Don’t Call Me Ma’am


(Post Featured on Freshly Pressed!)

There is a single word in the English language that has the power to ruin my whole day.  That word is Ma’am.

I could be having a perfectly fine day – a great day even – the kind of day where my car starts on the first try, my kids get off to school without a ton of screaming and, when I check myself in the mirror I actually think, “Hey, I don’t look half bad.”

Then I stop by the local coffee place and the hipster barista dude, the one who wears the gross earring gauges, hands me my non-fat latte and says, “Here you go, Ma’am.”

Ah, come on.  Really?  Did you have to?

Of course I politely say “Thank you,” back to the little whippersnapper, but in my head I’ve added a very irritated, “Don’t call me Ma’am, d#$%khead.”

Because whenever I hear the term “Ma’am” I feel anger inside me.  No, that’s an understatement. Ma’am makes me feel homicidal.  I realize it’s not healthy.

Ma’am is a slap in the face.  It feels like one day you’re young and turning heads and everyone treats you nicely.  When they talk to you, they call you, “Miss.”

Then suddenly, almost overnight, people start to talk to you like you’re a doddering old fool.  They speak louder.  They over-explain things like they think you can’t understand simple transactions; “Use this stylus to sign your name.  You see it’s like a pen, but it’s not.”  Then they put salt in the wound:  they call you “Ma’am.”

I know it’s vain of me to care.  Obviously I’m in the age range of the Ma’am group.  I’ve had three kids.  I won’t be having any more.  I’m clearly not a young Miss, but I don’t feel like a Ma’am either.

I don’t like that our culture makes this separation with language, especially on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  One day I’m allowed to stand in the group with the other young and fertile maidens, then the next, “ No, no, no.  You come out of that group and move over here.  You belong with the old and the barren now.  And what are you doing shopping in Forever 21 anyway?  I hope that skirt in your hand is for your granddaughter and not for you . . . Ma’am.”

Men don’t have this issue.  They’re only called “Sir,” end of story.  It’s viewed as a sign of respect.  Even when they’re in their twenties, people don’t say, “Would you like a drink, young dude?”  They say, “Sir,” and it never changes.  When men reach middle-aged, the valet doesn’t suddenly say, “Here are your keys, old man.”  Not if he wants a tip anyway.

I understand that when people use “Ma’am” they intend for it to be a sign of respect, and that the term is more common in other parts of our country.  In fact, a friend from South Carolina once told me that his child got in trouble for saying, “Yes Ma’am,” to his teacher at his new Los Angeles area school.  My friend had to convince the principal that his son was not being smart-mouthed, and was just using the Southern manners they had taught him.

But where I’m from, people only use “Ma’am” for women of a certain age.  I’d feel really silly calling a twenty-year-old, “Ma’am.”

At work, we’ve eliminated the distinction between married and unmarried women by using the title Ms. on emails and letters.  I wish we could somehow eliminate the distinction between young and old women when we speak.

There needs to be another option, a term that could be used when speaking to women of all ages – the young, the old, and the in-between – regardless of marital status.

I say we ditch both “Miss” and “Ma’am” and for lack of a better idea, bring back the antiquated Victorian term, “M’Lady.”

Isn’t that a nice word, M’Lady?  Any woman could be a M’Lady without feeling insulted because it’s a mixture of Miss and Lady.  It is like you’re addressing both the young misses and the sophisticated older ladies at the same time.  M’Lady is sort of sweet and elegant sounding too, isn’t it?

I realize that using a different word might feel a little funky at first, but I’m sure over time we’ll get used to it.  Really, all we need is for one rapper to use it in a song and it would instantly become the norm; “I’ll tell you what the sitch’ is, Straight up from McShady, You hangin’ with your bitches, But I’m hangin’ with M’lady.”

I can already imagine how much better my mornings will be, “Here’s your double espresso, M’Lady.”

“Well, thank you, kind sir.  I will see you, and your repulsive earlobe, anon.”

So much better.

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Posted in aging, beauty, comedy, culture, Uncategorized, women
564 comments on “Don’t Call Me Ma’am
  1. indytony says:

    I just moved back to the Midwest and I’m still trying to get used to all the women who call me “Honey.” My own wife doesn’t even call me “Honey”. I’m just not that sweet.

    • Hah lol, I’m particularly allergic to ‘Hun’. ‘Sweetie pie’ and ‘sweet cheeks’ are just as bad too!

      • faithofpeace says:

        Hi, I am with you all the way. Calling a woman Ma’am drives me nuts.
        It is so degrading., and rude.

      • SHIRLEY CUSSINS says:

        Why would you think it’s degrading and rude? It’s polite and that’s all! Quit being so sensitive!

      • Lady, it’s just my opinion. Last I checked, everyone has a right to their own opinion. So go ahead and honey bun whoever you like, we’re not fussing you, are we?

    • Your comment cracked me up. It’s totally true. I’ve lived in the Midwest (Kansas) all my life. And everyone I come across is “honey.”

    • angry@culture says:

      Does she call you “babe?” Heh.. heh heh…. heh heh heh! Seriously, though, check your privilege, American.

    • Brian Wozniak says:

      Its a tough one. Are employees gonna end your friend. Nope. It’s a job. Are people taking the time to become friends. NO. Yeah. I think that the people who do it too much, generally have trouble making friends. I’m kinda intuitive. Think about. it.

  2. This got me thinking about regional aberrations. Since this is such a large country, there are social norms in one area that might be close to insulting in another. I spent a good part of my adult life in the South, and thought nothing of all the kids using Ma’am and Sir to all adults, young or old. And the always charming Miz Ruth or Miz Delia or Miz [first name] if they knew who you were. And I must admit to loving the y’all to include everyone who might or might not be present. I’ve also noticed that y’all has crept out of the South and has made its way at least as far West as Arizona. 🙂

  3. twistedchica says:

    Anon. You are killing me here. Seriously, you are Right. On. This Ma’am stuff has been going on for far too long in my world. Hell, I stopped being carded just a couple of years ago. I know I’m most def in the Ma’am Range but it ticks me off too. Great post!

  4. M’lady, it sounds like I’m your indentured servant. Doesn’t it, mam?

    • krisbrake says:

      Maybe that’s why I like it so much. 🙂

      • Denise Abraham says:

        I am in Australia. It has been creeping in here in recent years particularly in retail industry. I have hated in from the first time I heard it. I did not even know until i read this post that it was relevant to age. I do not have an issue with age. I have heard it on American TV programs and always saw it has being a type of disingenuous, covertly sarcastic, alienating, smug,supercilious, patronizing and condescending term. It is made all the more horrible by the difficulty in proving how horrible it is. If staff call me shithead I can complain and they might get the sack but I would prefer to be called shithead than ma,am but how does it look when I complain about being called ma’am. Our major telco, telstra, who had the near monopoly on the signal and bandwidth here arguably the most hated, dishonest and horrible company imaginable have trained it Asian call centers to call customers ma’am when they call about over charging and other types of theft. It is designed to alienate the customer so combined with other tactics will cause the customer to give up trying to get them to fix the problem and will lose the money rather than deal with their rudeness of which “ma am” is a significant element.

    • KH says:

      That’s what Ma’am means…Ma’am is the abbreviated form of Madam, which means My Lady from the French Ma Dame. So when you call someone Ma’am, you are saying you ARE their indentured servant.

      My grandmother told me to NEVER call anyone Ma’am. I asked why. She said, “Because you’re not a servant.”

  5. I was raised int he South and I raised my children here as well. My kids were raised to say Ma’am and Sir. My Uncle made us do 25 push ups for every forgotten Ma’am or Sir. you learned quick or you bulked up.One cousin ended up being able to do 200 one-handed push ups, he was in trouble all the time…lol. I do understand how it may feel as if someone considers you old but really it is just a form of respect,My kids as well as my grandchildren are all respectful and when I see the way some kids act I am very proud of the “old-fashioned” manners that have been instilled in us. I hope you can feel better knowing that it really is just the way that we were raised to respect others, treat everyone as a neighbor and to be polite even when we don’t feel like it…lol.

    • jonquil2u says:

      I totally agree. Eventually everyone is just going to be running around saying ‘HEY YOU!’ because everything else is “offensive”. Lol!

      • Well, my grandmother said “you-hoo!” to strangers, much to the mortification of her family (us). We’ll always love her though, and forgive her ol’ lady flaws.

        So much for old-fashioned manners! (However she definitely had some, as I remember some lessons from her. <3)

        Anyway, on a serious note, there are in-betweens. How about Ms? At least it's not &*$!^(!^$*!) ma'am.

      • Angel says:

        Lol 😂

    • I see both sides. I am from Florida where there’s a good mixed of Southern and non-Southern. Even as 20-year-olds, my friends started to have this discussion: was being called “ma’am” horrifying or respectful? I don’t get called ma’am much yet…and I’m not sure yet how I’ll feel when I do!

      • Jennifer says:

        I also was raised in the south, and saying “ma’am” was just a part of being respectful. However, I can relate. The difference between being called “miss” and “ma’am” definitely spoke volumes. However, it’s meant to invoke respect, so that’s how I take it 🙂

      • SHIRLEY CUSSINS says:

        An intelligent person realizes that it’s a form of respect and if you take it otherwise, then get some psychiatric counseling and get over yourself!

    • trhys365 says:

      OMG-you got me started!
      Here in California the only women that get called ma’am are “of a certain age.” (which is somewhat arbitrary depending on Northern or Southern, metropolitan or suburban).
      A man in front of me at the Burbank airport (NOT a southerner – I forgive them and small children and take it as intended respect–plus they say it sweeter!) called me ma’am and he was a good 5+ years older than me! My first thought was, “Don’t call me ma’am! I’m NOT your GRAND-MOTHER!”
      In California it is intended to let you know you haven’t had enough botox, a big enough boob job, a## lift, etc., and that you’re of no use to whatever man says it. & here in California isn’t it 99% of the time a man that uses Ma’am? Young women know better as they peer into their future!
      Ma’am is a 4-letter word & ranks right up there with the old school b-word, which I’d prefer because then they’d at least think I was mean & capable of hurting them!
      sigh…yeah, men, get a clue before one of us bops you over the head with our mugger beater purse.

      • krisbrake says:

        I hear ya – maybe it’s a California thing that it irks us so much!

      • Kate says:

        I am tremendously grateful once again that I don’t have to live in California. I am in my 30s, a slim US size 4, and look young, so young that I get asked for a form of ID almost every time I buy a pint when I am holidaying somewhere in the US, which forces me to carry around my passport everywhere I go, and I would not mind in the least to be called ma’am! We call HM the Queen Ma’am, the Duchess of Cambridge, too, and all the other female royals regardless of age. I am amazed that people consider that disrespectful and rude. Here in the UK, most people use madam when they address me and other women. It doesn’t matter if I am in the shops, at the chemist’s or in the tube. Madadm it is.
        It appears that manners in the US are declining more rapidly than Pompeji after the eruption of Vesuvius, and I fear that the result won’t be any prettier.

      • Pink0 says:

        that’s bull crap. I am not even 30 and do not have wrinkles. I have long hair , slim, don’t pile on the make up and wear junior clothes and live in California and I do get called ma’am and miss and I could not even be botox, there is nothing to botox. People in California come from all cultures, states and countries. You’re wrong.

      • Yeah, I got started too! I like that as a quote, what you wrote, haha.

        I wouldn’t mind if it were children, I guess, but I don’t often interact with kids. These are mostly shop employees and I feel like they assume I’m older but they. should. NOT! Grrrrrrr… (Hair? Confident attitude [shockingly haha]? Not super skinny? At least I doubt it’s my clothes.)

        I’ve re-appropriated what you referred to as the B-word, and to a massive extent. Years ago, it was my “favorite swear” and now it’s just my favorite word, maybe. I’ve even decided it’s NOT a swear, yet I’d prefer men mostly not use it, like a couple of other words out there with other groups, yet not something to be self-censored in titles, etc. Aggressive censors will continue to do what they want, and that’s sometimes OK for kids, etc. I censored here because that seems to be the preference on this blog. 😉

    • Photos close to home says:

      Raise in Texas and was taught to use “Sir” and “Ma’am.” On the other hand, I do not expect to be addressed as Sir, so every now and then I’m impressed when someone calls me Sir; it typically leads to a larger tip, especially since the alternative nowadays is “You guys” as in “What are you guys going to have tonight?”

    • Old-Fashioned_Johnny says:

      I agree with you and it is frustrating to see people getting aggravated about being shown respect. A lot are the same females that rant about chivalry being dead, it’s not, but some men do not want to make you “Homicidal”, like the writer stated. If they curse at you, that is disrespectful, if they call you ma’am, I am pretty sure they are not looking to offend you. Being polite is a way of life that, unfortunately, a lot of the youth of today are not willing to undertake. Being “old-fashioned” is not so bad, respect is a good thing….

    • Sara Smith says:

      its an okay word if you have a southern accent (strong) and would call anyone regardless of whether they are 16 or 60 ma’am. In that case I always found it charming. Otherwise nothing is too polite about telling someone their face looks older than yours.

  6. I could not agree more – I like M’lady–someone slap that Vincent upside the head! (lol)

  7. MotherJam says:

    I don’t like being ma’amed either. Feels like you’ve been gored somehow. In France, you lose your “Miss” even earlier. I remember being Mademoiselle during my first trip at 17 and then consistently a “Madame” at 22 during my second trip. It was very jarring. And still, it did not make me any better prepared for my American ma’amming that began around age 30. I am comforted to know that I was and still am a M’lady. Thank you.

  8. susielindau says:

    I LOVE this idea, m’lady!

    • krisbrake says:

      thanks! Let’s hope it catches on!

      • KH says:

        M’Lady means Ma’am anyway, it just sounds better.

        Ma’am is the abbreviated form of Madam….the “d” becomes an apostrophe ” ‘ “…Madam comes from Ma Dame, the French form of My Lady.

        I think any way I look at it, there’s just no place for any of those words in today’s society in America. There aren’t Lords and Ladies, and society isn’t as divided between Lords and Ladies and Peasants as it once was.

  9. 20angel13 says:

    You could just move to England. No one calls you anything here. They just take your money and wish you a nice day…

    • lolalantham says:

      I live in England and ma’am and sir is fairly the norm.

      • May says:

        Really? I haven’t called anyone “sir” since I left compulsory schooling at 16 (since then, I have addressed my teachers/lecturers by their first names) and I don’t think I ever said “ma’am” even when I worked in retail. Guess it depends where you are. I did find it jarring when adults started referring to me as “the lady” to their kids – for instance “say thank you to the nice lady” instead of “say thank you to the nice girl”.

  10. Andrea says:

    Love it! On the rare occasion, when someone calls me “Miss” instead of “Ma’am” I tell them I love them!

    • krisbrake says:

      So true! I get a goofy grin on my face when that happens!

    • A weird thing is I actually vow to ignore “ma’am” (and reward miss) but then things get in the way. EIther someone might need to rush past me in a possible emergency, “excuse me, ma’am” or even more normal circumstances. Sometimes I enter the world and turn into a quiet, squeaky, polite, decent, almost-normal human. So weird for those who really know me. Also I have no volume to my babyvoice while inquiring about a lady’s room, etc. I do get social shyness, but it’s one of my odder dichotomies, this.

      Strangers don’t ACTUALLY deserve rudeness while they work in service settings, I guess deep down this trumps my cranky ideals, even for this Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah….. you get the idea. (Trying to respect the atmosphere I’m in.)

      Anyway, then I’m at home or another comfortable or conversational setting. Yelling at the TV, or excitedly increasing in volume pontificating my passions, hurting my boo’s ears, or near a mom who’s inching farther away from this tiny, booming girlwoman. Haha.

      I love the thing from the original Arrested Developement (haven’t watched new yet) with Maeby, pretending to be older, saying “marry me!”

      Rewarding positive is the best!

  11. snmom says:

    You’re so right! I bet Nicki Minaj could do a song on it!

  12. You have got to start writing rap songs, M’Lady! You’ve got the knack for it, and that ain’t whack. (See, I don’t have the gift.)

    • krisbrake says:

      Thank you! I was hoping someone would discover my secret rapper talent!

      • perlamaria29 says:

        Look nobody likes that term they just take it because of course they will think you are crazy if you all of the sudden turn to that perso and tell them if you call me old one more time i would kill you.Here in puerto rico and latin american they say senora to old people meaning 60 or 70 I mean at that age why i should care? But when you are only really hurts.I dont think I am being vain i just dont want to be called old when I am not,maybe I being insecure dont know but I still think that most of them do it on purpose at least in i feel your pain all the way from here.Thank God I am not acceepted in the south I wouldnt be able to live in that shit hole and be called ma am every day lol

        they call me senora (ma,am) and being only 34 literally my heart falls

      • MC MLady, I’d follow you. (That was a really great “rhyme,” although “McShady” would probably be changed for obvious reasons.)

      • SHIRLEY CUSSINS says:

        You really think they are doing it on purpose? It is just respect, and that’s all. There is no age group for ma’am.

  13. I like your idea. I cringe every time someone I’m with says ma’am to a waitress or someone else. Personally I prefer a name whenever possible. I am in the north and realize different meanings prevail in different places. Thanks for your thoughts.

  14. Ausaf Abidi says:

    hmmmm…. could we agree on a non-insulting, yet respectful (read appeasing) salutation for women… M’ladies 🙂
    ‘M’lady’ seems fine…… but anybody who hasn’t read this blog may think I have just time-travelled into 2013 😛

  15. hollyacito says:

    I’m all for M’Lady and not just because I’m on a serious Game of Thrones kick. Ok, maybe it is because of GOT but if you’ve seen how badass the women are on that show, you’d wanna be a M’Lady too!

  16. Lisa says:

    This is a non-issue. I’ve ever been called “miss” in my life. In my field, by male colleagues get called “sir” and I get called “ma’am” as a sign of respect from the people who work for us. I choose to interpret it as such and I utilize the word myself when speaking with women I respect.

    • Lisa says:

      I mean, I could be wrong — maybe they are all secretly calling me an old hag…. but I don’t want to think about that.

      • Nope, you’re not wrong. I’m adamant about calling people “sir” or “ma’am/madam,” as it’s a sign of respect. It’s the respect I never got in the past, and I’ll be damned if I don’t intend to show respect. It’s the same respect I demand now out of my peers. It’s on the level; it’s seeing people eye to eye. If someone tries to throw that back in my face like this, I have quite a few other addresses I could use instead.

  17. jonquil2u says:

    Insulted by “ma’am”? Really? I guess it doesn’t take much to insult people these days. Strangely, I’ve run into women like that…yet they and their friends will refer each other as “b****”, as in “me & my b****es!” or greet each other with a “hey/what’s up, b****es!”

    Seriously, there are worse things to be called than ma’am. I guess I, personally, have more serious things to worry about than screeching that someone said ma’am instead of miss. Neither of those is my name so which ever is used is still inaccurate. Besides, it’s not what you’re called, it’s what you answer to that matters. Oh well…*shrug*

    • Jennifer says:

      right with you! I really don’t mind what I’m called so long as it’s not a swear word, or said in a condescending or rude tone. You have too much to think about if that is going to offend you. But then I’m really easy going and don’t over think what people say or do, after all I have better things to worry about.

  18. Martina Wald says:

    Hilarious. I so do know what you are talking about.

  19. This is one of my pet peeves too. And I definitely want to slap any young thing silly if they try calling me, “honey.”

