Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ma'am sucks

I hate being called "ma'am." My mother hates being called "ma'am." My sister hates being called "ma'am." I've read other bloggers talk about how they hate being called "ma'am."

I specifically changed my dental hygienist because he insisted on calling me that. I asked him to stop, and he kept doing it. He was brought up that way. I understand it's supposed to be polite, but it offends me. Okay, maybe offends is too strong a word, but it does make me tense at the very least.

On the other hand, I call women of all ages "Miss" all the time, and none have seemed to mind.

However, I understand that this may be a difficult habit to break, and some may not approve of calling women "Miss." (I won't get into the "Ms." thing.)

So here's my proposal: how about actually saying the entire word, the way it was meant to be said. I don't mind being called "Madam." It sounds grand. Especially if pronounced "ma-DAHM" rather than "MA-dim." (Yes, it's April's own form of phonetic spelling. ) But really, either way is fine.

So, mothers (and fathers) of sons, if you're teaching your sons to be polite, go all the way! Don't teach them the abbreviated version. Go for that second syllable! My mother thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.

19 comments:

liz said...
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CableGirl said...

That's too funny. I don't like being called ma'am either, but still the habit is ingrained in me.

For example, I was hard at work at my garage sale and a woman called out to me to ask about the price of something. "Yes, ma'am?" was my instant reply. Couldn't have stopped myself if I wanted to.

I'm not so sure about Madam. I might feel like a brothel owner that way. ;)

Suzie said...

I am so with you. I just wanna back hand those men who say ma am to me. Makes me sick. I love miss though it makes me feel so young and cute

jenn said...

I'm back and forth on this one. I don't like being called ma'am, because it makes me feel old, but I teach Shiloh to say "Yes Ma'am" sometimes too. Double standard I guess. Or maybe I'm just confused.

But I would rather be called Miss anyday.

Florinda said...

Like Liz who commented earlier, I have Southern roots, and I had to get used to "ma'am" too. Can't stand it. Makes me feel OLD. When I was still in my twenties, a younger co-worker called me "ma'am" all the time, because it was "the way (she) was raised." I get that, but I still don't like it.

On the other hand, I've always liked the Southern tradition of addressing adult women as "Miss (Firstname)," especially for kids. It's not as casual as just a first name, less formal than title + last name, and avoids having a bunch of "honorary aunts" (I think that should be saved for the very closest friends).

It's only since I moved out here that I've been called "Miss" occasionally. After all those years of feeling old as "Ma'am," now that I'm in my mid-40's, "Miss" makes me feel young :-).

Kori said...

I agree, Ma-DAHM April. But even if someone pronounced it wrong and I did sound like a brothel owen, I think it would still be okay-it would lend me a certain air of mystery, no?

Tara R. said...

I had the same reaction to 'ma'am' for the longest time. That all changed when I started teaching martial arts and heard it ad nauseam, and actually grew to enjoy it. Now, I use it with other women all the time. I promise to restrain myself if we ever meet IRL.

Megkathleen said...

I hate it too! It makes me feel so hold. I'd rather be called "Hey you" than Ma'am.

Huckdoll said...

Death to ma'am! I don't think I've ever called a woman ma'am in my life. Sometimes I will joke, "Yes, ma'am!" and salute, but never in seriousness.

Makes me cringe!

Loth said...

Come to Scotland. You'll be called "hen". Not sure if that's better!

Trannyhead said...

Oooh - I think "hen" is way worse. Funnier, but way worse.

I also grew up in a region where "ma'am" is used for every female above the age of 20. And I've been called "ma'am" and then carded at the same time ...

Dingo said...

My best friends and I are G.R.I.T.S (girls raised in the south) and we often call each other by Miss Ourfirstname all the time. We do it as a joke but it's rooted in tradition. I've gotten out of the M'am habit when not in the South but as soon as I step off the plane, it spews from my lips as if it was just waiting to be released.

I hate Miss. Hate it. It sounds condescending.

FreedomFirst said...

Interesting. We were in serious trouble growing up if we failed to address adults as "Ma'am" and "Sir." Including our parents. And it bothers me tremendously to be called "Miss," because I look so much younger than I am and I feel like "Miss" implies I am somehow inferior to the speaker.

I actually snapped at a bank teller once when he called me "Miss" AGAIN after I had told him it was "Mrs." Of course, I didn't like him anyway even without that. He stole $100 from me that I couldn't prove. So I don't feel bad for being snippy.

Julie said...

I agree, April. I totally hate being called "ma'am" and much prefer "miss". The other day I was at Hooters (because my friend MADE me) and our "Hooter girl" called one of us ma'am. Our male friend who was with us caught her and said, "Ooooh, don't say ma'am!" haha. She replied that she was a military girl and that's why she says it. Not sure if she's the daughter of someone in the military or if she herself was in the military... I didn't care enough to ask. But it led me to think that the military told her it's polite to say ma'am.

Natalie said...

Yes, please call me ma'am over hen. Oooch.

I don't particularly like being called ma'am, but I think I like Madame less. I do like miss, like others have suggested. :)

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

I hate being ma'amed too. Both at the checkout counter and the radiology clinic.

won said...

Only thing worse than ma'am (to me) is being called "honey" by waitresses, clerks or others who have never met me. It feels so condescending.

Laura said...

Living in the south has forced me to have to deal with being called "ma'am." I hate it, it makes me feel old, but maybe arriving in the south was in sync with my becoming old. I don't have much use for "miss" either.

I love being called "honey." It makes me feel sweet and appreciated, even though the only people who call me honey don't know me from someone else ordering pancakes for breakfast.

FreedomFirst said...

Oh, I totally agree with Won on this one. "Honey" drives me nuts. I will tell someone flat out not to call me "honey," depending on the circumstances. Same thing with "Sweetie." I get that one a lot. If it's an older woman, or even in rare cases an old man (but only if I already know him), I'll grit my teeth and bear it. But when guys call me "honey" who don't even know me, it really sets me off. I think that is completely inappropriate.