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Aeriel

Help Me, I've been ma'am-ed

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Aeriel

OK, I know it's short for 'Madame' and is supposed to be a term of respect, like 'sir'. But it isn't. When someone calls me 'ma'am', in that short syllable what I really hear is "useless old bag who holds absolutely no interest to me whatsoever". It is bad enough getting ma'amed by teens and young men, but getting it from a woman close to my age makes me absolutely wild.

I didn't get ma'amed until I was well into my 50's; maybe that's what makes it even more unpleasant. I didn't expect it was gonna happen. I can't figure out why I object so much to the word, since when someone calls you ma'am, you can be 100% certain that they're not going to hit on you; and I am really glad that I don't have to deal with that annoyance anymore.

I guess it's a reminder that I am now officially on the far side of our youth-worshipping society and have nothing left to contribute. In fact I've been watching Wendy Hiller and Sian Phillips flicks with an eye to constructing a new role model for myself; a sort of cross between Princess Dragomiroff and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam is what I'm going for. At least they've got some dignity.

Other women - does 'ma'am make big sirens go off in your head too, and make you want to leap over tall countertops to strangle the person who uses it on you?

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str8fuknpimpin

man. i've been ma'amed man. lots. probably as early as my late teens. depending on the person, i usually call them "ma'am" back. :lol:

oh lord. :) hehe. like, you know, "thank you ma'am"

me: "oh, no problem, ma'am"

if it's a little kid, ok, that would be confusing and retarded to call them ma'am. but, helm yeah man, kid's like over 18 dude, and i'm like, "wha? ma'am could you not label me? i mean, jeez. on da real :roll: "

people shouldn't really say ma'am after 18 unless they're small town southerners confused about the fact that they aren't children anymore :wink:

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roddy9uk

You have completely lost me here. Presuming you aren't male what on earth can you object to in it?

It is simply a respectful way of speaking to someone. It acknowledges that you, the customer/client have a RIGHT to the service you have asked for. In the UK "Madam" would be the accepted equivalent as "Ma'am" is reserved for official superiors (as in the services or a Boss/employee relationship).

roddy

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KAGU143

The only reason it bothers me is because I don't FEEL like a "ma'am"

I don't let it bother me, though. The people who refer to me as ma'am obviously don't know me and are not likely to ever be a significant part of my life.

So far, I've just shrugged it off.

If it gets too common then I guess I'll start carrying a chainsaw instead of a purse or something ... ? Hmmm ... a purse that LOOKS like a chainsaw would be cool! ... *ponders*

Whatever it takes to keep 'em off balance, ya know! :lol:

-Greybird

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Brodertun

Where I grew up you definately don't call someone ma'am is a sign of respect. Its basically equivalent to calling theman old school marm.

On the other hand, it is slightly nice for me to be called ma'am around here, because I'm far too often mistaken for a teenager and that shows the person has realized that I'm not.

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Calla_Lily

i can relate to this aeriel! i dislike being called "ma'am". i think this is a chick thing that most guys would not understand. here's my take on it: for females there is "miss or ma'am". for males there is basically, "sir". so whether a male is 18 or 57, he usually gets "sir'ed". "miss" denotes youth so when we're assigned the dreaded "ma'am", it makes us feel like we're viewed as old, no longer fit to be considered "miss".

at the grocery store one day the carry out guy (probably 19 years old) said, "how are you today ma'am?"

to which i replied, "i'd be better if you didn't call me ma'am, it makes me feel old!" he just chuckled. after that, he never called me ma'am again! :lol:

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Dargon

I've never realised that ma'am has non-youthful connotations. I've "ma'amed" people who look to be teenagers. I've been taught by my mother that "ma'am" is a respectful way to address a female someone.

As for "miss," I have NEVER heard that used except in front of a last name. Perhaps there is some regional influence in the useage as well?

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roddy9uk
As for "miss' date='" I have NEVER heard that used except in front of a last name. Perhaps there is some regional influence in the useage as well?[/quote']quote]

There is certtainly a difference in usage in COUNTRIES..I couldn't say about regional (assuming you mean in the States)

In the UK "Miss" is the title given to a schoolmistress. As in "Please Miss may I...?"