  20. I live in the rural south where I get ma’am’d all of the time. I hate it too. I love the “m’lady” idea! I’d feel like someone out of Downton Abbey!

  21. gegebearbear says:

    I’m not crazy about the word either, but it was how certain people were raised. Hard to get them to brake habits. They consider it showing respect to you. At least the barista had some manners.

  22. ha! I just noticed while re-reading my latest blog, “she ejaculated!”, that I did the “yes ma’am” thing when I wrote a conversation between a young me and a substitute teacher.
    I hate it, but am brainwashed to do it. doh!

  23. We were raised that way down here in the south. I even call the young girls who take orders at the drive-thru ma’am and I’m ….not young! I’ll keep that in mind though girly….nah that doesn’t sound right.

  24. Adam S says:

    That’s how I feel about “young man”. And, because I respect the wholesomeness of your site, I will withhold the profanities that would typically be used to embellish my feelings about the title. What I’m trying to say is, don’t ever call me young man, you f@$?ing cheese-d&$k.

  25. Food 4 The Soul 93 says:

    I hate being called “sir.” I know what you mean…

    Take care,
    Mr. Skip 🙂

  26. solmasol says:

    Hi in South Africa we use ma’m and Sir most of de time is de way we pay respest to adult people tnx

  27. I HEAR ya! So true! I wish we could come up with a different “title” than Mrs…(Mr(s) and even Miss, begins with M (male). I had an ex who hated me for keeping my original surname because I did not feel like I needed to be referred to as Mrs…belonging to ex. Just saying.

  28. cartoonmick says:

    Humor (humour), my favorite topic.



  29. I don’t mind bein ma’amed. (But I’ve got Southern breeding behind me..)

    this: “Well, thank you, kind sir. I will see you, and your repulsive earlobe, anon.”
    AHAHAHAHA! Love it!

  30. jennpower says:

    That post was funny. M’Lady sounds so… Downton Abbey-esque. I say we learn each other’s first names and refer to people as that. Or I say we start to introduce ourselves to those we meet and refer to them as they introduce themselves. (It would solve the whole ma’am thing-speople use it when they don’t know others names.) I’ve never used the word Ma’am, the first time I ever heard it used was in high school, when my cousin used it in a joking manner after my grandmother told him something.

    If we call people what they wish to be called, I see no disrespect in it. The trick is to introduce yourself and hope they follow suit.

    • Kate says:

      I don’t want people to address me by my Christian name. I am very formal, and until and unless I give somebody explicit permission to use my Christian name, they better stick to my surname preceded by a courtesy or professional title. If my students at uni were to ever address me as Kate, they’d have another thing coming!

      • jennpower says:

        Really? Well, like I said, when someone introduces themselves as Miss/Mr. Whatever, follow suit and refer to them as that. As for the whole uni thing, in my first year, it was really weird to address teachers by their first name, but after they told us “Please call us by our first names” I was like “Um… okay, if that’s what you want.” It’s all about making the person you’re talking to feel comfortable: usually that means use the name they want you to and don’t use something like “ma’am” as a cop-out.

  31. I don’t think the barista is commenting on your age. More likely Miss is too personal for a guy in his position to use with a customer and Milady is waay too personal with romantic connotations (darn romance novels). I think it’s just company policy to say Ma’am as a way of showing respect to female customers over the age of 18 (because Miss is probably only used with teenagers these days).

  32. quiall says:

    It is a great pleasure when someone is concerned about how we speak! Thank you! I now will go forth to spread the word. Forthwith I will follow you hither and fro. I love the English language!

  33. sebastixn says:

    Reblogged this on Lost countdown..

  34. denimfish says:

    Haha Funny, I get it, here in the UK we don’t really get Ma’am (its reserved for the Queen) but I do get the full ‘Madam’ occasionally and that sounds even worse although I prefer it to a ‘cant be arsed to say thank you or even look you in the eye’ attitude. I agree M’Lady sounds better but it conjures up visions of knights and ladies who faint a lot.Hmmm Not easy!

    • elfknitter says:

      Hey, that’s true, denimfish. Even a Ma’am would be better than shop assistants who carry on conversations about their night out while you are waiting to be served! (Is that a very Ma’am thing to say?) I was taught to say “Sir” but not so much of the “Madam”, perhaps because someone who was being difficult was called “a right little Madam”?

      Lots of comments from the good ol’ US but at least you don’t have (or haven’t mentioned yet), the greetings of “me duck” (Derbyshire) or “my lover” (Devon, Cornwall).

      Love the ‘repulsive earlobe’ bit!

    • The first time I got ‘Madam’ I was in my early twenties but looked like I was in my teens and thought it was histerical.

      It is Ms I can’t stand – I’m not divorced or ashamed to be single and hate that political correctness has gone so far that I can no longer use ‘Miss’ (my title of choice) in a great many circumstance because it is automatically changed to Ms against my direct wishes.

  35. Ma’am always brings into my mind a picture of an elderly, yet meticulously maintained hostess of a … well, brothel lolol! I hate being called one too 😉

  36. M’lady is far more becoming and in line with the kind of respect we deserve ;P Good call!

    Funny story: I took one of my daughters to the clinic for her vaccinations, and the nurse there kept calling me, ‘Ma’am’ and I thought, well, this is rather unusual (because really, it doesn’t happen that much here in Australia unless you’re in a fancy store, or a regular store where they’re trying to suck up to you) and then I realised it was just his accent, and he was calling me MUM. Which made it even weirder, because I’ve always found it odd for people to refer to me as ‘Mum’ , unless I gave birth to them. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish…

    • krisbrake says:

      That’s like when office workers call you “mom” when you have your kids with you. Really? Okay I’d go with Ma’am on that one!

    • Kate says:

      I have never been addressed as mum by anybody other than my daughter. If that were to happen, I’d raise my eyebrows, and say with a tone of absolute certainty: “If I were your mother, I am sure I would remember you.”

  37. An entire country too easily offended

  38. segmation says:

    I used to get upset when people called me Ma’am, but I don’t anymore as I realize in their way they are trying to be nice and I should just be polite when they call me Ma’am.

  39. France has abolished the use of Mademoiselle in official correspondence….we’re all Mesdames now…

  40. anaisarielc says:

    I totally agree! i hate when i am called Ma’am!!! I usually tell people in a funny/nice way, hey dont call me ma’am im not that old! it usually makes them laugh.

    • Diane says:

      yEAH it’s disgusting when they laugh. They don’t know how important it is for us to feel young. That’s why I stopped sharing this with anyone in my country anymore.

      • Kate says:

        Why is it so important to feel young? We are all going to age and die one day. It’s an unhealthy attitude to fear the process of ageing and maturing.

  41. hilarious sentiments..i mean post…i can imagine the whole scene and the thoughts thereon. i hope a gangnam kinda reach for M’lady, if it soothes you much. god speed.
    congratulations on being fp!

  42. troismommy says:

    I so completely agree 100%. I wrote a similar blog post quite awhile ago. I almost hugged a guy who called me “Miss” the other day. 😛

  43. lscripsit says:

    I remember a lot of “young man’s” from my youth but very few “sir’s”. I think the “sirs” started accumulating somewhere in my mid-thirties.

    But the real shocker came at a point when the “young ladies” I was trying to chat up responded with a “Excuse me, Sir?” A few of those were enough to get me thinking that it was time to consider a condo in Boca del Vista. Crushing.

  44. sonworshiper says:

    It’s not really a mixture of Miss and Lady, but a respectful term saying “my Lady” from a servant or lower class individual to a superior. It’s not a bad option, but “ma’am” serves the same purpose. This is mostly an American or Western problem. In many cultures – especially Asian countries – there are a host of terms for men and women to differentiate between ages and status. They don’t carry any shame or unwanted burden of age – they serve to recognize the age and social status of elders over youth.
    Being in the military, women are referred to as “ma’am” and men as “sir” regardless of rank or age. I always feared younger women might also view “Miss” as a diminuitive or condescending term.
    The easy answer is girls have cooties, don’t talk to them! (j/k of course, but it works for my kids.)

  45. You’re right!! I like the way you expressed your thoughts and believes. I really enjoyed reading your topic. Thank you.

  46. Could not agree more! There is just something about the word Ma’am that makes you feel old! Even now in my mid 30’s hearing “have a nice day miss” makes you feel awesome, like you just traveled back in time…adds a little spring to your step! Same feeling I have when I carded for a beer. Makes you feel Like “dang I must look good today!”

  47. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, Miss! I totally didn’t get the whole Ma’am = age thing until it happened to me. Now I totally get it!

  48. If it makes you feel better, I’ve never liked being called “sir”. I do believe now, that I will take up the M’Lady movement. Starting right now. (really!)

  49. Seasweetie says:

    I’m with you on the “ma’am” thing. I don’t even like it when my daughter calls me that. And I still recall the first time I was ma’amed – in my early thirties on an airplane. It was a bleargh moment for me. I support the M’Lady movement. I think we need buttons and t-shirts.

  50. This has always been a pet peeve of mine, being called Ma’am! Thank you for saying it just the way I have been thinking it in my mind. I never thought about the M’Lady alternative. I will be encouraging others to use it too. This gets a share on facebook!

  51. lsurrett2 says:


    I give you humble regards as to the predicament in which you find yourself. Addressing one’s acquaintances in life should not be so stressful in this life. I encourage you to continue your polite acceptance of the fact you cannot change the manner in which other’s address you. Please refrain from any reminders that “Ma’am” is a shortened form of Madam, and that by today’s standards, people might mistakenly assume your ownership of a brothel.

    Fondest wishes.

  52. Mchan says:

    We have the same thing in French as men can call you “Mademoiselle” or “Madame” (the whole word not the ma’am equivalent) and it depresses me when I get “madame” !!! We had a huge debate about ditching “mademoiselle” from official documents to stop making a difference between married and single women but I still feel 10 years older when I get madame.
    I hate ma’am in English, M’Lady sound very cockney I wouldn’t mind ^^^… “your coffee M’Lady” yes would definitely like THAT!

  53. Wow. One person said “Ma’am” and the other one responded with “gross,” “whippersnapper,” “dickhead,” and “repulsive.” Which one’s happier in life, do you think?

  54. hrygth says:

    I am 25 and I was recently called Ma’am. No kids, not even married, and already….Ma’am. I honestly felt like punching the guy.

    • Kate says:

      Why? Don’t people want to be grown-ups anymore? I will never understand how women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s refer to themselves as girls. They are not girls anymore, and I was delighted when my daughter’s 16-year-old friend yesterday referred to herself as a young woman. Of course, she displays more maturity and insight than most of the 20-somethings I teach at uni.

      • hrygth says:

        It isn’t about not wanting to grow up, and I refer to myself as a woman not a girl. It is more that by calling a woman ma’am, you are essentially presuming she is married. It is, to me, innately sexist. Men are mister or sir, neither of which presume marital status. Anyway, I had to reread the blog as I posted that comment quite some time ago now.

      • Most of us want to be 17-year-old popstars, to be honest. And we fear looking more like modern Britney instead. (Sorry, huge fan, but yeah…) It’s nuts, sure.

        At least I want to make the actual corresponding music, or rather, something honestly a bit more mature. (Minaj, Allen.)

        Still, there are many other jobs that have this youth ish around it. Or even dating. It’s an awful America/Hollywood/Media/Cosmo/Ad thing.

      • Sara Smith says:

        Its not that we dont want to be grownups, we dont want to LOOK like older grownups. You have a right to want to look how you want to and that is wonderful. But age being a sensitive topic (along with weight) for a female’s definition of attractiveness, it is fairly hurtful overall to have a separate word for a woman who looks older.

      • ML says:

        For me it is a matter of money. In the US, women in their 20s make 90% of every dollar a man in a similar position with equivalent credentials earns. After the age of 30, the gender wage gap rages from 74 to 82% of a man’s dollar. I find that the beginning of the ma’am stage of life coincides with the increase of the gender wage gap. The culture of ma’am—some arbitrary change of status of women after age 3o—is costing some very competent women money and career advancement.

    • Similar here. No kids, no engagement or wedding ring, just lost weight (hot medium curvy and short) and often wear pleather leggings, mini flouncy or pleather skirts (without the leggings), JRy tops, and ballet flats. I try hard to be chic with a rock edge and pretty mostly for my OWN mirror, but gahhhh….

  55. Yes! Exactly!
    This reminds me of an old episode of Mary Tyler Moore “Today I’m a Ma’am” where she deals with the same issue. And I’m almost reluctant to even point it out because it confirms I’m in the ma’am category!
    I swear I wasn’t even born when this episode aired in 1970! Really!

  56. I live in East Texas and it’s pretty normal to be called ma’am by anyone younger than you. If you think you owe that person respect, you call them ma’am. “Honey” and “Sweetie” are used a lot too, (usually from an older person to a younger, which drives me nuts because it seems a little condescending sometimes), I don’t mind being called ma’am, and I honestly can’t ever think of a time someone called me “miss”.

  57. sharam2012 says:

    I get that feeling all the time…

  58. sortaginger says:

    This might be a regional thing for me since I have been called “Ma’am” at work, from the age of 18 through now, by people significantly older than me.

    The flipside to this is that I have been told I look younger than my age (oh, what a burden) and I get “Miss” from sales people. It comes across as condenscending in a way, like I am too young to handle certain things.

  59. erinorange says:

    You’ve missed your calling – that rap is AMAZING! I’ve never been called those, but I wouldn’t like ma’am either, I was called ‘my love’ earlier, it could be worse!

  60. I guess it depends on where you are from. In Texas, “Ma’am” is a term of respect, much like “M’Lady.” Though, I must admit that with the recent flux of Californians, New Yorkers, etc., coming into our state I have noticed a few more cross-stares from some of the ladies. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your post. 🙂

  61. karenspath says:

    I am laughing my head off because the first time I got called ma’am is burned into my brain. I’d just moved to a new town in Oklahoma and a man who is my age called me ma’am. I felt more than a little outraged even though I knew it was just his good manners. So what if I had three kids and one about to pop out. I wasn’t even 30!!! Did I have to be a ma’am? Sigh! Six years later I still notice being called ma’am, but it no longer enrages me. I do like the idea of M’Lady though… maybe I’ll try it on the ma’ams older than me.

    Great post! Thanks for the laugh!

  62. Great post. We could always do as they do in Star Trek and call women “Sir” or would that be going too far?

  63. I got called Ma’am by a boy scout when I was just in high school. I don’t really like it, but that’s because I think a lot of people use it when they’re trying too hard to be polite or are trying to placate you. As for the boy scout, I’m sure he was just trying to be nice.

  64. Love the post. As a woman that is also no longer ‘Miss’ age, I completely related. In Australia, we don’t do a lot of Ma’am. In schools they tend to call the teachers Miss ___ or Mrs ____. Whenever I hear M’Lady in my head, it has a high-pitched British accent. A bit like if a horse could talk instead of neighing. M, laaaaady. So not the best alternative in my head lol.

  65. I completely agree. I haven’t hit 30 and I get called ma’am. That bothers me as well as being called sweetheart or dear by random old men. It really creeps me out.

  66. amelie88 says:

    Well it used to be Madam at some point before we Americans got lazy and cut off the D. Correct me if I’m wrong (somebody from the UK help me out?) but ma’am is not used over there. I’m pretty sure it’s Madam over there! Over in France where my dad is from it’s either mademoiselle or madame, none of that horrible ma’am silliness. I’ve always hated the way the word sounds!

  67. What’s even worse is being called Miss – I’m a Ma’am to most, though like you it fills me with homicidal rage (I might be exaggerating a *tiny* bit). But when some old fella (and it’s always some old dude) calls me Miss, it’s the worst type of faux flattery. I’ll settle for Milady, but I won’t reciprocate with a Milord.

  68. annesquared says:

    “Your Highness” works at home and local shops.
    I agree 🙂 The first time it was Ma’am and not Miss was used, the eyebrows flew up and “I beg your pardon…” came out of my mouth before I even knew I was reacting… I had to relo from the south because of the manners. “Yes, Ma’am” from someone in the service is met with an unconscious, automatic eyeroll.
    And I’m old enough to remember that Ms does not, or did not, originally have a “.” at the end of it when it was “coined.” DId ya’ll know that? 🙂

  69. blooper0223 says:

    I think I want to go with M’Lady, too! What I get here at home in the South is Ma’am, Honey, Sweetie, Dear Brenda or Miss Brenda. Ma’am to me, though, always reminds me of the “ladies” at the cosmetic counter, and we all know that when they say it, it usually means “Bitch.”

  70. karashindle says:

    I just turned twenty-five- everyone thinks I am eighteen, and yet the Ma’am’s have started!

  71. davidatqcm says:

    M’lady methinks that the non-fat latte and ‘here you go M’am’
    morphing to a ‘ Here’s your double espresso, M’am ‘ by article’s end suggests perhaps the hipster barista dude knew more than he was letting on! Your thoughts? lol

  72. Ma’am isn’t common in Australia but m’lady should definitely be universal. Thanks for your insights!

  73. I think I love you. Not long ago I told any young man on twitter who might listen to me how being called Miss made my day. I’m 39. When I’m 59, Miss might come off as silly or even condescending but still, nothing ruins a day like Ma’am. Your suggestion of m’lady is cheeky and I’d take it over that blasted ma’am any day.

  74. dimpledoo says:

    I completely agree! The word ‘Ma’am’ really ruins a persons day. I understand it’s a title of respect, but I’m 21 and I feel so ridiculous when people call me that. I work at a Starbucks, and the customers will call me that. Inside I’m like “really? You’re twice my age and calling me ma’am?” haha.

    • krisbrake says:

      funny – yeah that would be odd!

    • Mia says:

      If the customer is a woman, I’d just call them “ma’am” back. If they are a male, then maybe find some way to bring up a conversation and compare him to your father – that ALWAYS gets under men’s skin. 😀

      • I was just thinking to call dudes “ma’am” back. That’ll (maybe) learn ’em. Haha. They’ll probably ask and maybe even think about it later.

        Wrong for me, wrong for you, but no hurt really, eh?

        Or, well, I think maybe go to what hurts them. “Yes, little d!(k?” (Kidding, unless it’s actually an appropriate place/person.)

        Hey, penis size doesn’t matter either, but boooooooy do they care.

  75. bliss steps says:

    ~ Yep, I understand and I felt the same way like u do! People in the office say that “word” a lot when in fact, they could have just call me by my name instead! Maybe we could give them some slack as they are used to it although it gives me shivers, haha! That M word makes me feel like an oldie (no offense meant for other ladies who prefer to be called Ma’am). You know what I did to them so that they’d stopped calling me Ma’am? I jokingly said, “Call me that f%&#(&@ word again and I’m goin’ to punch you or you gotta treat me to lunch for a week.” Mind you, I didn’t hear that madam word again. Okay, let’s forgive those people who are trained to address us as Ma’am (those who work in hotels, cruises, etc.). Btw, congrats on being FP, beautiful lady! Yep, no madam ever! Cheers! (:

  76. Just wanted to throw in my two cents. I happen to call my 12 year old students “sir” and “ma’am” all the time as a sign of respect to them. I figure if it is good enough for the fine men and women of the military to use the term to show respect, it’s fine enough for me.

