:32 pm
I cringe every time it's tossed my way.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2010 11:31 pm
@eoe,
Too bad. When and where I grew up, all adults that weren't sir wer ma'am.
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 01:49 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:

... a male friend would stand up, would say Madam and pull out my chair for me to sit on. That's worse than ma'am.

BBB

Why? If you were over 70 and someone called you "young lady", that would be an insult. But, offering you a seat during a meeting seems to me to be plain , good manners on the part of the gentleman.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 02:39 am
@Roberta,
In Hawaii I am frequently refered to as Aunty by strangers, and it is a title of respect. Same as Mommy. It infers trust.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 04:27 am
@tsarstepan,
I don't believe I've ever been addressed as "Ma'am".
But then, it's an American form of address, not used in these parts.
Their must surely be some Australian equivalent, but right this minute whatever it is escapes me ...
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 07:40 am
@roger,
Same here, Roger. But in my mind, it's mostly reserved for women of a 'certain age' and I'm reminded every time someone calls me 'ma'am' instead of 'miss' that I have undoubtedly reached that age. They don't stutter. Wink
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 09:07 am
@eoe,
I'm still getting used to being called "sir." It became prevailent about five years ago or so.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 09:29 am
@InfraBlue,
It kind of unnerves me when I'm addressed as sir but I think that's a low self esteem thing on my part. The why did he/she just call me sir?! thing I hold against myself.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 10:11 am
@tsarstepan,
Well now, if it's a young feminine type and you are close enough in age to consider dating, maybe being sirred is not the most encouraging thing you might hear. Anyway, you're up north somewhere. If you grew up in the south, your perspective might be different.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 10:29 am
@roger,
I'd be delighted if there was some obvious chemistry and/or potential dating situation behind being called sir. But the title ma'am and sir (and yes many other social titles) are of a reverential nature politely given to strangers that kind of implies that the speaker and the receiver of said title are not on an equal social platform (age differences, social or class differences, etc... which tend to throw off a possible dating and/or future relationship scenario to the wayside).
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2010 10:40 am
I got called "Miss" the other day, and couldn't help but laugh at the 22 year old doing it.

I said, "I'm 51 years old, definately not a 'miss'".

He seemed confused, and asked "Well, you am I supposed to call you?"

I said "M'am"

Being a Texan, not by birth, but by choice, it's my due to be called M'am.

I AM of a certain age, and proud of it.

Mexican woman older than me sometimes call me "mija", but that's more of a friendly thing, rather than a respect one. The only one's that do that know me well.
They usually call young women and teens that.

I had an applicant call me "mommi" on the phone the other day....that was not good for him.
 

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