But then again if you want regional differences in UK as to how a female shopper might be addressed by the shopkeeper/sales clerk..you have to run the gamut of..Mrs..Missis..Missy.. Dear... Dearie,... Love..., Duck..., Meduck..Lovie..Darlin..(in London only that one I think) Madam..Madame (in VERY snooty shops)..

roddy

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yam
I've never realised that ma'am has non-youthful connotations. I've "ma'amed" people who look to be teenagers. I've been taught by my mother that "ma'am" is a respectful way to address a female someone.

As for "miss," I have NEVER heard that used except in front of a last name. Perhaps there is some regional influence in the useage as well?

or maybe ethnicity. when i taught in texas, instead of m'am, i got miss. just miss. but it was pronounced with a strong latino accent so it sounded more like meece, meece... it was funny not to hear it when i moved to arkansas to teach.

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Ziffler

Oh WOW!!!!! I am old.

I was taught by both my mom and dad to always address any and all females as Ma'am. Age didn't matter. Marital status didn't matter. It was always yes ma'am, no'ma'am or no excuse ma'am. If I didn't use that exact phrase I got slapped in a blink. With men it was yes sir, no sir, or no excuse sir, and again it didn't matter about age or marital status.

When I was just a little thing, my dad would bring his marine buddies home and late into the night I was yes siring and no siring to all them drunks.

I part time at a grocery store now, so if you stop in, you will deffinately hear me asking, "Can I help you ma'am?" Yes ma'am, I'd be glad to." Anything else I can do for you ma'am?" "Certainly ma'am, I would be happy to."

After all these years, there is absolutely no way I could ever change, so I guess get used to it. LOL.

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mackat5

Hmmm, ma'am never bothered me. But I find the use in various places on the internet of Ms does irritate me. To me, that means manuscript!

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Dargon
I've never realised that ma'am has non-youthful connotations. I've "ma'amed" people who look to be teenagers. I've been taught by my mother that "ma'am" is a respectful way to address a female someone.

As for "miss," I have NEVER heard that used except in front of a last name. Perhaps there is some regional influence in the useage as well?

or maybe ethnicity. when i taught in texas, instead of m'am, i got miss. just miss. but it was pronounced with a strong latino accent so it sounded more like meece, meece... it was funny not to hear it when i moved to arkansas to teach.

Texas is a large state, which part of Texas was that? I am from the Dallas area, and that's where I learned to "ma'am" people.

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Derp

I've been "ma'am-ed" ever since I was in my early 20s. :roll: I don't like it, but I suppose it's better than "you there". :lol: I guess you have to find something to call a person when you don't know their name.

I'm not particularly fond of "miss" or "young lady", either.. those just sound condescending to me. I've been called "sir" a few times, too.. that felt kinda weird. :oops: Though in all fairness, I haven't always made it easy to tell. :roll: :lol:

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Xenon

Working in a call centre environment, I use "sir" and "ma'am" with customers regularly... even though in some cases I know I'm talking to someone young enough to be my own kid. (The customer, of course, doesn't know that.)

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Goonie

doh! :oops: I am one of those people who ma'am or sir others. My mom drilled it into me. I don't do it as much, but sometimes it does come out. What really starts to worry me is when people start refering to me as Ms. LastName.

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cijay

I don't mind being ma'amed, it's the 'dear' and 'honey' from someone I don't know. If you're gonna' use those terms, you better be older than 50. (Family and friends are exempt, my cousins and I call each other 'hun' and 'honey'). There's one who calls into where I work and everything she says is 'yes dear', 'thank you hun', 'thanks dear' EVERY FRICKIN' SENTENCE!!! :evil:

But it's funny, one of my clients is an older man (I know he has grandkids but he's not old enough to be MY grandfather). Our relationship is very business, it's all over the phone, too but when I close any weekly sales, the last thing he says is "thanks babe." and that doesn't bother me at all. Probably because he doesn't do any of the "well I'll come and take you out for dinner" blah-blah that the others do.

Another thing that's really odd that I can't stand is "Ms". I can understand if someone doesn't know my preferences, "Ms" is a safe bet and I don't have a problem with other women choosing "Ms" but I'm an unmarried woman and I LIKE the term "Miss". That's why I like when I go to the UK, I'm Miss Morgan, not Ms Morgan. And ESPECIALLY when other women say to me "you're a liberated woman, you should be Ms, not Miss". I say "I'm a liberated woman, this means I have a CHOICE! My choice is to be "Miss."