  77. sarahnsh says:

    I’ve noticed the whole change since I’ve moved and its was very uncommon from where I came from for anyone to out anything on the end, whether it be a Sir, Ma’am, or a Miss, you just didn’t say it or hear it said. Now, it’s a whole cultural change with how it’s used constantly and I am pretty young but I get called Ma’am all the time by my clients, both male and female.

  78. Kelsey says:

    I can’t believe that no one has mentioned yet (or maybe I missed it?) that this too is an example of our language reflecting female marital status. Ma’am doesn’t mean old, it means married. I get more upset when people call me Miss, because I am married and feel it is disrespectful for people to assume that I’m too young to be called Ma’am (I’m not that young, in my thirties). Please don’t even mention when people I don’t know call me ‘Baby’ or refer to me as a ‘Girl’…. but for people I do know, I really don’t mind any of these titles (though I would still correct ‘Miss’!)

  79. lelittlefox25 says:

    Reblogged this on Le Little Fox and commented:
    Hahahaha…I’m guilty of this..I’ll be careful from now on ^-^

  80. Gail says:

    I was born, raised, and still love in the south. At 53 I still call people Ma’am and Sir. It’s how I was raised and I was taught it’s out of respect. I can’t tell you how many of my childhood friends got whippings for not saying Ma’am and Sir. Where I was raised, it was considered very rude NOT to address people that way. I never looked at it as an “age” thing.

    • MTR says:

      People in the South are generally very friendly. I always thought this was just a myth, until I moved from Chicago to Raleigh. People are just kinder, happier, more friendly here–More prone to wave. People working at fast food joints, total strangers, the checkout lady at Walmart–just plain friendly. I still wonder why. Maybe culture. Maybe because its sunnier and that just makes people happy.

  81. sheenmeem says:

    Beleive me you had it easy. In my country men my age address me as aunt or ma. I would have blown myself into bits with rage a year ago, but now I ignore it.

  82. Red Hen says:

    Sounds from the comments here, that Ma`am means different things in different-or at least, different ages in different places. Here,in Ireland-and I suspect Britain- it just means Old Lady.
    Thanks, M`lady for a very witty post!

  83. pickledwings says:

    Very entertaining read.

    When it comes to people working in shops I’d cut them some slack, it’s very likely in their training and rule book to call people Sir or Ma’am and not their own choice. Several places I’ve worked have been like that.

    As long as how you’d like to be addressed doesn’t belittle or insult those addressing you, I see no reason not to insist on being addressed as you’d like.

    If we meet and I call you “M’Lady”, will you call me M’Lord” in return? 😀

  84. Loved the post. I know it would be so much better being called M’Lady! I totally root up for your idea!!!

  85. GamerDame says:

    To be fair, I’m only 27 & I get ma’amed. No one’s ever called me “Miss.” I don’t think it’s a term most people use nowadays. Ma’am is just a generic polite word for addressing a woman who’s past puberty. But I do agree that switching to M’Lady sounds awesome.

  86. I had the same feeling when a boy called me Madame. It was a few years ago and I’m only 28now!!!!

  87. Kiersten says:

    Ma’am is a term of respect no matter what age you are. People call me ma’am all the time and I am 23 (though often still mistaken for a high school student).

  88. pfstare says:

    There are parts of Britain where you just get called ‘duck’ or ‘love’. Absolutely no chance of M’lady!

  89. pfstare says:

    Also, my 4 year old often answers a request to do something with ‘yes SIR’. Which always makes me smile and I don’t feel is to be discouraged 😉

  90. 76sanfermo says:

    I enjoyed your post a lot and your way of writing is super…!
    Though I ‘ve never tried this experience on me , being Italian and living in Italy , ( here we have other criteria , regarding the matter) , I understand your hilarious/formal protest…….
    I’d pay for being called M’lady at least once in my life .
    It sounds so romantic!

  91. The Guat says:

    Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Yes! Yes! Yes! Totally with you 100% although sometimes I get the double whammy. I get it in Spanish too with Senora and that … dude that’s killer. Spanish makes everything more intense, even the ma’ams. Great post.

  92. shell1221 says:

    So true. Ma’am isn’t really used here in uk but I know exactly where you’re coming from!

  93. Euraina says:

    I could get used to being called M’Lady 😀

  94. Midwestern Plant Girl says:

    I like the M’lady title myself!

  95. I think to myself what a better place (including workplace) we would be if we used ‘My Lady’. I think eventually, I would start to say it with a British accent. Maybe it’s in my own head, but I can see it leading to cups of tea in the afternoon, then more fish & chips, then giving silly titles to people (like Dutchess, or Baron) for no real reason. As I slowly come back to reality, I begin to think what kind of chaos and anarchy it would be if we started sayting ‘My Lady’. Society would spiral out of control and North Korea would be the only super power left. Second thought, I will conitnue to teach my kids to say ma’am or expect my foot to be broken off in their 俗 (that is butt in Korean)

    • Someone Else's Lady? says:

      “My Lady”? Doesn’t that assume ownership? What will the feminists think about that?

  96. MTR says:

    At first I thought you were going to go all feminist with this post… But upon reading I see what you are saying. “Sir,” doesn’t have the same connotation–at least I don’t think it does. I’ve called young women “Ma’am” before, but I meant it respectfully. :-/

  97. Hilarious – and I couldn’t agree more in the idea of having an age neutral alternative title for women. In the same regard, I believe that we should dump the Ms and Mrs. Men don’t have some signifier declaring whether they are married or not – whether they are a husband is not the most important thing about them. They are always Mr. However, by having this separation between ‘young maidens’ and ‘wives’, the titles signify to the rest of society that the most important thing about a woman is her relationship to a man. Infuriating!

  98. fuzzynacho says:

    M’lady sounds perfect to me!
    Good stuff!

  99. safetyharborwoman says:

    Somehow, “Miss” always bugged me. Anyone who’s old enough to menstruate should not be called “Miss.” I’m 40, and just a coupla years ago a young guy behind the counter called me “Miss.” I thought, “Dude, I have gym socks older than you.” But, according to our youth-centric society, it was a compliment after all? 😉

  100. I’m not anti-ma’am, but my roots are southern. The clerks that use it on me still card me when I buy wine. I’ve taught my son to say it – because we live in Virginia, and my family is all in Mississippi and Florida. BUT – my pet peeve is ‘Mrs. So-and-so.’ I can go with ‘Miss Caroline,’ but ‘Mrs. What’s-the-guy’s-last-name’ is just too much.

  101. taimoor.changaiz says:

    I think Ma’am is for respect and for respectful woman I will her call Ma’am 🙂
    It depends on person’s thought and culture that how someone takes it either positively or negatively.

  102. Elli Writes says:

    Being raised a Carolina girl, I have never been able to stop calling anyone I don’t know “Sir” or “Ma’am”. Heck, I’m 25 and I am called “ma’am” on a daily basis. Perhaps the problem isn’t the word, but the perception. I doubt most call you ‘ma’am’ as a way of calling you old, but simply showing you the respect you deserve as a woman and as a human being.

    Likewise, the barista with the earring probably deserves the same respect too, don’t you think? Just as you don’t like being perceived as older (though I believe growing up from a child to a mother is a wonderful honor and gift), I doubt he likes being criticized for his earrings or his age. But maybe he’s wise enough to see beyond outside perceptions and know his self worth.

    Either way, I think the respect you seek is a two way street. Don’t you?

  103. That was an awesome post! haaa. I started being Ma’am at like 25 and that was horrible! I agree, terrible, terrible word. It should be stricken from the english language! Also, your rapping skills are dope. Don’t be surprised if you get a deal and your rapper name is M’Lady. 😉

  104. adviceforwisewomen says:

    I love your article! I get hit with the mam bit all the time too! Yes, it does get to be a little much at times. I agree, being called M’Lady would be much better! Thanks for the smile. . .

  105. First off, this blog made me laugh. Very funny!
    Secondly, I’m from the South. When I was a kid, anyone 18 or over had to be called “sir” or “ma’am”. If we failed to do so, my dad “fined” us 25 cents out of our allowance. My brother usually lost all or most of his, and was often in debt. LOL I only got fined once or twice, since I was a quick learner and pinched my pennies from the time I understood what they were. 🙂 We did often annoy folks who felt too young to be called by those titles, but we did it, anyway. Dad wasn’t letting up, buddy! LOL
    My children are still very young, but I’m introducing sir and ma’am to my little girl already. Being respectful is never outdated.
    I guess it never bothered me to be called ma’am because of my upbringing. I can see how in a different region and culture, it might feel like you’re being called old.
    Still funny! LOL

  106. theconfather says:


  107. swatik6 says:

    Your blog is nicely-written with the true reflection of woman’s concern – Ma’am. If I share the Indian culture, women are never get annoyed with the usage of ma’am, however there is one single word that make them feel furious and insulted i.e. aunty. As the universal note, people usually address women according to their personality, attire and body language. The more you carry yourself confidently, the lesser can anyone guess your age. Great one 🙂

  108. Your post was great M’Lady! Going to see what other little gems you have here. 🙂

  109. whenlifeisgood says:

    As a grown Ma’am, I have never thought of the word as an “age” thing. I have always considered the term as one which shows respect. It seems to me that the writer of the article had a bad day. Why react in a negative manner because of a word?

  110. Cheri Speak says:

    Great post M’lady! Love it. I too have somehow crossed over into the “ma’am” years :/

  111. I like M’Lady, I’ll use it more frequently, I don’t like to be called Ma’am either makes me feel older than I am, and I’m only 23, stupid hipster barista, I really enjoyed your post 😀

  112. klovesbanana says:

    Haha this is so funny. I’m gonna share it with my friends. Thanks M’Lady =D

  113. Mia says:

    I’m 27 years old (I live in Canada) – and people have been calling me ma’am for the last 3 years now. I never really thought much of it, but I suppose that it is because I may look older than my age – I’ve learned to ignore it. 😦 On the bright side, I do like to benefit from people thinking I’m older than I really am – I get more leeway to complain at stores/banks/customer service/etc and be taken seriously. People don’t really seem to take the young’uns as seriously. Haha – there’s a silver lining everywhere.

  114. Same here, i too hate someone calling me mam….read each of of this article seems like my thoughts are drafted

  115. I too hate maam! Thanks for making me laugh and smile!

  116. Matt Tasler says:

    Reblogged this on Matt Tasler's blog and commented:
    Never thought of it that way

  117. This happens to me all the time because I work on an Army post. Multiple times a day my selfesteem drops.

  118. when i read your blog it was as if life was giving me an answer to something that has been on my mind, i wish theyd give me an answer to more important questions :), i have been concious lately when i call an older woman ma’am i started to stop half way through it thinking exactly what you wrote here, is it appropriate is she gona be offended that im making her feel old, and it made me understand a difference in our cultures that language had a hand in.

    in arabic we have many respectful words to use for women rather than just ma’am in english, i thought maybe its becuase english is not my first language and there is something other than ma’am i could use, m’lady like you said would have been cool, in arabic we can say sister(ekhty) or shiekha(tribal honorary name for the wife of the headh shiekh) or hajiya for an older women i think that would resonante closer to ma’am.

    and its an interesting point you mentioned about men being just called sir through their age span, because also in arabic depending on the formalities if the guy has kids or older we call him abu(father) and follow with his sons name or a name of a famous historical character like ali would be abu hasan (ali and hasan his son are respected family members of the prophet mohameds family) so even a guy without kids named ali would be called abu hasan.
    i do apologize for the long reply i got carried away, enjoyed reading your blog

  119. Congrats on being freshly pressed! My least favourite one is ‘honey’, as if I was a little girly or something.

  120. Right on, sister — I mean, m’lady. Lovely. (and thanks for the guffaw!)

  121. Awesome, I Needed and Awesome laugh today. Thank You, “Miss” – Mom

  122. uxo22 says:

    This is the DUMBEST blog I have ever read. First off, you called the guy a “little whippersnapper”, you also called his earring gross and said that he’s a hipster. Then with no intended harm meant to you (most likely out of respect) he calls you Ma’am and it incites to mentally call him a d#$%khead.

    Wow, what have the world come too, people being blown up during marathons and you’re walking around b!tching because someone that doesn’t even know you called you Ma’am. The only problem you have with ma’am is that in your mind it means that you’re old? Really? There are a few choice words that he could have called you that I’m sure you wouldn’t have liked…Just saying.

    Guess what, one day you are ACTUALLY going to be old, nothing will be implied, then what are you going to do, lock yourself in your basement because you don’t want to be old.

    You argument about being called Ma’am is STUPID. I personally call women ma’am out of respect. It’s better than “baby, shorty, sweetie” isn’t it; or would you prefer those pet names? Either way, I think you are over-reacting and need to chill out…MA’AM!

    • Phoenix Rizing says:


    • Kate says:

      I quite agree. After reading the post and several of the responses, I have come to the conclusion that these are the same women who refer to themselves and their friends as girls (Have you ever seen a 45-year-old girl? Neither have I.) or b*tches — which is even worse. They also seem to have a tremendous fear of getting older and a profound lack of wisdom and courtesy probably viewing wisdom and courtesy as insults. I don’t understand this senseless worship of youth, as each and every one of you will get older and gasp, eventually die.
      The really interesting question is whether it will be before, during or after this country falls. The moral decay and decadence have become so prevalent and pervasive that much of the US makes a Roman orgy look like a nursery school picnic.


      I love your response! You nailed it! We are cracking up, thank you very much!!

  123. Ricari says:

    Here in South Africa the word ‘Mam’ is respectful, that’s what we call our teachers and I loved the first time someone called me that….

  124. SandySays1 says:

    Hmmmmmm, I reckon you’re not from the South. My human addresses all of the fairer sex that way. He’s a true son-of-the-south. (Though some use a few different and added words at the end to describe him.) In the true “old South” ladies are all ma’ams. That’s whether they’re oozing estrogen in a pair of two sizes to small jeans that their 20 year-old dairie-aire is compacted into…or a mature lady of his ancient vintage. The Geezer (that’s what I call him) is referred to as “sir” now and again but “pops”, “old fellow” and “grandpa” are as frequent. Now, in truth, he could probably whip most of those folks that call that but… I mentioned your adversion to being a ma’am rather than miss or ma’lady or, I’d guess, babe. He chuckled and said, “I reckon a woman should be called whatever she wants. I know all about being typed as something your not, though I’m more concerned how I’m being treated. Most gals referred to as ma’am are generally treated with real respect. I can think of other words used to describe the fairer sex that wouldn’t let her fair as well. Like her spunk, though. She’s one lady who wouldn’t mind pulling “Gee” if’n someone told her “Haw.” He’s right, but I’ve found that in situations like you’re talkin’ about – If I bark less and wag my tail more the treats come quicker.

  125. thronedancer888 says:

    You haven’t been anywhere until you’ve been “HONEY’D””!!! I’ve had the terribly bad experience of being the recipient of this ignorant, disgusting term of endearment in S.C. mostly from store clerks. If I had a goat to get this was it! I finally replied “I find that very offensive” to which I would get oh, ohhh long drawn out…defensive response about southern manners etc.

  126. smilingbug says:

    This is great. I’m with you. I’ve been called ma’am for years and I think it should be reserved for Queen Elizabeth only LoL

  127. guptajahanvi says:

    HAHAHA! This post had me out right laughing hysterically! This is hilarious – especially the rap about the M’Lady.

  128. Omg. Lmfao. I really had the time of my life reading this! Im 24 I’ll be 25 in November and to pretty much tell you how I feel about that (although as foolish as it may seem to some) Is a direct cut to “This is 40” where she’s at the window with gloves and cig crying and looking yonder dreading the big 40. But instead of 40 its 25 😐 lol any way I’m southern so we tend to say ma’am and sir after everything almost when talking to someone in respect. But I can certainly see where your coming from because just the word alone can trigger “age-rage” as my mom calls it for me. The day I get called ma’am is probably going to be the day I have a heart attack. Great read though I enjoyed it lol.

  129. Hannie says:

    I used to work in a builders merchant so I used to get Love, Sweetheart and Duck on a regular basis. (I think Duck mit be more of a British one) It was funny though because the time I tried to use Mate to one of the regular builders (as a bit of an experiment) he got proper annoyed with me so I won’t back to Sir. I guess Ma’am is supposed to be the equivalent of Sir – maybe?

    The one that annoyed me the most though and really made my blood boil was when guys who didn’t even know me called me Babe. Ugh!

  130. Ernie Peters says:

    I was annoyed by your dislike for the respectful term “ma’am,” until i got to your suggestion of sustituting “m’lady.” What a great idea! I completely agree with you and am ready to make the switch.

  131. nikajones225 says:

    M’lady sounds like a much better idea to me! I’m still in my 20’s and though I’m in my late 20’s most everyone will say I look 23-25, but at certain stores a young kid will call me ma’am and I’m like really? I don’t even have kids! I’m not even married yet! Do I really look like a ma’am and not a miss? Although at other places I am called miss still.. I see where you’re coming from in our society ma’am seems to be a put down. M’lady would be flattering and you would feel special hearing it 🙂 At least I would!

  132. Delta Moxie says:

    I live in the South a have taught my only child to say “yes ma’am”/”no ma’am” but I’m with you…it irks me to no end when someone (other than a child) refers to me as ma’am. And be around my age & call me ma’am…that should be against the law.

    Love M’Lady & your rap!

  133. A.J. Goode says:

    “Ma’am” is still preferable to “Hey, Lady!”

  134. LyndaMichele says:

    I remember my first ‘Ma’am’ like it was yesterday. The shock still hasn’t worn off, and I’m 49, lol. Have a nice day, M’lady 🙂

  135. Haha love this post. I am 24 yrs old , and was raised in Maryland to say maam and sir. However since i moved to NY i see its mot common her at ALL and people take offense to it sometimes. Thanks for sharing though

  136. Ann Kilter says:

    Isn’t that the truth. Ugh.

  137. Sukoshiyama says:

    I think what’s more irritating is a condescending statement such as when i remarked that i didn’t know there were wireless printers already, the attendant said in the most polite and well modulated voice, he replied with “We’re already using high technology here, it’s called wifi.” as if i didn;t know what he was talking about. he took me as an uneducated customer… i just smiled but i never said a word. though i was tempted to tell him that of course i know, duh?! i was just surprised that you can also have a wireless printer installed.

    😀 😀 😀

  138. Life and Other Turbulence says:

    Ma’am…UGH. But I equally hate ‘Miss’. ‘Miss’ sounds completely sterile to my ears. ‘Miss, can I get you anything?’ / ‘Female, can I get you anything?’. Besides, when said female is OLDER than the individual doing the asking, well, that’s just WRONG. (Isn’t it??) And what about ‘babe’? From a total stranger…it just creeps me out. I just stare and wait for that wink…it’s gotta be coming, surely. Then I can bid that dude ‘adieu’.

  139. M’Lady, I agree wholeheartedly with you.

  140. says:

    Come live in Australia… And no, we don’t use the term ‘Sheila’ any more!

  141. mulwasm says:

    Very hilarious indeed

  142. silyoj says:

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’ve just moved to Pakistan and was slightly freaked out the other day when I was referred to as ‘mem-sahib’ for the first time. I felt like some Imperialist Victorian….(and is it wrong to say that I sort of liked it?).

