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.