It's not even on a lot of application forms anymore. You have "Mr." Ms", "Mrs" or "Dr."

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141822

I get 'sir' 99% of the time. If not, eurgh, I get honey, sweetie, and all sorts of things my parents don't even call me. Do I even know you? There's most likely a good reason why. Maybe if I was 12 and have fluffy pink polar bear pyjamas, but no. If someone called me ma'am I'd probably fall to the floor laughing.

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Calla_Lily

interesting reading the posts about how to address someone. i'm in ohio and for females it is either "miss", or "ma'am" and it seems to be age based. i've lived in ohio most of my life and when visiting people in other ohio towns, i also hear "miss" or "ma'am". maybe this is just yet another way ohio is weird! hehehe maybe globally, avenites can create a new word to address females, combine miss and ma'am.....how about "mim"? :shock:

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Akrisaya

I'm 15, and I'm starting to get ma'am'd. o.o

I'm taught to just say ma'am, myself. Doesn't matter how old they are.

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Tanwen

Around Banbury, everyone is 'me duck'

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a-d

Is there a universal way to address a woman respectfully? It seems that any form of address is regarded as condescending or something.

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Aventually

I really don't care what people call me, 'cause I figure they just do it out of habit, and/or that's just how they were taught. I see no reason to take it personally.

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Islander9

In Aotearoa - M'am short for Madam pronounced Mum - is what you say to highranking older women whose names you dont know in Pakeha settings. And the age is gauged by eye-it's being polite! Happens in restaurants, whatever-not-you see, most of us actually know one another?

So this is only used in VERY formal situations- if I met Cath Tizard (current governor-general) or Helen Clark (current prime minister) I'd say M'am after being formally introduced, and then Cath or Helen(have been through this before folks)-

in Maori settings (South Island) you say, Taua (Poua for the blokes)-

it is a polite useage-

and so?

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cijay
Is there a universal way to address a woman respectfully? It seems that any form of address is regarded as condescending or something.

I don't think there's a universal way. Like Aventually said, they're not saying it to be condescending. For as much as I don't like 'dear' or 'Ms', it's certainly not worth getting upset over. Esp. when it's something like in a store or something where it's just going to be quick and casual.

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Wee_Little_Me

Start doing very youthful things like wearing cargo pants and dieing your hair black and hanging a joint out of your mouth.

Even if you dont fool anyone Im sure it'll throw them off enough to prevent the dreaded "ma'am" from leaking out of their mouth.

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Aeriel

From the varying responses, I can see this is very much a cultural thing and/or an upbringing thing. Thanks to everyone who replied; I will try not to take the whole 'ma'am-ing' business too seriously or too personally; think I'll stop short of the black hair/joint thing, though.

I guess my main problem with being ma'am-ed is the dismissive nature of the word. It does not convey respect, to me. I would prefer no honorific at all, than to hear 'ma'am'. Hell, I'd even prefer 'sir', at least I could get a laugh out of it.

As an aside, because of my personal dislike for being called ma'am, I call other women 'miss' regardless of their age. I've yet to be ignored when I say, "Excuse me, miss?" From ages 15 to 80, every single woman I've so addressed will turn around and pay attention in response....

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Kelly

I thought that "Ma'am" was respectful, just the same way as "Sir." 8)

I am not bothered by it in the least. "Sir," on the other hand, I take as an insult.

edit: after seeing Calla_Lily's reply, yes, "Miss" is nice. I like that, but have not heard it for a while. :?

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Calla_Lily

right on aeriel! like you, i address all females, regardless of age, as "miss".

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mouth brooder

Yam and Dargon, I was a Meese for almost twenty years, taught up and down the TXMX border--made me the warm happy lady I am today. I learned a good amount of Spanish from my students, and now, living back east, if I hear something like, mira, buey, while I am out shopping, I get wistful.

I grew up in NJ where M'am was for old ladies.

I moved south and west and then M'am was for any gal if I was in any kind of service position.

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Wario

I get "sir'ed" sometimes and I hate it. I inwardly cringe whenever I hear that said to me.

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