  143. bruincello says:

    But the problem is . . It feels so good to have respected a pretty . . Young lady of whom you don’t know if she’s married or not. . I say that when you meet someone on the street you don’t realy check for a ring on the finger . . Even worse if they are pretty you get stuck on the face . . But stearing is rude. . Then I usually call them the word you . . Happen to dislike;-) which just a respect . . Instead of “hey you;-)”

  144. aybirin says:

    I’m from the Philippines and we use Ma’am or Madam all the time (even in McDonalds, when a teenager is buying her fries, the people at the counter address her “ma’am”). However, there are some private schools where teachers are called, “Miss,” even if they’re married.
    Thanks for this post. At least I found out that there are really words that tick people off and I would be very careful in using the word, just in case. 🙂
    Have a great day ahead! God bless you! 🙂

  145. Mona says:

    Haha! You are doing pretty well, trust me. God forbid if you ever move to the national capital region of India, kids on the street would be calling you ‘Aunty’.
    Yes, Aunty & Uncle is the colloquial usage for addressing ‘Ma’am’s.

  146. I just wanted to add that, when I was in Shanghai, because of the way waitress learn their English, they greeted everyone with. “Good morning SIR, what would you like?” . Yup including us woman….

  147. I hate being called ma’am too 😦
    LOVE your rap though! I hope a YouTube rendition will follow soon :p

  148. scorpion0644 says:

    hey,this is first tym i hv stopped by to read ur’s really nice….
    a lot to learn
    well can u do d same by atleast reading my

  149. thechantaltabo says:

    This is funny! And I agree, people should use “M’Lady”, makes us feel more sophisticated. lol

  150. one of my teacher had the same prob with maam

  151. Al says:

    I feel you! I’m 19 this year and a customer I was serving called me “ma’am” today. I died a little inside. Then again, I don’t like it when they call me “little girl” as well. Not in english, but in mandarin. I agree it can be insulting!

  152. KhrystianB says:

    True story: I recently started physical therapy (nothing too serious) and the therapist who was assigned to me looked at my chart, looked up at me, looked back down to my chart, gave me a semi-nervous smile and greeted me with “Hi, Ms. Khrys.” I witnessed his struggle on whether or not to call me ma’am. – Well done PT guy, well done!

  153. Evez says:

    I love the South 🙂 They call you “sweety” and “honey”! I’m only addressing older ladies with “Ma’am” though! (since I know many young don’t like being called ma’am

  154. Where I come from everybody is called mamm or aunty if they are older than you I guess it’s an Indian thing.

  155. phoxis says:

    Very nice write-up, kept me stuck till the end, and also made my eyes scan down the comments!

    Here, there is not much difference between “Madam”, “Miss” in everyday use (at least not in my knowledge), and I never have heard anyone to use “Miss” except for in school. But “Sir” is “Sir” 😀 . The “Sir”, “Madam”, “Miss” has crept inside our mother tongue and become a part of it.

    I don’t like when people call me “Sir”, although it is said to give respect. This is because when you pronounce “Sir” a picture of a black suited oldish person with a bow-tie, white shirt, maybe a champagne glass in one hand and a straight serious face with a cold serious look comes in my mind, which I hate very much. “Dude” , “Man”, “Guy” etc. sounds great. It brings a picture of a person in casuals chilling out. 😀

  156. It could be worse. I still remember being called “sir” by a young service station attendant–yes, they once had such things–and I was a 17-year-old girl at the time.

  157. lauraneed says:

    So true, I even hate being called Mrs.Need. Mrs.Need is a nice older woman who lives in Maryland and suffers from gout. I’m just Laura, young, hip me. (Right?)

  158. palegirllife says:

    M’Lady, I loved reading this! So funny yet truthful. I am 21 years old and I get class ma’am and it literally makes me want to look that person in the eyes and ask, “Do I LOOK old? No? Okay, call me Miss then, old man.” Then again, I’m just not that mean to actually say that, so it all just collects inside of me until one day I’ll go off. By the way, I’m all for starting a M’Lady revolution!

  159. candidkay says:

    You pegged it! Brilliant.

  160. blubyrd says:

    Thanks for giving me an enjoyable laugh this morning 🙂

  161. taehreh says:

    I also hate when people Ma’am me. I got it yesterday and wanted to yell “I’m only 25!!” but of course I just smiled and acknowledged them.. Sigh.

  162. Carla says:

    There’s a waiter at one of my favorite restaurants who addresses all female patrons as “m’lady.” Plus, he’s from from a middle eastern country, so he has a magical accent when he says it. Love it!

    Also, while I’m from South Carolina, I actually never had that “ma’am” thing ingrained in me. My husband did, so he is a big “yes ma’am”/”no ma’am” person. My mom always does the polite small talk: how are you?/fine thanks and you?/have a nice day/you too. Once we were at the bank drive-through, and when the teller greeted me with “How are you?” I said, “Fine, thanks.” My mom nudged me, “And you?”

  163. sassypanties says:

    First of all – Holy crap – congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

    Secondly – Just WAIT until the “Ma’am” happens at the same time you have the MOTHER OF ALL HOT FLASHES followed by the most ENRAGING mood swing. I fear for anyone near me when those worlds collide – because someone is gonna get hurt.

  164. DivMa says:

    Hal-i-lu-YA! You said it! I’ve been feeling this way for an embarrassing 10+ years…which means my first run in with, “Ma’am” occurred before i was even 30 for the LAHVE of GAWD. Since then, I’ve shared your sentiment and am delighted make your acquaintance, m’lady!
    PS: Nice work on da rap, yo, yo!

  165. djwhitmore says:

    Any one else thinking of the “Married with Children” episode where Al stated the National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood or No Ma’am. It was created to fight the increasing power of women in society (and to bowl and drink beer).

    Wait, no one else remembers this?

    • krisbrake says:

      A friend of mine sent me a link and they had the same “no” slash thru Ma’am. Too funny. (can’t say that I watched it unless I did and it somehow entered my subconscious)

  166. Yoli Caban says:

    Love this! Nothing informs you more quickly that you no longer appear youthful than a young adult calling you ‘ma’am.’ And, M’lady, you got some rap skills! 🙂

  167. laurenemily says:

    Totally with you! The whole miss, ms., mrs. thing kills me too. If my husband just gets to be called Mr. all his life, why can’t I have just one damn prefix too?

  168. Aly B says:

    I’ve been called ‘ma’am’ ever since I learned to drive and started going places by myself when I was 17. That is by no means old enough to be a ‘ma’am’. I hate being called ma’am like I hate ‘Ms.’. Now that I live in the South I have to learn to deal with ma’am, honey and sweetie. I just can’t win.

  169. John Potter says:

    I understand the frustration. When I hear “Mr. Potter” the comment reminds me of my father, not to immediately turn around and say “hello.”

    As a soldier, everyone is a “Ma’am,” “Sir,” or addressed by rank. It is a sign of respect and never an issue of age. Food for thought.

  170. Jewels says:

    I totally relate! M’Lady sounds good to me!

  171. I can relate somewhat! But here in the South (and I live in the deep South, although I’m not from here), people started calling me ma’am when I was 16. So it’s definitely not an age thing here; I very rarely get called Miss by itself, only with my last name attached. Ma’am I get all the time. So take comfort in that! But I do like the m’lady idea… It adds a certain air of dignity to one’s personage, I think!

  172. Rhonda says:

    Totally agree. I’ve made the transition from miss to ma’am and don’t like it even a little bit! M’lady it should be. Much nicer (and younger sounding) than ma’am.

  173. You’re absolutely right, I think we should make “M’Lady” the new thing. I’m still in the Miss stage (not bragging I promise) and it makes me feel strange when people refer to me as ma’am. I can definitely see the dichotomy in our society with age categorization of women. I promise to be more frugal with my use of the word ma’am. I can see how that might bother someone. I love your writing style and intend to follow your blog. Thank you so much for brightening up my night, M’Lady!

  174. LillianC says:

    M’Lady works for me! Ever since the gray streaks grew in at my temples, the 20somethings have been “Ma’am”-ing me. I read this with great pleasure. Thank you!

    And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  175. […] was reminded of all this while reading a post by Kristen Hansen Brakeman.  Like many other women, hearing this word makes her feel that she is […]

  176. This is exactly how I feel when service staff call me Ma’am! It just makes me feel way too old. And it’s horrible because I’m younger than most of them! So maybe they’re not making the separation. It’s just sort of automated for them. Females are all “Ma’am” and males are all “Sir”.

  177. Jennifer says:

    “Ma’am” does, in fact, mean “m’lady”. It is just short for the French “madame”, which means….. My Lady! So feel proud being called “ma’am”!

  178. Reblogged this on KristenIsCalm and commented:
    This really made my day and I’m glad I’m not alone, even if I am just 16 years old. I would still loved to be called M’lady. Awesome post!

  179. famedefame says:

    Nice. I enjoyed reading your post. Over here in Pakistan, young guys are generally addressed as “Bhai”, the old-ones are called “Uncle”. So far I’m getting away with “Bhai” …

  180. S. J. Paige says:

    I’m 25 years old and I get called ma’am on a regular basis. I’m not married. I’m not engaged. I could be eating at a cafe by myself and still be called ma’am and not miss, or if I’m on the phone with the bank. Maybe its because teaching the difference as disappeared from our society. Or maybe it’s because places like Vons assume you are a Mrs. when you walk in with your boyfriend and use his rewards card. “Thank you, Mrs. Tandy.” /sigh.

    Bring M’lady back!

  181. dvm2015 says:

    I’m 22 and people have started calling me ma’am. It frustrates me, because at heart I’m a 5 year old and I’ve always felt that ma’am equates to someone at least a generation older than you. Being said, I know if I’m trying to be extremely respectful I would say ma’am, regardless of age (unless they’re obviously teenagers), so I don’t judge others too harshly for saying it to me. However in 2 years I’ll be a veterinarian, and if I get truly frustrated with people calling me ma’am, I’ll just start replying “that’s doctor, actually.”

  182. Katie says:

    I hate being called ma’am! I’m still young and vital, damn it! I love the idea of m’lady.

  183. hikikomori78 says:

    Great read.

    Hilarious, m’lady.

  184. I agree with the problem, and like your solution. So funny!

  185. Here in the Philippines, Ma’am is commonly used to refer to a customer but I get your point because it really has that “age effect.” I like the idea of M’Lady too, it’s nice to the ears.. Nice post! 🙂

  186. mollytopia says:

    I totally agree with you, and it’s starting to happen to me, too! I’m just as annoyed with myself for caring as I am at them for saying it to me. Great post, and M’Lady it is!

  187. CBeckyBlog says:

    I’m from the south, so ma’am is just a sign of respect. Better than honey or baby or dollface, no?

  188. mommyminchin says:

    I share some of your sentiment. Whenever somebody calls me this, I really insist that they call me by my first name. It’s just sounds so unnatural.

  189. Ha ha…M’lady…I just luved it……In India, Madam, Sir, Uncle , Aunty are all very common…..At work place ,it is either Madam or Sir……Just ignore & carry on…..You are what you are…Nobody can change that, isn’t it….Just chill, my dear……

  190. happy4tupree says:

    well, I got call ma’am at the bank even I’m only 20 years old, they do it here in Indonesia. Is a respect.

  191. I loved this, but you would most certainly hate me! Where I’m from, it’s a sign of respect. So much so, that when I was a child, it was beat into me. “Yes, Sir. Yes, M’am” where not meant to reflect age, but as a way of saying “see, I was taught manners!” I do it subconsciously most of the time, I suppose through some form of conditioning. Women often say chilvary is dead, but for the few gentlemen left in the world who try to prove it is not, efforts are viewed almost oppositely as how they were originally intended.

  192. Yes Ma’am, I mean, M’Lady. Can I get you another double mocha choca yaya latte Lady Marmalade?

  193. whysamiam says:

    Hahahah!! Brilliant M’lady!! hahaha!!

  194. kat says:

    I’m in my early 20’s and I get called ma’am! (Only at work thank goodness!) It makes me cringe everytime it happens. One of the men I worked with heard a client call me ma’am as he was leaving and he just stared in disbelief then looked at me, laughed and said “ya, that just happened.”

  195. I was raised in the south and never said the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without a ‘Ma’am’ or ‘Sir’ attached. They still pop out that way from time to time. But now I live in the Pacific Northwest, where waiters afraid of people like you call me Miss and my son Sir. It’s beyond stupid but I am too well mannered (you may have heard about my Southern upbringing) to tell him he’s got it wrong. Ma’am has nothing to do with age and everything to do with respect.

    • multiplexer says:

      Funny post..Not because it’s witty but because of its ridiculousness. It was surprising to learn that being addressed as “Ma’am” by a random guy, ruined your day!

    • Lisa says:

      It sounds to me like the word miss is not used in the south, but here in the Pacific nw miss is used until you are “old” and then you start getting called ma’am……which makes women feel bad. If I had only ever been called ma’am it would not bother me but being called miss until my early thirties and then getting called ma’am is extremely upsetting……People just look at me and suddenly think I am old enough to be a ma’am. (side note, I don’t consider myself a girl and I don’t refer to my friends as bitches as other posters had assumed) It’s definitely a cultural difference. Men are always sir unlike women who have miss when youthful and ma’am when they are old. It’s not right.

  196. jaggednib says:

    I’ve just recently started getting ma’am’ed and I agree, it IS a total slap in the face!
    I seriously think we should take back M’lady! That is a wonderful thing to call women. Let’s spread the word and have that make a come-back!

  197. […] Don’t Call Me Ma’am […]

  198. Great post! Hilarious! Loved it!

  199. Taylor Reznik says:

    “M’Lady” sounds better than “Ma’am,” but it can be construed as too personal and too sexist in our feminist-influenced world. Consider the following hypothetical scenario at the local coffee shop.

    Guy: I will have a double espresso, M’Lady.
    Coffee Girl: What? I am not your lady.
    Guy: That is not what I meant, although you are quite attractive. I can certainly visualize you being my lady.
    Coffee Girl: What? Are you hitting on me?
    Guy: No, Ma’am.
    Coffee Girl: Did you just ma’am me?
    Guy: It just came out. I am from the South. I apologize. Can I get my double espresso?
    Coffee Girl: No. You should leave before I get my manager involved.
    Guy: Is that necessary?
    Coffee Girl: You verbally assaulted me with your sexist remark about me being your woman. I just learned about misogynists like you in my women’s studies class.
    Guy: I am not a misogynist. Do you even know what that means?
    Coffee Girl: Yes, you are; and yes, I do.
    Guy: (Gives Coffee Girl a look of bewilderment, turns, and walks out)
    Coffee Girl: (Thinking to herself) That guy is a first class pig. I will never marry a guy like that.

    The world is not ready for “M’Lady.”

  200. Isn’t this why the “Ms” has been introduced, to expel of the miss/mrs disctinction? In France, they have now stopped using “mademoiselle”, as all women now are called “madame”.

  201. eric.rial says:

    Men don’t have to put up with being called Ma’am, very true, but there is always the sign at the supermarket… we card under 35 (or whatever age) and at some point it goes from really looking at the card (front and back), to a glance, to not even taking it from your hand (even if you push it at them and wave it around)! Couldn’t they just keep politely glancing at it?

  202. Just wait until they ask you if you get the ‘senior discount’…I’ll take Ma’am any day. Even better, yesterday a woman/girl who could have been my granddaughter called me ‘sweetie’. I’ve got to say, that made me pause…

  203. Ah, so many good chuckles. I don’t know about most of you, but I’m 37 and when I was 31 an Estee Lauder counter employee, whom I affectionately refer to as Ignorant Hag told me I had better add a wrinkle prevention step to my daily cleansing routine. Were it legal to bitch-slap department store clerks (and in this case I think it should be), I would have done so. And let’s not discuss the mass hysteria when I found a grey hair the other day. Suffice it to say, we feel your pain.

    • krisbrake says:

      thanks! Yeah I think that’s justifiable. I’m afraid I had that reaction to the grey hair too. Sadly, that lone grey hair now has many friends.

  204. Great article! Why must we stick to “SIR” or “MADAM” terminology when a simple “hello” with an attempt of a smile would have done the job much better? On this related subject, here’s something I wrote on the idiosyncrasies of language:

  205. Oloriel says:

    “I say we ditch both “Miss” and “Ma’am” and for lack of a better idea, bring back the antiquated Victorian term, “M’Lady.”” – we most defenatly need this! I am 23 years old, but I am a mom, so people where I live keep calling me M’am! It sounded just like one part of your post, something like:”What you doing in bookstore shopping for Terry pratchet books, you are a m’am!” it is so annoying at times.

  206. Well, would you believe that they would call you an auntie in most parts of India? Men of that age are universally called uncles here!

  207. My vote is for M’Lady. I passed the Ma’am stage decades ago. The first time I heard it I almost fell out of my shoes.

  208. I don’t think this is an agist thing, this is an issue a lot of people have with formalities. We’ve become such a casual society, we have a lack of expression for referring to strangers. Strangers are stupid. I’m 24 and I’ve been a ‘Ma’am’ for 6 years….wtf

  209. Susan Buck says:

    I agree “Ma’am” makes me want to slap supermarket attendants and restaurant waiters. I sympathise with those ladies who are married with kids who mourn the fact they are not “Miss” anymore – but, I’m still a 40-something Miss not a Ms or a Mrs and definitely not a Ma’am.
    I do like M’lady . . . lets make a change . . . thank you M’lady.

    • Jack Handy says:

      Do you mourn the fact you’re 40-something and still a Miss by chance? Something dramatic must be causing your thoughts to resort to violence so quickly over something so ridiculous.

      I can see it now. Women calling each other m’lady assuming men will follow hahaha.

      I like Lord. Let’s make a change. Not just me of course – all men.
      Lord Jack

  210. This was a good read. M’Lady also sounds a bit for the older generation, but perhaps that’s what I think because I’m a young 20-something-yr-old who sees that word as SO Victorian times. But I agree, if we all start using it, we’ll all quickly get used to it 🙂

    • P.S. when I first saw your post’s title, I thought of how my “word” that I absolutely cannot stand is “dear”, don’t call me “dear”! Just because. 🙂

  211. What a delightful read! Thanks for posting it!

  212. chrisdeputy says:

    Great blog ma’am! I’m from the UK so luckily I don’t get that. I get called “love” and “darling” and “sweet cheeks”. And I’m a man!

  213. Alright, i’ve had a heck of a morning, not really but yeah. Anyway, I have just laughed my way, out loud, through your post. I love it!! I too am a mom of three. I get security guards following me and my two girls around the mall when we’re out together looking at make-up or clothing like we are three teenagers who are getting ready to steal something. So many times I’ve had to go up to them and explain I’m their mom and we are just looking. We get the “yeah right” look and last time someone even accused me of lying that I was their mom!! HAHAHA
    I do get the odd Ma’am sometimes and for me finally makes me feel “grown up”. hahaha
    thanks for this excellent post. It made my day 🙂

  214. Reblogged this on Teen Mom to Teens and commented:
    I came across this post. I laughed out loud as I read it. It is very funny. Well, I think so anyways 🙂

  215. moragandme says:

    I laughed out loud at “I will see you, and your repulsive earlobe…” Too funny!

    And M’Lady should definitely be a thing.

  216. billieazahir says:

    I am so happy to come across this! I relocated from Nebraska to Georgia and had to deal with this insult head on. To make matters worse, I get told that I am lacking training on good manners by not appreciating be called this and refusing to use it directed to another. They ask me, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is I don’t like it! Is me not liking it enough to stop you from calling me that. Then they respond back, “Sorry Ma’am, it’s habit because we were taught manners down here.” So correct me if I’m wrong, giving a person a title they find offensive should NEVER be considered “good manners.” Finally, I have another who sees my frustration in this. Thanks for sharing this my fellow M’lady. 🙂

    • thronedancer888 says:

      I so agree! I find “ma’aam” presumtuous, insulting, degrading, offensive, unnecessary and in very bad taste! Take that you southern rednecks hiding behind the tired manners diabtribe! Better manners to keep your ignorant mouth shut and not offend anyone if you don’t know where they are from.

      • Phoenix Rizing says:

        WOW! THAT was uncalled for. Who’s the rude one, again? With that attitude, I bet you get called the word that rhymes with “witch” more than you do “ma’am”. You might want to take your own advice and keep YOUR mouth shut & fingers away from the keyboard.

      • Jack Handy says:

        Rhymes with hypocritical “hunt” sounds most appropriate for someone with manners like that.

        Presumptuous? I’m no southern redneck and most likely live in a different country further North than you.

        Name says it all, (rhymes with class though she has none) glued to the self-proclaimed throne she’s sitting on.

        Kettle, meet pot.

  217. Brian Anderson says:

    Great post ! Thanks for sharing

  218. It is a lot worse in Tamil Language (South India) At one time you are ‘Akka’ or sister. Suddenly people start addressing you as ‘Amma’ or mother.

  219. ambikasingh2 says:

    🙂 it is lot better than being called an “Aunty”. “Aunty” is a term most commonly used to refer to women who are married and have kids, women who are generally over 50.

    I hate to be called an Aunty because neither I am married, nor I am over 50. But, because I have nephews (8 and 5s), I have automatically become the universal “Aunty”………..

  220. This was highly entertaining. While I love the way it sounds, I have one problem with M’lady. The M. My Lady. I’m not theirs.

  221. FUchick1 says:

    I can relate! One morning you wake feeling pretty good, rocking the skinny jeans, not a gray hair in sight and the “Ma’am” is like a sucker punch to the gut reminding you technically you could be a grandmother. What happened to 40s being the new 30s. Us new 30s should not be called Ma’am. I couldn’t agree more.

  222. duaimei says:

    Well, as a 20-something, I’ve already been called Ma’am a few times. So far I find it amusing.

    A fun tidbit: in Asian cultures you suffix a name with a title. In Chinese 小姐 (xiaojie) would be the equivalent of Miss. However, when I was in China, I heard that this is also what men call prostitutes. I was very perplexed, and not knowing of an alternative appropriate title never addressed women with a title.

  223. msperfectpatty says:

    “I’ll tell you what the sitch’ is, Straight up from McShady, You hangin’ with your bitches, But I’m hangin’ with M’lady.” Absolutely genius! lol I love it!

  224. M’Lady…excellent.

  225. […] The paragraph above is from Kristen Brakeman‘s blog post entitled “Don’t Call Me Ma’am“ […]

  226. The last time someone I worked with called me “ma’am” I told him if he called me that again I’d punch him in the face. I said this with a charming smile, I’ve got one of those innocent faces, so it shocks people when I’m vulgar or swear. I’m sure he wasn’t worried about the threat of violence either. He laughed, but we later decided that “bitch” was a much better way to go. I can live with that. : )

  227. Mind Voice Uncut says:

    worse is when people call you SIR.. have had that experience..

  228. Dena Maddie says:

    My favorite is the condescending “Sweetie”. But on the ma’am defense, I was trained in the ROTC to address all female officers as “ma’am”, despite the average age of 21 of the female officers.
    “ma’am, yes ma’am” became habitual, and to some people’s defense, with the waning of politeness in this day and age, I’ll take what I can get in terms of chivalry.

  229. I like this argument. I’ve felt this way about the word ma’am for many years now. I’m 27 (I look 23) and have been called ma’am since I was 20. I know that ma’am is taught to most as a sign of respect, what they’re not taught is that lady’s under 30 are referred to as miss (which I read in a magazine that it’s okay to get mad if you’re under 30 and get called ma’am). This is where I got mad until the day I started working a retail job in the mall. Which is where I realized that almost EVERYONE i was running into at my perspective store was so self entitled and thought they deserved everything and that I was trash. So, now when someone calls me ma’am at this point, I am thankful. There could be a lot more, and much nastier things people could call you. Great read. 🙂

  230. but i use ma’am to respect someone superior than me 😀

  231. girlseule says:

    I’m for bringing back m’lady, though would women say it to other women? We don’t really use ma’am here much in Australia, at least not where I live. Actually I’m not sure what we use. Mate, Love, or Hey You probably.

  232. justapinch13 says:

    I have ranted more than once on the same topic…why isn’t there a better term? Would I be offended if the kid at the Starbucks window handed me my latte with a “there you go sexy lady” ? Probably…but it would make my day too!

  233. Reblogged this on The Narcissistic Anthropologist and commented:
    Love this post! Mainly because I actually frequently apologize to women when I accidentally call them Ma’am (“sorry I called you Ma’am”). And it’s because the word holds a good amount of social commentary. My favorite commentary the writer suggests is that we have many ways to designate a woman’s age / life stage and otherwise value as a human through the way we address her (Miss, Ma’am, Young lady, “Sweetie”, etc.) but very few for men (Sir or Mr.). Interest thought on the social context of language and a hilarious read that many of us can relate to…

    • krisbrake says:

      Thanks for the reblog! It’s true – obviously I’m kind of being silly – but it is a cultural thing that we differentiate between women and not men. Also interesting are the responses from around the world – no Ma’am in UK, “auntie” in India etc. Love the name of your blog. I was an anthropology major in college and I’ve always been fascinated by linguistic anthropology – how language reflects our culture so much.

      • Language really is a great cultural indicator. Do example: in many tribal cultures the word Mother refers to any adult female who is related to you. This not only enforces the concept of “the village” but also a respect for females as those who will play the central role in your care and upbringing.

  234. This always startles me when I hear it! I know people are trying to be respectful but at 29 I don’t feel like a ma’am!!

  235. TheLvisMan says:

    As a guy who’s worked in customer service with direct face-to-face contact with everyone for 15 years I agree whole heartedly. I grew up with my mother and am very thankful for that cause it instilled some “gentlemanly qualities” on me. Even when I’m addressing an 80+ year old woman in the restaurant I STILL refer to her as “Miss” why? because to call a woman “Ma’am” indicates age which is one thing women hate to realistically face. Plus they tend to tip better too! To all you ladies out there, no worries. A smart “gentleman” knows that EVERY woman in the world never ages a day past 29!

  236. I don’t appreciate being called ma’am either but it trumps being called ‘sirmadam’.

  237. xollod says:

    A British soldier friend who has met H.M. the Queen told me that one must only call her `Mam` ( `a` as in apple ) and not `Ma`am` ( as in Marm-alade ).
    Personally, I detest being called `Sir`, particularly in Liverpool, England where it will come at the end of every question or sentence, sounding as `Ser` .`Yes Ser, No Ser and would yer like them in three bags, Ser`?

  238. codyriver says:

    “Sir” sounds as bad to my ears as Ma’me to yours especailly from some 25 year old…its not respect its just that we look old to them. harder still is being “invisible” to anyone under 30

  239. chaitanya says:

    Hilarious! I feel your pain. The ‘I’m sexy and I know it’ positive affirmations go flying out the window when I hear a Ma’am too. It gets worse… where I come from, no matter how old or young you are, once you’re married, all the little kids call you ‘Aunty’.

  240. twrightlove says:

    I’m from South Carolina, and we would get in trouble if we did not use the word ma’am. I guess I can understand where you’re coming from. I’m only 23, and I’m probably one of the ones that would actually ruin your day. Lol, although, I realized since I’m over 18 I’ve started to plainly say Yes..which friends I’d say yeah. I go the extra mile for older people though. It’s weird with little kids say, “yes ma’am” but I am getting older…a cross you’ll have to bear 🙂 Have a great day, M’Lady

  241. Hilarious and so true! ‘Ma’am’ would age me at least 30 years as soon as someone utters the word! Horrible word, should not be allowed to exist! It allows for ageism to exist!

  242. Karen Wyld says:

    That horrible word has crept in to the Australian retail and hospitality industries over the last decade. And it make me mad whenever I hear it…..and I’m not even of a ‘certain age’ yet. Like staff in off-shore call centres, they are now taught to use this outdated terminology.
    I used to say ‘Last time I checked, I’m not the Queen, so cut it out.’ Now I give them the cold shoulder (and do it so well I see them visibly shudder).
    However, only last week I was thinking of having a badge made up – warning them not to utter that word in my presence – or else!

  243. Flippyman says:

    Good post Ma’am.

    Seriously, I think you’re making it a much bigger deal than what it is. It’s just a word and since words are arbitrary, you can change the meaning of the word to whatever you want. You can image it means “wow, beautiful and mature.” Or “woman who knows how to be good in bed.” You’re free to make it mean whatever pleases you.

    I live in Mexico, and because of the language, there is a difference for men as well. You’re first a “young man” and then a “mister.” However, it doesn’t happen from one day to another, but little by little. It’s usually children who start calling you by your older title. I guess because you seem much older to them. Yes, it’s disappointing at first to know you’re not young anymore, but nobody makes a big deal of it. Aging is a natural part of life and everybody tends to accept it sooner or later and just move one.

    Then again, I’ve been told by gringos who live here that we treat our old people with much more respect and love than in the USA. That might or might not be true and I can’t really say since it’s been over 2 decades that I’ve been to the US. In any case, that might be a part of it.

    Growing old is not that bad as you make it seem. It has a lot of advantages and one of them is learning that you can’t let what others say bother you. Your self-esteem and your value come from your own acceptance. You can’t let your day be ruined by a word that anyone can say, especially if they are using it just because that’s their idea of being polite.

  244. […] I was browsing through some recent posts on the Freshly Pressed page and came across this one: Don’t Call Me Ma’am. […]

  245. Great post! We could go all daylong having comments.How about no callings at all.Let us vote on a New Policy:no more callings from behind the counters, a simple”Thank you” and a huge smile to decorate it,period.The voting starts NOW!

    • mermaid says:

      I agree. A thanks, have a good day, miss, or mz makes me happy. NEVER liked the word ma’am-even as a child in the south. It is really over used, without sincerity.

  246. Ariel says:

    Best idea yet!! And while yer at it, save the honey, sweetie, toots, etc. for yer billy bob at the trailer park.

  247. guifonta says:

    I work as a hotel clerk as my Joe Job (that’s a job an actor holds to manage paying his mundaine bills) and it never occurred to me how awful it must sound to women to be called Ma’am even if with the best o intentions. I have now retired my oftn used ma’am. Thank you!

    • krisbrake says:

      Ah that’s nice to hear. I do realize that when people say it they’re being respectful and have never taken personal offense -just hate the word that’s all!

  248. masscom5blog says:

    It really sucks tp be raised to call females Ma’am as a term of respect and find out that it is so hated. I have always used the “M” word when addressing a female of any age. Sorry if I have ever called you Ma”am, I really meant it as a term of respect.
    Have a great day M”Lady

    • krisbrake says:

      Ahh! I appreciate your apology – really I’m not mad at any one person (I’m just joking about the barrista), I just hate the word. But I do think it’s a regional thing – not the same in the South that’s for sure.

  249. As an Australian, I was completely charmed when I moved to Texas and was called “ma’am” for the first time. I am middle aged, though!

  250. mickcgorman says:

    Not wishing to be rude… but I would call you Ma’am! It is nothing to do with age as I am clearly older than you, it is a polite non class/status salutation. It’s either Ma’am or cutie pie? 😀

  251. britishblu says:

    Ha! I loved the term “ma’am” for the first 5 minutes that I was in the States, due to the unususal politeness from visiting from the UK. Once i realised I could instead be called Miss, I was slightly miffed. Took all of my politeness ot to reply “Thank you, Boy” in my most (Put on) cutglass English accent. I’ve never felt so old – and that’s even having kids who tell it like it is!

  252. Scarlet says:

    I’ve never been called Ma’am but girly, girl or young lady really annoy me, I’m in my 20’s and haven’t dribbled for ages! I have a blogger friend that calls me M’lady and I call him M’lord I like that a lot 🙂

  253. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    • krisbrake says:

      I’d say that “Repulsive” seems a little harsh just for saying the word – but combine it with wearing one of those giant earring flesh tunnels and yes, I think so! 🙂

  254. WHAT IS… a giant earring flesh tunnel…? ‘Fraid I’m from a different generation! Ya know, anyone who had seen THE THREE MUSKETEERS movies MIGHT associate M’Lady with the tramp for hire who was beheaded in the end! 🙂

  255. Sheracj says:

    I am in full agreement. I hear Ma’am and I look for my mother. Tonight I had dinner with a friend at a nice Japanese Steakhouse restaurant. Another server came up and told us that the waitress was about to close up for the night and she could seat us at a different grill that was just about to start. I kindly thanked her to which she replied “You’re welcome Ma’am!” Is it evil of me that I looked at my friend and stated, “Oh look she called me Ma’am. Isn’t that just sweet!” hahahaha.

  256. sisteranan says:

    Every time i hear ‘ma’am’, i flinch because it sounds like ‘Maam’… as in mammary, the root word for so many female epithets… and i am so much more than just a breast walking around, really…

    • Laesentora says:

      I’ve thought the same exact thing! I never liked the shortened version of Madam, ma’am, because it sounds too much like mammary. It’s like someone said, “Have a nice day, b0*b!”. Seriously, I think that conversations are much more personable when addressed by someone looking me in the eyes and speaking to me without saying “ma’am” every 2 seconds. Leave the ma’ams and sirs out of the conversation!

  257. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  258. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  259. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  260. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  261. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  262. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  263. […] further to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on a dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her sip of humor, she writes about life in a Sandwich […]

  264. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  265. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  266. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  267. tall chris says:

    I have heard “young lady” several times in the last year by men around my age and I’m almost 63. Quite a shocker and a laugh. I figure they are half blind or just see my blond dyed over gray hair. I do look young for my age but that’s ridiculous!

    Methinks the author of this piece has never traveled to the South.

  268. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  269. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  270. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  271. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  272. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  273. […] addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich […]

  274. Lisa says:

    And customer service people always throw in the derisive tone to say hey, crazy lady.

  275. Here’s another 4-letter word, when directed to those of us who are no longer children: CUTE. I recently sent what I thought was a funny and clever email to a 20-something and she responded with, “Jude, you are
    the cutest!” Harumph! I beg your pardon? I am now in my Elderhood (not at all a bad ‘hood to be in, by the way), and have determined that the
    11th Commandment should be, “Thou shalt not use the word “cute” to describe thy Elder who is neither a puppy nor a child.”

  276. Chris says:

    I accept Ma’am and Sir in military life. There, it is appropriate and mandatory. But I’m a Californian so being called Ma’am, honey, and worse, sweetie, is a reference to my perceived age. A server in a restaurant called me sweetie today and I almost decked her. Instead I was polite.

    The reference to advanced age wouldn’t be so hurtful if it was just about age and did not carry with it so many assumptions and value judgements. In California,”old” is equivalent to bad, useless, feeble in body and mind, ready for the junk yard, helpless, etc. That’s what really pisses me off. I am not what I appear to be. I’m 65, a computer geek, a student pilot, I work full time, I work out with weights, I love machines, I graduated from a university in my 50s.

    My generation never accepted business as usual, stereotypes, and we questioned everything. We have our own way of doing “old” too.

  277. thronedancer888 says:

    I hear ya Chris! I’m similar age etc but think it is high time we stopped calling people names! or terms of endearment when we don’t even know them. The professional and best way in my opinion is just no say thank you, hello or whatever the greeting may be appropriate and leave off the excess offending gar-bage that is so unnecessary and often times insulting. I prefer not to be called anything personally. If they dont know me by name then that tells me something. One can be congenial and pleasant without the use of the junked out worn out terms.

  278. Doesn't matter says:

    The reason people are slowly becoming insensitive and discourteous in America is because of attitudes like this. Good luck to all of you. “Ma’am” has historically been reserved as a sign of respect you morons. If you didn’t learn respect growing up, deep shit awaits you and future generations. Try living abroad sometime to “educate” yourselves. Kindness and respect begets kindness. What do you think the other alternative begets?

  279. […] that makes it sound like a death sentence? It’s like when people use the word ma’am, do we have to be reduced to a generic word or label in some contexts? Do we not all have names […]

  280. liyacount says:

    Reblogged this on GoStepAway and commented:
    I understand that feeling. I mean, came one!! I’m just 19 and you have to call me Ma’am??!! I ever have that situation

  281. […] Don’t Call Me Ma’am) and my illustrious fellow blogger, Kristen Hansen Brakeman (Don’t Call Me Ma’am) — not even a ‘please’ there, it’s that serious. Check them out to appreciate […]

  282. TrueSeekerOfJustice says:

    Your ignorance, blatantly displayed at the end of your misguided rant, dovetails nicely with the main body of this . . . piece of work. “M’Lady” is NOT a combination of “Miss” and “Lady;” rather, it is a contraction of “My Lady.” Therefore, your comment that you like it because it is a combination of “Miss” and “Lady” is as far off-base as the feeling that you have regarding the word “ma’am.” If you have a problem with that term, then YOU have a problem with that term. Society is not wrong to use it. YOU are wrong to be offended by it. Words express intent, not the other way around. The true message is what was intended. If you CHOOSE to pervert the message, even though you know perfectly well how that message was intended, then you are the twisted soul that needs adjusting, not the speaker or the innocuous word that you psychotically twist into a meaning that fits your equally twisted psyche. This article is nothing more than a rant about your personal insecurity and how you want to spread that insecurity to others and have them “share” your psychosis in a vain attempt to make yourself feel better by finding kindred biter, small-minded souls.

    You, ma’am, should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Phoenix Rizing says:

      Well put! Unfortunately, this writer will probably never respond to you or “get it”. She seems to only engage with the people who verbally “High 5” and mirror her sentiments. But I totally agree with you.


      This ma’am and her 25 year old son totally agree with you!

  283. Lainy says:

    I get introuble with my mom for not saying yes ma’am,no ma’am,etc..

  284. mermaid says:

    The word is a time waster and NOT respectful anymore. Have heard it drawn out for 2 seconds = sarcasm or a filler word. The word sounds stupid and rude unless someone much younger uses it in a “sincere” tone.

  285. holyorganic says:

    Maybe, I’m the only one but I perfer to be called Ma’am. I’m 27 and am the exception to my generation. I personally think it is respectful and kind.

  286. […] bringing the plight of the Sandwich Generation to light.  Reviewers especially liked her essays “Don’t Call Me Ma’am,” “Chopper – Our New One-Eyed Mutt,” and “My Husband Got Prostate Cancer and All I Got […]

  287. […] bringing the plight of the Sandwich Generation to light.  Reviewers especially liked her essays “Don’t Call Me Ma’am,” “Chopper – Our New One-Eyed Mutt,” and “My Husband Got Prostate Cancer and All I Got […]

  288. Dove says:

    Well my hot Latino lover called me M’am and it was not a good sound. When he said it he sounded sad as well. Okay I am much older and I guess he realizes it now. Sometimes I look young, sometimes I don’t. Ha!

  289. Katie DeFea says:

    Wow, I love your article…it’s like it you were speaking my mind. I feel exactly, exactly the same way, word for word, with everything you said! And I am tired of people saying, “get over it -it’s a term of respect.” I have a doctorate, a career, success, wonderful children, all sorts of accomplishments that deserve respect. So, call me doctor to acknowledge my academic accomplishments, but don’t call me Ma’am to acknowledge that I’ve managed to live through 1/2 of a century! That’s my two cents.

    • katie says:


    • Kalispell says:

      “Mrs” means “Missus” which means Married Woman!

      “Miss” just means Miss which means Unmarried Woman.
      Miss has also, due to being a the title for an unmarried woman, come to be the honorific for ‘younger’ women.

      “Ms”, pronounced Mizz, is the proper title for a woman whom you don’t know if married or unmarried. It’s also the title that is equal to the man’s “Mr” meaning “Mister”.

      Women Men
      Mrs = Married Mr = Always
      Miss = Unmarried
      Ms = marital status not noted

      Women Men
      Miss = Young Woman Sir = Always
      Ma’am = Older Woman

      Women just want their titles to be as CONSTANT and unchanging as men’s are. It’s not only a whole lot easier, it’s less sexist and ageist.

  290. primetime says:

    My generation taught their kids to call me by my first name, which I was stunned about to begin with. As a result, their children have disrespected me because, from their viewpoint I am still just another “kid” on the block. Note: I’m a veteran, educated, a homeowner, semi-retired now and divorced. I refer to strangers/acquaintances I meet as Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Ma’am and Sir with the correct pronouns as needed. I expect to be called the same but even those with degrees will not (Ex: Dr. XX should call me Mrs. YYY). I have to come to realize that this is a power play in the civilian world. Unless I’m your friend or family, please don’t call me by my Christian name. Women, tell the world how you want to be referred. You don’t pay businessmen and women to call you by your Christian name. Would you call the President “Barack” to his face? Would you call Bill Gates “Bill”, or the Queen of England “Liz”? No? Then why would you then allow a paid lawyer or doctor a serviceperson to do the same to you?
    A young teacher would not allow her students to call her Suzy, and I would not allow her future children to call me by my Christian name either.Titles are used by the well-mannered and it does indicate the respect and acknowledgement of those who have earned it. This doesn’t mean being stuck-up, it means being consistent and having manners. If you think it doesn’t matter, tell people your title (Mrs. XX, or whatever is appropriate) and see that how goes. People will ignore you because it is a demand for respect. Unless you want to be someday be old and forgotten and talked to as if you are an ignorant child, I suggest all women begin this today. Note: When this was demanded of me when I was young, I thought it strange. Now I want to thank you all of the adults of my youth and the military for emphasizing manners. Women: If we all demand the respect we deserve, society as a whole will eventually treat us better as well.

  291. primetime says:

    I would also like to add that if you don’t correct people about your name and title.
    they will start disrespecting you by calling you “Young Lady” which has the same
    negative connotations as “Junior” or “Boy.” Don’t engage in this behavior and don’t
    accept it either. Yes, and “Mrs.” or Ma’am is just fine, thanks!

  292. me says:

    Here in my country, they call everyone ma’am. They speak dutch here, so its another word but means the same. ‘miss’ is something that seems to be starting to get erased out of our language. I read an article in the paper the other day, that ‘miss’ is something that is denigrating. Im 27 now but I always get mistaken for being younger (19 or 20), some people call me miss or ‘that girl’ lol, I get hit on my 20 year old guys, and some people call me ma’am. It is odd when they do because it does make me feel old. When they say it,

    Also at university, every student is called ma’am and sir. I find it very odd to hear :p

  293. Jora says:

    What if the person calling you “ma’am” is no more than ten years younger than you? A woman whose son is on the same team as my son called me “Ma’am” last week, and she made sure to draw the word out with emphasis. Seriously? And she keeps on doing it. That was the first time I’ve ever been insulted by what is supposed to be a term of respect. I think I’ll tell her to eat a hot steaming heap of crap or I’ll just call her “Ma’am” in return.

    • I think at that point fisticuffs are in order. 🙂 Calming thoughts, calming thoughts.

    • ellethemagnanimous says:

      The problem is there are two different ways to address women and they are both age-based, while there is only one way to address men of any age. Why is that? Why does age come into it for women and not men? This is a sexist double standard. IMHO, do away with the term Miss and call every woman of any age ma’am. Simple. Anyway, isn’t Miss the opposite of Mr.? If not, it should be. Mr/Sir and Miss/Ma’am. Excuse me, Miss Smith. Would you like some cream with your coffee, ma’am? Makes more sense than dividing women by age and calling the young ones Miss and the older ones Ma’am.

  294. Jon says:

    Preliminary: I am a southern raised man, 24 years of age. I understand the fact that ladies will be distinguished as ma’am at some point, and in part we do make that judgment, but it literally was entrenched in our personality by our parents.

    1. M’Lady isn’t a contraction between miss and lady, it’s a contraction of “my lady”. Learn that first and then speak of it. Using m’lady instead of ma’am may be an easy fix in your eyes, but your asking a whole dialect to forget about their lexicon history. I moved out of the south at a young age, and people would chastise me for saying “y’all” and “naked” with an inflection of “eh” instead of “ay”. We can’t give up those words so easily; it can be done, as in the case of myself, but to this day I recognize ma’am as the most respectful salutation to almost all ladies in which I’m helping. “Miss” never came into daily use.

    2. I understand that most woman are incredibly fickle about someone pointing out their age, and in some regard we are, by labeling you ma’am. We are indeed saying that you are in a certain age range, but at some point your going to have to get used to getting older and stop pointing out EVERY small thing that happened to you throughout the day. When someone says “Don’t call me ma’am” I am saddened. From how a lot of southerners are raised it is important that we respect not just everybody, but our parents and grandparents. I feel like you signed up for the ma’am card when you became a mother. I respect all mothers to an insane degree, that is why I use ma’am with them. I guess you want a salutation on how young you are every time someone serves you.

    Anyways, from someone who has dealt with people like you, I feel that it is more disrespectful that YOU want to change a whole word to make YOU feel better about your intelligence (in regards to the “not knowing how to use the pen on the iPad” deal), your age, and your looks. Honestly, get over yourself.

    • Kind Sir,
      I’m well aware that M’Lady is not a contraction of Miss and Lady. I said it “is like” a mixture of the two – as in, it sounds like a mixture of the two. I am also aware of the language differences between those raised in the South versus the rest of us. That’s why I mentioned it. Please feel free to continue on using the term when you are there, but know that it is not a welcome one out here in the West.
      I’m not sure what you are talking about with the IPad and the pen – I did not refer to an Ipad or a pen. Did I? Well, if I did then I guess you are correct and I’m simply senile.
      Good day Sir.
      I bid you anon.

      • Jack Handy says:

        “know that it is not a welcome one out here in the West”

        “those raised in the South versus the rest of us.”

        Says the entitled generalist. I guess everyone not raised in the South are all part of the same “rest of us”?

        To the both of you, please use “tablet”. iPad offends us up here in the North.

    • ellethemagnanimous says:

      How would you enjoy being called Old Sir, while a younger guy is just called Sir or young Sir. Kind of stupid, isn’t it? Why are we addressing women according to their “age” anyway. Why does just age deserve respect. Doesn’t everyone deserve common respect?

  295. Heather says:

    I’m from the pacific northwest, and today I got to thinking-I cant remember a time I was ever called ‘miss’. I suppose as a teenager I was called, ‘young lady,’ but at 24 I’m apparently a ma’am. It crossed my mind when a check out person called me over (“excuse me, ma’am,”) and I thought, ‘just how old do I look?’ And then rendered it meaningless when he asked for my ID to buy wine.

  296. Tee says:

    I don’t understand why people only associate the word with age. I’m from Georgia and I call people my own age (24) maam/sir, especially strangers b/c I do not know their name. If I were to see a man/woman drop their wallet, I would not call out, “Hey lady/guy!” (which I find to be rude) but “Excuse me, sir/maam but you dropped this!” Simply b/c I don’t know their name. A friend of mine is living in CA right now b.c her husband is stationed there (he is a Marine). She’s from GA as well, and just got screamed at for saying maam to a woman. I get it that Northerners/West Coasters don’t like it, but really? Is it such a big deal you have to freak out and cause a scene? To me, that is worse than someone saying maam or sir. I sure don’t get my panties in a was when a Northerner/West Coaster visits GA and does not address me by maam. Now, I understand that not every Northerner/West Coaster behaves like this, so I’m not lumping all of them into one group. This was just a story that my friend related to me.

    • No one should get screamed at for it, of course. That’s why I vented on paper instead! It’s a cultural thing. The word is associated with age in the West. I’m sure you’ve heard the term your whole life and it was not age-related but here it is. Simple as that.

      • Kalispell says:

        The term is associated with age and class everywhere but the South. You’ll hardly ever hear Ma’am on the East Coast, or in bigger cities like Chicago or LA. For me the word Ma’am not only has clear age connotation, it has huge social class inferences too. Ma’am and Sir are the words used by the poor and the working classes to show “respect” for their ‘higher-ups’. Slaves were forced to use Ma’am and Sir by fear of being beaten or worse. These are words that were used to enforce and maintain social boundaries. And for that reason as well, they are becoming more and more obsolete.

  297. Chris Rose says:

    If I lived in the South, I wouldn’t mind being called Ma’am. But I’m a Californian and I agree with the other Californian. Here, Ma’am is intended as a indication that a woman is old. That wouldn’t be so bad if “old” were not equated with slow, useless, ready for the landfill. A female bus driver called me ‘Hon’. I used considerable restraint in not answering. But I was thinking, “I’ll show you “Hun”. Attila that is!”

  298. shiron says:

    I love the M’Lady. In addition, I was not raised to express “yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir” as a child but still was just as respectful (if not more) than that of my childhood peers. This is why I don’t require this of my children. And with pleases, thank yous, and the like, they are just as respectful to me and my husband as they are to other adults. Very well behaved without all of that. 🙂

  299. M’lady? lame! let’s give what we get. I’ll take Ma’ am, if I can throw back something that’s politically correct and a shocking & a wake-up call!

    And could every outraged woman in this list lobby for NO labels (titles) at all? Why isn’t the clerk checking your card, then calling you by your first name? Who calls anybody by their presumed title? Mrs. Ms. Ma’ am Dr. Mr. really? And if your gender-identity doesn’t match your title, ga. Not me, but hey – that must suck.

    do these are sentiments only exist west of the 100th meridien? Let’s get on it!

  300. HelenMarie says:

    I grew up in the South but moved to New England and mostly Maine 40 years ago. My husband and I bought a 2nd home in SC but I got so fed up with being called Ma’am and I swear on a bible that in 3 years I could NOT get one person who raised in the South to call me by my first name. I even got ma’ammed by a 40 something year old in an AA meeting (before the meeting started). I asked this woman “Why are you ma’amming me?” and of course I got the stock response “that was the way I was raised”. I hated not being able to be peer with people that were raised in the South when I was older than they were. Gosh in Maine everybody uses my first name and certainly if I ask someone to call me “Helen” they will….but not so in SC…no, no, no, no….they learned their “manners” at 3 to 5 years old and they can no more guage the appropriateness of those manners / forms of address now that they are 40 years old or even 50 years old. I felt like I was surrounded by 5 year old robots mouthing forms of address that were beaten into them at 3 years….I didn’t feel any respect AT ALL being called Ma’am. I felt invisible–my age was the only thing they saw and any personal request of mine to “Call me Helen” or “Please don’t call me Miss Helen” or “Please don’t call me Ma’am” went in one ear and out the other . In Maine I am not reminded 20 times a day of my age whereas in SC I get called ma’am 20 times a day…frankly I’d rather not get singled out for extra respect due to my age—lol !!!! Reading this blog I really feel for the poor 20 and 30 somethings that are already being ma’ammed!

    • degreeholdingsocialscientist says:

      The thing is, our culture does not truly respect those who are over 40. Especially women. Calling females ma’am once they appear to be no longer young seems much more to do with pity, as in “Oh, you’re old and slow no longer sexually viable and I am sad for you. As a consolation, please accept this false respect I am giving you in the form of an honorific that will remind you of your proper place in the social hierarchy.”

      Outside of the south, Ma’am is a form of social distancing. In other words, younger adults are using it to affirm their youth by pointing out that you are older than they are and therefore they can feel that growing older and eventually dying is much further into the future for them and this is comforting. They don’t want to be your peer, because to accept that would mean accepting their eventual mortality.

  301. Yes ma'am says:

    This is ridiculous. Ma’am is the female equivalent of sir. It is THE polite term for any female adult. ‘Miss’ refers to an unmarried woman.

    • What is the male equivalent to “Miss” – for an unmarried man?

      • Sir says:

        There is none – so what? Ma’am can be used for a woman of any age. It is the equivalent of sir. You and a lot of other american ladies are asigning a connotation of age to a word where none exists. You have no right to be offended by the use of the word so get as angry as you like but do not tell people they are rude when they are in fact being as polite as possible.

      • The point – and perhaps you didn’t read the post – is that for men there is no designation in titles for age. That was the main point of my piece.
        The use of Ma’am is a regional thing. In the South, yes, Ma’am is used for any age. In California that is simply not the case.
        Good day Sir.

      • “Master” is the honorific.

  302. Lauren says:

    Helen Marie, I SOOOooo agree with you!! I almost deleted this overly tired blog but am glad I read your comment! We could be sisters in disgust/abuse with this! I also moved away in my early 20’s from SC, graduated from college elsewhere, now 65, retired professional and moved back (for practical reasons only)..I can not even count the number of times I have been insulted, offended, etc by being addressed as “Honey” “Sweetheart” “Maam”…here in Summerville, SC. I utterly detest it, find it unnecessary, insulting and a red flag that the insulter is probably red neck south, low class, riff raff type. I also have been given the excuses of “I can’t help it I was brought up that way”! uhhh…I said well that is terrible! I even told this one person it sounded very unprofessional and offended me and that I prefer not to be called anything, just hello or nothing would be fine. It went right over the ignoramus head. Next time this person in same store did it again so I had to ask her to take notice of when I come in the store and if it happens again I will go to the manager about it. That extreme measure finally stopped it. These people need to be educated but I’m afraid that will never happen. I have traveled many places and the U.S. South is the ONLY place this is ever heard. Primo example of the brainwashing and ignorance that perpetuates itself here.

  303. Sentosa Girl says:

    Once I was in a toilet. Two young students simply called me “auntie”. Im wearing jeans and t-shirt like any topical ladies out there. And I don’t dress like an auntie. I told them off. I told them “Don’t anyhow go outside and anyhow call strangers “auntie”. U can call your neighbours auntie or uncle as they permits you to call them that.”

  304. dana says:

    Unless I am obviously in my 80’s do not call me ma’am. The Southerners THINK it’s a term for respect, but if so many ladies hate it, when is it respecful to call someone something that they don’t want to be called? Isn’t that considered rude? I don’t understand their persistence that we “lie down and take it because we’re just being polite”. There are many other polite ways to go about your business without name calling!! Just because it’s used in the South does NOT make it right! You won’t find me rushing out to buy a Confederate flag even though many people in the South have one. Quit being good little sheeples and think for yourself, not because someone told you it’s proper. Manners are polite, unnecessary sexist, ageist titles are not.

  305. Angel says:

    I’m 23 and I get called ma’am all the time! It makes me so mad.

  306. […] some friends, I got plenty of negative reactions to the word (including this gif). The internet is full of articles by and about women who hate the phrase. One of my favorite singers even brought it up […]

  307. sir says:

    Here’s the problem as you so eloquently described in this message. The word is out of respect most of the time but you noticed men weren’t looking at you anymore so you have lost the power of your youth and the next crop are taking over. ( younger women)

    Men don’t care to be called sir as we have other things to fill our soul. Not the attention that made you feel good about yourself. Obviously that must hurt to the core to have your whole self esteem destroyed by one word to remind you of your true age.

    Get a hold of your self ma am

    • Sara Smith says:

      You don’t have to be hurt by the same things as others, but that doesn’t mean it is necessary to disregard what hurts others. Even if you are a more advanced human to not be hurt by these things, (and maybe us lower levels will grow to your level one day) – maybe try to just have kindness to stoop down a little and not hurt us lower levels. Even if you deem us simple or ridiculous.

    • Lisa says:

      Men do care when they too grow old and the new “crop” pays them no attention and finds them nothing but creepy old men……….

  308. Thank God I’m not the only person that this treatment sends into a homicidal rage – I thought I was going insane! From now on I’m going to just tell people flat-out when they do it how much I dislike it. Hopefully this sexist behaviour will stop in the foreseeable future.

  309. Stodgy Old Coot says:

    The rule:
    Unknown Female, No wedding ring: Miss
    Known Female, No wedding ring: Miss
    Known Female, No wedding ring, familiar: Miss
    Known Female, No wedding ring, friend: Miss
    My Girlfriend:
    Unknown Female, wedding ring: Ma’am
    Known Female, wedding ring: Ma’am and/or Misses
    Known Female, wedding ring, familar: Ma’am and/or Misses

    My Wife:
    When in doubt: Miss
    To get her to stop flirting with you: Ma’am

  310. gsimmons23 says:

    I enjoy this post and I completely agree with the establishment of a new term like M’Lady that covers everyone, regardless of age or marital status. However, maybe because I myself am young, I don’t fully understand how the term ma’am is so offensive. I’m a waitress and regardless of how old I believe a female customer is, as long as I think they’re older than me, I call them ma’am. I see it as a sign of respect, not as a derogatory term. If I didn’t use ma’am and didn’t know her name, I don’t know how I would refer to female customers. I apologize if this is offensive to some people, but I honestly don’t see the problem. Even when I go to restaurants or coffee shops, when people call me ma’am, mind you I’m 20, I see it as a sign of respect, not that the person thinks I’m old. In the end, it’s a gray area. Someday, when I’m married, or not as young, I think I’ll be more offended if someone calls me “Miss” than if they call me ma’am.

    • says:

      I think the problem you –and others claiming to be at a loss as to what to call a woman who you do not know –have is that you fail to see there is no need to call us anything. If you are a waitress and you have a female customer you are presumably interacting one on one and do not need to get her attention. You are at her table right? So you cheerfully say hello, and politely ask to take her order while making eye contact such that she knows you are addressing her. When you talk to a friend do you say their name every time? When I encounter a friend I often just say “hi” and follow it with conversation. I more often use someone’s name to get their attention. But ma’am doesn’t really work in that instance since -if you don’t have the unfamiliar woman’s attention-ma’am only narrows it down to her and any other women…”excuse me” is just as effective. And find me 10 women between 30 and 60 that feel respected when you say ma’am to them… Bet you can’t.

      • Angie says:

        Yeah, exactly. I worked in hospitality in my younger years (catering) and was told by my boss to call women either miss or ma’am… But got so many seething/horrified looks when using ma’am that I used to omit it. In the end I only used the term if my boss was watching me. Now that I’m in my thirties I totally understand how those women felt.

        Also I find it disrespectful for men and younger women to come on here and tell us how we should feel about it – men only get one form of address, and no one judges them constantly on how old they look. Society isn’t geared towards rewarding or punishing them purely on their appearance. And younger women are still in the lovely ‘young fertile miss bubble’. So why do they think they’re qualified to tell us how we *should* feel?

        Hopefully one day they’ll cop a taste of what we’ve been getting and then maybe they’ll understand.

    • I’ve been married 25 years – still makes me happy when they call me “Miss,” but not as happy as when someone asks for my ID to buy a bottle of wine!

  311. HelenMarie says:

    Lauen in Summerville SC I’d like to meet you but I sold my house in Beaufort SC and am moving to Florida where happily fewer people there were raised in the South. In Maine and in New England waitresses don’t call women –young or old anything….they just say “What can I get for you?” or ” What would you like to eat?” of “Have you decided on something?”….that’s it…nothing more. And I certainly agree with the previous comment that I have no interest at all in what a 20 year old or 30 year old woman or a man–guy or straight has to say about how I “should ” feel about being called “ma’am”. I get a kick out of men in South Carolina telling me that they use ma’am for all women and not just older women….and I always say have you bothered to ask those young women what they think about being ma’amed by you? Of course the men always say NO, they had never thought to ask a 20 year old how she liked being called ma’am….isn’t it really so patriarchal that so many men could be so oblivious to how their “manners” are received.
    To me it’s like Eric Bern’s book “The Games People Play”…..I get to be cast as the old woman needing to be shown “respect” while they get to play “a good and clever little boy showing his well learned manners”…but if I want to
    play a different game like: “Let’s you and I be peers with each other”…NO WAY Jose’ you have to be the old women requiring respect so I can be the little boy showing off his “good manners”….I had to leave South Carolina..what I wanted to be called didn’t matter a damn to them and I agree with a previous poster: “Where’s the respect in calling people things they don’t want to be called?” There’s no respect there…just a bunch of robotic regurgitations of 30 year old, 40 year old, sometimes 50 year old manners lessons learned at 5 years old.

    • jomama says:

      Give me a break. Most men including myself Adress women as ma am out of respect not masogony. Have any of you feminist ever taken a look at yourself why it bothers you so much to take the time and energy to do this. Are we not to be at peace with ourselves. Get over yourself. Ma am addresses you by your married state not by age. Regardless. I bet you all hate lulu wear too

      • Angie says:

        And yet here we are saying we don’t like it, please stop doing it. So, once again … We really don’t like it, could you please stop doing it? Or to put it another way, would you please stop doing it, because we really don’t like it?

        Isn’t it sexist to continue doing something women don’t like even when they tell you they don’t like it?

      • jomama says:

        Actually that would make be stupid. Don’t do something that the English language clearly dictates as not sexist or age related just because you are a woman makes you sexist. If it’s wrong. Man or woman asked, I will of course admit fault and alter my behavior.

    • says:

      Well said, m’Lady!

      • digitalrepinfo says:

        By that logic it’s ok to call black people N^%&$^** because you’re doing it out of respect, even though they don’t want you to do it and they HATE IT and they see it as incredibly disrespectful. But because of your precious intentions it’s absolutely ok for you to do it.

        You just don’t understand what sexism is, do ya? Your white male brain will just never get it.

        **note: edited by Blog owner

    • Kay says:

      Helen Marie

      This is brilliant. I love everything you said. You really get this and express the issue well. It’s such a shame that soooo many people aren’t thoughtful enough or educated enough to understand the cultural underpinnings of the use of this word.

  312. dismarum says:

    Not gonna lie…I am a 30 year old woman from Texas who just stumbled upon this article due to having my ass reamed out lately for saying “thank you, ma’am” to a woman who was in her 20s. I adjusted during my trip up north, but it was touch and go there for a while, and I had to find myself continually apologizing for using it.

    I think it’s a little disparaging of some people to scoff at what southerners consider polite by referring to our “manners” in quotation marks. We honestly ARE using manners, and we do not consider it infantile to continue using the term “ma’am” past the age of 5. It’s just a regional difference as to what is considered polite and appropriate. People seem to be automatically assuming that we give no thought to this and are just refusing to progress past our childhood with our methods of phrasing or something. =P I find that a little patronizing. I mean c’mon.

    That being said, I will say that adjusting your methods of interaction to what is considered polite in that particular region would be the best for all parties involved, and I have made it my mission to be more aware of my “ma’aming” outside of the South. It’s about appropriating cultural norms and being culturally sensitive.

    And as to someone who asked how young southern women feel about being “ma’amed,” we appreciate it. It’s a sign of respect regardless of age. As mentioned, I’m 30 now, but in my late teens and 20s, being called “ma’am” by anyone of any age was just a gesture of politeness and consideration.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. It’s helped me navigate what were some murky cultural waters there for a second.

  313. akshayinbox says:

    I feel you but why overreact to this?
    I’m a guy so maybe I won’t understand but in any case, it depends on your perception. I am 20. Have been called “Sir” now and even when I was younger. I only feel a bit overly (unnecessarily) respected – but it’s always better of a feeling than being under respected – as some minimum wage unhappy fast food workers food, you know what I’m talking about.

    Yes, now my one Greek teacher did make jokingly respond to a kid who referred to him as “Sir” – come on man, I’m only in my 30s.

    But, when said by a stranger esp. at a coffee shop, I’d rather be British and prefer “Thank you, sir.” instead of “Thanks” or… a dumb “couldn’t care less” look. I refer to women as “miss” sometimes out of respect but seldom as “ma’am”. “Ma’am” is a bit excessive, superflous esp. for young women (of my age) – I agree.

    So I think we all (you all, since I don’t get called “ma’am” or “miss”) need to chill 😉 🙂

    But then, you are entitled to your opinion of course just as I’m entitled to mine.

  314. Hey! I hope you don’t mind my tweet. Haha. I hope you understand my use of foul language, and I was yelling at a representative dickhead. 😉

    I actually pretty much am a miss, and am still trying to start up a pop music career (been teaching myself production-style composing, doing it “right” / taking time, in agony) as a woman who’s definitely long past seventeen. It’s given me a giant parti-life crisis. Meanwhile I had to hack off damaged, depression-induced matted hair. It’s so not me. And I’ve had astigmatism since I was a kid, so that’s glasses with my slowly growing back hair.

    I imagine anything on my face is a wrinkle or jowel. I’ve had those forehead lines since I was a teen, somehow, and they just started bugging me. I’ve often skipped sleep – I still can! – but now tired eyes look like death face, to me, on me. I have acne scars and only rid myself of acne after quitting dairy, not “aging” or drying up my skin/scalp, and of course it’s less youthful although prettier. Now the scars near my mouth look like dimples mixed with massive “I need Juvaderm” wrinkles and lines but I think, hope, that’s just me. Dammit, commercials!

    Sigh, this is mostly caused by our messed up world. I cannot fathom why, in our youth-obsessed culture, it’s polite to use a term like ma’am.

    When I shop, I get it thrown at me. Luckily, shopping is a great drug for rage (and many things), otherwise I’d probably have the cops called on me whenever it happens. I’m from MA. (And oh yeah, some of us are pretty ragey up here, but still, the word’s common.)

    Thanks for letting me vent!!! Whewww…. (Rough week or two.) I really cannot wait until I’m ready to put out the complete sounds to go with my lyrics that will vent to, hopefully, more … about things like this and beyond. Soon, I’ll START releasing, at least. 🙂 I have faith that time gives speed without compromising quality.

    … And that when I have a proper bob style haircut that I’ll go easier on my own appearance. … Trolls I’ve been prepared for, it stinks being one’s own bad critic, twisting “harmless” things into self-trolley piles of dung.

    … But yeah, people should stop using the word. It couldn’t hurt! (And everyone, share this blog post by Kristen!)

    • Jake Eagleshield says:

      I have never read anything so shallow. There is never a good excuse to use profanity in public,male or female. And DO NOT CALL ME DUDE,BRO,OR YO! If you don know me it is Sir,or Mr. And you do not use my first name without my permission. It’s called MANNERS

      • WHAT?

        I just noticed this reply.

        I wasn’t typing to you at all, I believe.

        It is not I who/that is shallow, it is society. All the shallow references I made were in reactions to society (and my chosen career path mixed with my sex). Re-read. Or not, lol.

        Swearing? I was referencing the article. Also, eh, your opinion clearly is far, far from mine and I’m sure neither will budge, so that’s that there.

        Do people call you “yo?” I’m not sure why you brought that up. I don’t think I was mentioning you if I discussed calling people dude. TL;DR, my own 6-month-old thing, lol.

        “And you do not use my first name without my permission. It’s called MANNERS”
        WHAT? I’ve never heard that opinion before. Personally, it’s the last-name, gym-class, patriarchal stuff I don’t like. Anyway, I don’t think that’s called manners because it sounds rude TO ME to not just use my first name if you know it, but we’re clearly very different. I don’t know where you’re from but that probably has to do with it. I would also feel really weird calling someone “sir” in most situations but we’re clearly alien to each other.

  315. A says:

    I recently gained weight and the ma’ams were coming at me left and right ugh – its horrible. the south can have that term of endearment, in the north its about being older. I was in a restaurant and the waiter looked at my arm fat and then quivered and said uh uh maam would you like something to drink….ugh

    • Jake Eagleshield says:

      Sorry about that. No excuse for rudeness. As for ” ma’am’,forgive me but it IS just a sign of respect and common courtesy,something sorely lacking in our society today. You really should not take it so personally. It has nothing to do with age. Back in the day,women were addressed that way,when someone did not know their marital status, or because their parents taught them that way. By the way, It is not just a South thing. I am from Upstate New York. It may be generational in large part. Please do not take offense when someone is just trying to be courteous.

      • Marital status is now basically moot in non-romantic or gov-benefits situations, hallelujah!

        Women were liberated long ago. We work now! We matter beyond marital status. Yahoooooo!!!

        Yes, these things are entirely related.

      • Also, the miss said it started after an appearance change. Feelings matter as well, and this issue now relates to hurt feelings. Perhaps reflect on that and rudeness. Yes, it is tough. I’m not saying you’re rude but now there is no clear option. Interesting to think about.

    • Kay says:


      I’ve noticed this too…if I’m wearing no make up and I have on baggy jeans and an old T-shirt, I get called “Ma’am”. Three hours later, showered and nicely dressed, hair done, some eyeliner and cleavage out, I NEVER hear a Ma’am. Ever.

  316. Jake Eagleshield says:

    to digitalrepinfo; a racial slur is not the same at all Bad comparison.

    • digitalrepinfo says:

      I just can’t believe you’ve seen so many women on here express how much they hate being called it and yet you still think you have a right to use it… People have a right to decide what they want and don’t want to be called. It’s that simple.

  317. Happy Panda says:

    Sir and Ma’am are just forms of respect. They are commenting about your age. Get over it. I use sir or ma’am when addressing my preschoolers. Miss is rarely used and reserved more for teenagers. When I use those terms in business, I do not know or care if they are married, single, or whatnot…It is simply a sign of respect. Please take it as such.

    • There’s no other form of sir, because of patriarchy. And now we have the mess of confusing it with age instead of (ughck) a sign of an “honest, loved” woman. Oy, that’s … better? Well, I know no one is still dissing “old maids” as much as yesteryear but don’t forget the roots of this nasty, patriarchal word/name system. All gross to me now.

  318. Afshin Nejat says:

    Wham, Bam, thank you M’Lady.

  319. Tracy U. says:

    I realize this is an older thread. But the subject matter came up in a discussion so I decided to look into it. I’m a female, in my twenties and have called everyone ma’am, young, middle, and old. Never mattered if you were 15 or 96. Married or unmarried. I personally prefer ma’am over miss. It has a southern charm to it. “Charm” in this country seems to be severely lacking. It’s an abbreviation for “madam”. It’s a term of “term of respectful or polite address used for a woman.” It Britain, it’s used to address female royalty. It takes me back to olden times, of simple time. Times that I never truly experienced but admire from afar. I don’t mean to offend as everyone is different however, most of the woman I have known to become upset over my use of the term is generally women who have are, in their own mind, in the “ma’am age”– I say it that was as they only THINK of that term as applying to women of an older age. Women who are not comfortable with their age. As far as I am concerned, no (wo)man is old until (s)he thinks old. My grandmother is in her late 70′– and she will dance her sweet heart out, runs around chasing and being chased and playing hide and seek with toddlers, she’ll sled the steepest, iciest hill and go snow tubing in the Pocono’s, she goes to costume parties, berry picking and zip-lining. Her age is the only thing that’s “old”, her heart and soul are truly “forever young”– but I would refer to her as a “ma’am” just as quick as I would a 16 year old girl. To me, if you let simple words that are terms of respectful, offend you and ruin you’re day– it comes off as someone who is old at heart, who is afraid of aging, who is incredibly self conscious. It is not sexist to call someone “ma’am” as it does not assume someone is married…that would be Mrs. And madam doesn’t mean you’re the owner of a brothel. Look both terms up in the dictionary. It’s ridiculous that when someone who does not know you, does not know you’re name, may never see you again, but simply calls you “ma’am” as a way to get your attention should be chewed out because they were raised believing that is “respectful”. Honestly, by chewing someone out or correcting them– that is disrespectful. And THAT makes you seem “old”. I just don’t get it, when did ma’am become a term solely for the elderly?

    • Kay says:

      Yes, more women speak up than you think. And we don’t always have the energy to do it. But when we do, and the time is right, it’s a good idea.

      And also realize, there is no large company that instructs their employees to address women this way. I’ve looked into this online and in person. It’s considered old outdated language. It is the individual employees who do it out of their own habits.

      Story: One time a guy at a store blamed the “Ma’amming” me on his manager, claiming he was trained to use the M word. Knowing better, I said, “I don’t think so. Companies don’t teach that these days.” Then he admitted the lie, “OK! You’re right! They didn’t. But I just SAY it. It just comes out.”

    • Kay says:

      Tracy I think you’re confused about some facts.

      First of all, women are addressed as “Miss” until about their late 30’s, then we start to be called “Ma’am”. Men are always addressed as “Sir”, their whole life no matter how old they are. THAT is why people bring in the claim of sexism.

      For instance, I was at a business breakfast this week with three other women. I was the youngest at 48, the others were in their 60’s. The waiter addressed me as “Miss”, and the other three as “Madam” the whole time. I thought this was horribly rude and made me feel really bad for the other women. Point is, if women were ALWAYS called Ma’am, our whole lives, then we would not see ourselves being called Something Else when we get older. We should all be addressed as the same thing, at all ages, just as men are.

      There are more things about the use of Ma’am you will learn in time. But in the meantime, if you know it ruffles feathers, if you know the meaning has changed in the six hundred or so years since its inception why keep using it? If you know you are more likely to bother someone by calling them by an outdated honorific, why keep doing it? You’re just as capable of being kind and polite without using that word. As smile and honest kindness go a very long way.

  320. Eagle says:

    I really can’t imagine why a Lady would be insulted to be called Ma’am. It has been traditionally a term of respect. It’s used in the Military today to address female commissioned officers the same as Sir is used for male officers. Why is this any problem as long as the term is used in a respectful tone and not in a sarcastic or demeaning one? The same with terms like “Honey”, My Favorite waitress’s call me Honey and I love it. It’s all about the way people use the terms, one can put a negative spin on any words. IMHO people are getting just a little too sensitive and too quick to go off on people. You all have to lighten up…Lol…


    • Hey! Who you calling Lady?
      I agree it’s considered a term of respect and would be just that if “miss” didn’t exist. Where I live it is used to distinguish between old and young, something that doesn’t happen with sir. Thanks for the comment.

      • It Works! says:

        M’Lady! I love it!! That definitely works! I am 31 but am still ID’d quite often… so the people who call me Ma’am, i literally want to kill lol. I’ll take: Miss, Mizz, M’lady, or even Madam! But Ma’am?? Come on. This word needs to be obliterated.

  321. skippytexas says:

    M’Lady suits me just fine. When I get a Ma’am, I look down to see if I still have on my apron I don’t own, and my bonnet I drowned.

  322. James says:

    Not so on the “sir” comments. Young men get called “man”, “guy”, and “buddy” (the worst) all the time…especially by older men. Unless I was dressed very well I rarely got called sir until my 30s. It baffles me that women get so pissed over “ma’am” which is intended as a sign of respect but offer no alternative. If “miss”, “lady” or “madam” aren’t permissible then what am I supposed to say “hey you”? Please ladies, if you are pissed that’s fine but don’t back us into a corner where there is a no win situation. Just tell us what to call you!

    • Miss is fine with me. Did someone have a problem with Miss?
      And really, someone says “Guy” or “Man” when they are getting your attention to hand you a coffee?

    • Kay says:

      Ok James, here’s the solution. Don’t call us anything. You don’t have to. “How can I help you today?” is a thousand times more agreeable than “How can I help you today, Ma’am?”

      “Here is your order,” said with a smile is perhaps two thousand times better than, “Here is your order, Ma’am.”

      After spending time in New Zealand, I learned that this English-speaking country calls Ma’am and Sir “add-ons”. And these people agree that “add ons” are simply not necessary. They also have a saying, “If you call a woman Ma’am, all you’re going to get is a dirty look.”

      However, if you are referring to a situation where you need to get a woman’s attention…..just realize that thankfully most people do not use the word Ma’am. Most people say, “Excuse me,” or “Excuse me please,” when they want someone’s attention. More examples of Ma’amless and oh so common speech are: “Oh, hold on! You forgot your credit card!” or “I’ll take the next in line please,” or “Wait a second! You don’t have your french fries!” … or….”Excuse me, do you need help with that?” and so forth and so on.

      James, realize and pay attention to how often you do NOT use the M word. Observe yourself, and especially with young women in their 20’s. Watch how you get their attention. Watch how you communicate with them. Odds are you are not addressing them with any honorific whatsoever, or you are calling them Miss. Either way, your own everyday behavior can teach you how it IS possible to get through your day, and your life, without ever needing to call another woman Ma’am.

    • It is incredibly different being a man in his thirties, from being a woman in her thirties.

      Not that I would know about 30s. 😉

  323. Kay says:

    For all of us – the Strong, the Proud….the Ma’ammed – please realize, you don’t have to take it! I heard that first from an 85 year old widow sitting next to me on a cross-country flight. Seeing how pissed I was at being called “Ma’am” right after a younger woman was called “Miss”, this wise widow told me: “You don’t have to put up with that, you know. No how,” and nodded her head back and forth. “No you don’t. You just say something. Just say it.” And I have ever since.

    So what do I say? Really the list is endless, and can be catered to almost every situation. And believe it or not, MOST people actually understand right away and say, yes, they really do say “Sorry.” They KNOW it’s not a ‘nice’ word, but it comes out of their mouth without thinking. Now, you and I are here to make sure the Ma’amer’s start thinking about what they are saying. And it’s a lot easier than you think. Let me count the ways…

    “Thank you, Ma’am”

    – “You know what? I really don’t like to be called Ma’am. Please don’t call me Ma’am.”
    [Usual response: “Uh. Then what should I call you?”]
    “You don’t have to call me anything. Just say, ‘Thank you,’ that’s really all I need.”


    – “Please don’t call me Ma’am, okay?”
    – “Please don’t call me Ma’am, there’s no need for it, okay?”
    – “You know, you just called me Ma’am, did you know that?”
    [Usual response: A very wide eyed, “Uh, no.”]
    – “Excuse me, but, I have to ask, why did you call that girl over there “Miss” but you called me “Ma’am?”
    – “You know, you just called her Miss, but called me – the person right behind her – Ma’am. That doesn’t make me feel real good, ya know.”
    – “You know, when someone calls me Ma’am, I feel like an 90 year old wrinkled old lady.”
    – “You know, when you call me Ma’am it makes me feel like a really old lady. Did you mean to do that?”
    – “Ok. Well, that’ll be $300. Will that be in cash or a check? … $300 for what? … well this year I am charging anyone who calls me Ma’am $300 for a Botox treatment. So, cash or check?”
    – “Oh my God, that’s it. It’s all over. I’ve been Ma’ammed.”
    – “Hey, don’t call me Ma’am.”
    – “Why did you call me Ma’am? …. No, your Manager did not tell you to call women Ma’am….Because no large corporation these days trains their employees to call people Ma’am…So why did you really call me Ma’am?”
    – “I’m sorry, but, if you call me Ma’am one more time I am just going to scream.”

    You can also opt for calling over a Manager if you are stuck in a situation where the Ma’aming won’t stop, such as eating a restaurant. I ask nicely for the server to send over their Manager, or I get up and find the Manager. I then calmly tell the manager it’s getting uncomfortable for me to be called Ma’am over and over and over and over. So, could he please ask the waiter to Stop, or, please send us another waiter. Only once has this resulted in being sent another waiter. And that Non-Ma’amming waiter was given a near 50% tip.


    One day at the grocery store, the bagger says to me “Do you want this in paper or plastic, Ma’am?”
    Grrrr. There was a woman cashier, and at least five women behind me in line. I knew I was in friendly territory. So I said to the bagger, “Why did you call me Ma’am?”
    He said, “Er…Um…because I don’t know your name?”
    Me: “I really hate being called Ma’am. I really hate it.”

    Then the cashier turned to the bagger and said, “YEAH! My Mom HATES being called Ma’am too.”

    And then there was a glorious, victorious, resounding silence as seven sets of female eyes stared at this young man, just stared, waiting for his response.

    “Well, I don’t know your name! What am I supposed to call you?”
    I answered, “You don’t have to ‘call’ me anything.”
    I get a confused look.
    I continue, “Try this. Say this after me, Okay? Here we go, “Would you like that in plastic or paper today?….Ok, you try it..go ahead.”

    So, he repeats slowly, “Would you like that in paper or, uh, plastic?”

    “See! See how easy it is! And you didn’t insult me! That is great!”

    Now, you have to believe me on this one….we all broke out into applause. The women behind me clapped, the cashier clapped and gave the young man the V for Victory sign. It was epic.

    The bagger smiled and smiled. He was blown over by our response. I bet he didn’t know he could have made seven women so happy all at once.

    Know that you are in the MAJORITY. 80% of women extremely dislike the M word. 80%! The more of us who comment on the Ma’amming, the sooner it will end.

    If my friends and I can do it, so can you! I know it.

    • digitalrep says:

      I have been telling people who serve me the same thing… I don’t put it on them, I just say, “I really don’t like being called ma’am.” Then it’s about me. But still… They really seem to hate it. However I still agree with you. We need to keep speaking out about this so that it will eventually stop.

    • Sara Smith says:

      First of all i LOVE you! This one million times. I always have said the following:
      – being called ma’am at a health food place – I laughed and said “wow I guess if I’m being called ma’am the extra money Im spending on food like this isnt working.”
      -or I say something back to them extra sweetly such as “thank you…pause look them in the eye and smile then refer to them as ma’am or sir”
      – lastly – “even if you do think I look older than you, may I ask why you think its nice to point it out?”

      never understood why anyone thinks this is a nice thing to call someone. Texas cowboys excused (howdy ma’am in a flirty way is charming as long as they would call someone that whether 16 or 60)

  324. Sabrina says:

    Huge rant: All of a sudden I’ve been noticing people calling me “lady” and “ma’am” around town and it really pisses me off and has given me major insecurities! I’ve never been called “miss” before. I was sometimes “that girl” but mostly people talked casually to me without having to use any titles at all. I enjoyed casual masculine titles like “buddy” or “dude” or “hey man, hows it going?” And I also liked when people referred to me as my hobbies because it felt more personal, like “here comes Skateboarder Chick”. One friend of mine called me and her “gals” and I thought it was cute. I’d prefer being called “hey you!” rather than lady, woman or ma’am. I was okay with being called girl because I was accustom to it at such a young age. Even though I was the son my father never had, I hated the term “tom boy” because the term was made fun of so much back then.
    Both lady and ma’am make me feel old BUT I’m not sure that these terms are indicative of being old, because I’m not old and it’s not like I look like I’ve aged all of a sudden. It makes me feel old because when you get older you are supposed to act more proper, be more mature, be more responsible, and I don’t want to be any of those things.
    I HAVE changed my wardrobe and I do look different than I used to. I used to dress punk and goth. Now I look much more presentable and unfortunately I look friendlier, so perhaps people do respect me more.
    My problem with these titles isn’t necessarily the age factor. For example some mother told her child “say hello to the nice lady” and it really pissed me off because 1) How the hell can she assume that I am a nice person? She doesn’t know me! Whether I am nice or not is my own goddamn business. I was used to people being afraid of me and frankly, I liked it better than this. 2) I am NOT a lady. I am female, but definitely NOT a lady. I don’t act proper, I don’t behave proper, and I hate everything about being formal or classy, I hate that these people are judging me to be something I’m not, they don’t even know me! I’m not interested in being seen as some respected authority. Do I look like I’m wearing a victorian style dress and am all prim and proper? I certainly hope not, because it’s not the look I’m trying to acheive! My wardrobe only consists of athletic clothes, many sweat pants and board shorts, and when I wear a dress, I wear very provactive mini skirts, which certainly do not make me look like a “lady.”
    And “Ma’am” sounds like something you would call your old hag of a teacher in elementary school, so I really don’t want that title having anything to do with me.
    Also, I am completely submissive in bed so I wouldn’t enjoy being called ma’am there either, and I would also hate to be called mistress or any other term of endearment for that matter.
    So forget about sweetheart, lovey, or any of that bs. I had an ex who liked to call me his “old lady”, it was really annoying to me.
    My boyfriend (I’m even hesitant on what to call him, my guy/soulmate/my man, there really are no terms for him that feel right either) he likes to call me Little One and I like it because it makes me feel submissive next to him.
    And being called “woman” sounds very derogatory to me, because I’ve heard so many men refer to women as women in a bad context, such as “that woman is nuts”. It’s like they only use the word “woman” when it’s in a negative context. Thankfully the only people who have ever called me a woman were a few spiritual people who were really into women’s medicine and celebrating the power of feminity so I didn’t take offence to it in that context.

  325. Jack Handy says:

    I actually came here to read the latest on how people felt about ma’am.

    Ma’am is a pet name for my girlfriend, who originally thought I might be part of the incorrectly stereotyped assumption that my city is full of cowboys due to its western roots. Furthermore, I respect her and we both acknowledge she’s not under 20 anymore – we’re okay with that. I’ll call her Miss too sometimes since we’re not married. She calls me Sir at times in return though I don’t demand it nor consider her of lesser status.

    Speaking for the anti-: princess/dbag/pedestal/white knight/wuss/over-sensitive/hurt my feelings/everyone’s special/everyone’s a winner/extremely politically correct/entitled/special interest – crowd…

    Sheesh. Lighten up or find something important to protest m’ladies. If we wanted to address you in a truly insulting manner, we’d probably do just that. Some of you sound downright b*tchy!

    I find it ironic that many women on here detest ma’am to the point of rage, yet are perfectly ready to be addressed as m’lady: a term loaded with undertones that you are of a higher social status and the rest of us and that we’re here to serve you (not that I care or assume it has to follow that definition, but still don’t plan on using it myself). Isn’t “my lady” a little possessive for those who don’t want to live in the past? I can spin an assumption too when convenient!

    I will refer to men as Sir at times whether I know them or not, particularly when thanking them or being polite/professional. Once in a while, I will be asked not to call someone Sir because they don’t want that feeling of superiority over me – not because I’ve hurt their feelings by making them feel they’ve hit a certain age.

    “Chivalry is dead” and “can’t find a nice guy” some women cry, yet ironically I notice many of these same women tend to:
    – run away from it these days as though it’s offensive or creepy
    – have no problem being a self-proclaimed princess or queen
    (yes, there are many men who think they’re kings and heroes but I’m not going to start calling them Lords, etc.)

    I’ve worked with both men and women who refer to a group of women as “you guys”. You’d think that would be a bigger issue (still really a non-issue) but not as classy/educated-sounding as something like “ladies”.

    Perhaps I’ll check for wedding rings and use Miss when appropriate regardless of age? If no ring, I’ll use Missus? Will that do?

    Forget the stress or the risk of insulting. If I don’t know your name, I’ll just stick to eye contact and “you” when getting your attention I guess.

    I’ll reserve ma’am for my girlfriend from now on. It makes sense now that I think of it – calling some of you ma’am implies I have respect for you when clearly your comments prove otherwise.

    Thank you to the women who can sleep at night knowing ma’am is still in use (whether it’s your preference or not), that the world hasn’t ended and that some things old-fashioned are still okay in the ridiculous world we live in today.

    Don’t like ma’am? Fine, tell me your preference, but being outrageously offended is seriously borderline drama queen and most fitting of GIRLS!

    • Likely nothing will change the mind of this man, but it is clear that chivalry is not actually part of Jack’s daily life because no man who has any respect for the female gender would post the misogynistic things you have scattered about this page. Some people don’t like the word. In what universe is it ok to dictate what is respectful and then insist that everyone feel respected in response to that? And on top of that to call women names for explaining they don’t like a certain word that has taken on connotations that are displeasing over the years…what possible justification is there for your anger? You realize that a word has developed negative connotations. You get an explanation for why that is. And you make an effort not to use it. You don’t swear at and berate those who are the object of this negative word. Asking people if they qualify for the senior discount is also offensive. Those who want the discount will let the checker know. Aging is difficult and private. No one needs to have every day language add to the stress of aging. We’re not defending something like a brutal beating for the use of the word ma’am and insisting the barista or check-out girl or waitress had it coming for using an agist term. We’re informing the public that we don’t like the word. No drama. No immaturity. Just a polite request. So be chivalrous and don’t utter any word to someone that implies you have come to a conclusion about their age, race, weight, sexual preference or income. It really isn’t that hard.

    • rachaeltowne says:

      I have to agree with you here Jack. I’m a woman over 40 and get called ma’am all of the time. The first few times it happened I will admit that I was surprised. It made me realize that I was being perceived as a grown-up woman and that is a good thing.

      What is with this modern need that women have to stay forever young?

    • Kalispell says:

      Ma’am literally means M’Lady, Jack. It comes from the French, Ma Damme (My Lady)…then shorted to Madam, but still meaning My Lady….then in was shorted to Ma’am, with the apostrophe standing for the “d”. So when you say Ma’am, it DOES hold all of those class connotations to which you protested.

      When I was little I asked my grandmother what “Ma’am” meant, and should I say it. She said, “Don’t you EVER call anyone Ma’am – you’re not a servant.” Then she added, “WE are the people who get called Ma’am.” Meaning, we were the upper class Park Avenue family who had maids and cooks who should call us Ma’am and Sir.

      So, that is one huge reason I don’t like those words. They are used to separate the classes, to put the lower working classes in their ‘places’ by requiring higher class people to be addressed with honorifics.

      What historic movies. Do you EVER see the rich family calling the servants “Ma’am” or “Sir”, EVER? No. Servants are just called by their names. Ma’am and Sir are words that the working classes and poor (and slaves in the South) were forced to call their ‘higher ups’.

      Even though I may have come from ‘money’, I still do not think it’s right to force others to show you ‘respect’ by calling you My Lady (Ma’am). I’m not their owner, I’m not their boss, I’m not the “Lady” who’s married to their feudal Land Lord. I’m just a person like they are. So, I don’t need an honorific to put someone else in their place and place me above them.

  326. b says:

    This post is so true. I am 29 and have just started getting the intermittent “ma’am” in the last year, and it is so irritating. I understand it is a sign of respect, but people only use ma’am when they think you are older. I also find it sexist since only women switch titles (from Miss to Ma’am) based on age. I usually get it from the young kids (teens and very early 20s) but on occasion I have had people much older than me use it on me too. At first I didn’t say anything, but now I will jokingly tell the person to please not call me ma’am because I am not that old. They usually take the hint if you’re good humored about it. I think women need to let people know that they don’t like being distinguished based on their age/appearance since men are not. Staying quiet and smiling through it just means it will continue.

    • jomama says:

      How about. Get over it 40 something frumps

      • Katie says:

        Jomama, “how about get over it?” How about respect peoples’ wishes? Is it really that hard to NOT utter a word? Oh wait! Your barely literate, misogynistic insult delivered randomly to all women of whatever age who object to an unnecessary salutation indicates that you are likely incapable of respect. Oh well, MCP, given your attitude, I can only imagine you have been addressed by a far more offensive term, so perhaps in your case I will let it slide. Go ahead and call all of us “40 something frumps” ma’am. It may be your only chance to talk to a woman.

  327. Nathan says:

    Really? Jesus, will y’all make up your minds? I am in a wheelchair, for 8 years now, and someone, a woman, held the door for me a few months ago. I said thank you ma’am, and she snapped at me, “don’t call me ma’am, it offends me,” I retorted, “is assho** apropos?

    • Katie says:

      It’s preferable to ma’am, old man.

    • Sara Smith says:

      I would MUCH prefer a..hole to ma’am tbh. One is a reflection that the speaker is rude (a**hole) the other is a comment on my face, body and level of attractiveness. If I do look older I would just rather no one point it out to me.

      • KH says:

        Here’s a simple way to not be confused, you Ma’ammers out there: Just Don’t Say It. That way no one gets upset at you, you won’t look like a fuddy duddy, or sound like an idiot. Times have changed. If there is some little old lady in your neighborhood who truly appreciates the word, and you know this because you asked her, then go make her day. Otherwise, no, it’s not polite anymore.

  328. Brian Wozniak says:

    Alot of folks don’t relate to each other. Sir and maam just validates it.

  329. Sue Henshon says:

    If someone addresses me as ma’am, I address him or her back as ma’am. Usually people don’t appreciate it, and they promptly stop ma’aming me. I figure one good ma’am deserves another!

    • Ice c says:

      Just go barefoot pls

      Give me a break. ..

    • Sara Smith says:

      I do the same:)! It usually gets an apology

      • KH says:

        Yes! Almost always you’ll get an apology from another woman. Younger men still haven’t learned yet, and think they’re being polite. To them I have a bevy of remarks, my favorite is now, “Sure, BOY. You can help me, BOY.” Then they stop…confused. I’ll explain, “Well, back when Ma’am was used, it was polite in turn to call the servant who used it ‘boy’. So if you call me Ma’am, I’ll call you “boy”..or does that insult you? Oh, you don’t like that? It makes you feel belittled? Oh, well, then don’t call women Ma’am because it has the same effect on us.” And that can all be said calmly, even with a smile.

        Most people are unaware of the class divisions these words were created to maintain. It’s such old old worn out language that relates to NOTHING in today’s society. If you want to be polite to me, then just be nice and pleasant. No need for Ma’amming.

  330. Paul Burns says:

    Perhaps the author has given this word just a tad too much power over her. It is a sign of respect and does not come from soon trying to say you’re old. I call every female ma’am. The young ones think it’s funny to be getting called ma’am by someone who is older than them. The women who are close in age to me act like I just called them the C word. I’m 40 by the way, so if you’re 32 and I call you ma’am it’s not a reason to have your day ruined.

    • Sara Smith says:

      Id rather be called the C word tbh. That is more neutral than being told my face doesnt look young.

    • KH says:

      People who use Ma’am also use Miss, as they were taught these words by well-meaning grandparents or by non-college educated parents. So, Paul says he calls every woman Ma’am? I doubt it. I’d bet $100 he calls younger women Miss, and older women Ma’am. And I bet he doesn’t even think about it or realize he’s doing it. That’s why it’s ok to speak up and say, Hey, why did you call me Ma’am? etc etc…so many people do it without thinking….

  331. Jessica Sanchez says:

    “I’ll tell you what the sitch’ is, Straight up from McShady, You hangin’ with your bitches, But I’m hangin’ with M’lady.”
    I can already imagine how much better my mornings will be, “Here’s your double espresso, M’Lady.”
    “Well, thank you, kind sir. I will see you, and your repulsive earlobe, anon.”

    Lmao!!! I am dying! That is seriously funny! I hate ma’am too! I even prefer bitch to ma’am! Ma’am is just horrible! Thanks for the good laugh!!! 😂

  332. Luz says:

    Hi I am from Argentina in South America, and I hate that the people call me ma’am👴 too, (well in my language it is “señora”😦) I don’t know how to say this at the people, because I can’t say at them: “oh! I’m not a ma’am, call me Miss” because Miss is so ridiculous😒. I think this is worldwide, and this is one cause for the women become fat and abandoning something dreams, well this is my resume opinion, I like your post, and I hope that I have managed to make myself understood, with the little that I know of English.

  333. Becky Sweat says:

    I just stumbled across this article and absolutely loved it! I am a Northerner living in Texas and I remember when people starting calling me “Ma’am” instead of “Miss.” There was a transition period when I just hit middle-age and it could go either way; the days I went out in public dressed nicely with my hair and makeup done up, I always got called “Miss.” But when I went out in public and I wasn’t wearing makeup, I got called “ma’am” sure enough. It most certainly comes across as degrading to me. I equate “Ma’am” with the message that says, “Hey, Old Lady,” or “Wow, you look frumpy today.”

    I also don’t like being called “Ma’am” in social/work/family circles. To me, when you call someone you know “Ma’am,” it doesn’t sound like you’re close. It sounds like you’re putting up a wall between you and the other person.

    I have asked this question over and over again to Texas friends: I have never called anybody “ma’am” in my life. So does that automatically don’t respect people? No, it doesn’t. I also told me kids when from the time they were little that I didn’t want them calling me “Ma’am.” I wanted them to say “Yes, Mom,” or “Yes, Ma’am.” That sounds like we have a loving, familial relationship. “Yes, Ma’am” sounds like we’re modeling our family after the armed services.

    I don’t see the point of tacking “Ma’am” on. Just say “Yes.” No “Ma’am” is needed.

    I have asked people in Texas to please not call me “Ma’am,” and they refuse. So what does that say? I get it that in their brains they may think they are showing respect. Personally, I think with some they are just being stubborn and trying to shove their cultural paradigms at me. But the question I always come back at is if something really bothers someone, why keep doing it? If someone really doesn’t like you addressing them a certain way, why not be respectful of their wishes?

    Anyway, thanks for your post!

  334. Becky Sweat says:

    I found a typo:

    I have asked this question over and over again to Texas friends: I have never called anybody “ma’am” in my life. So does that automatically don’t respect people? No, it doesn’t. I also told me kids when from the time they were little that I didn’t want them calling me “Ma’am.” I wanted them to say “Yes, Mom,” or “Yes, Mommy.” That sounds like we have a loving, familial relationship. “Yes, Ma’am” sounds like we’re modeling our family after the armed services.

  335. Cristina says:

    Like being stabbed in the gut. I actually could saw it ruin one woman’s night.

  336. tuky says:

    My main blogging issue is lack of time (I still haven’t adjusted to how demanding and time intensive one tiny child can be)! I can only use the midnight shift for working, once the little darling is asleep (which means my blog post rate is about twice a month – if lucky! – as it takes me a long time to write each article)…but this is not something you can help with. Just something I need to accept!

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