18 March, 2011

The Ma'am Issue

Since I'm feeling a little bummed out and generally on the icky side of life, I figured I'd write about something a little more interesting than my depressing deployment issues. =P

The age issue is always a touchy subject with us women, and quite often the word "ma'am" is identified with age. I read a blog post or two in the last couple weeks about being called "ma'am" and women thinking they were "too young" to be called that. I remember a time when I felt that way myself, and I say this as a 24 year old. =P

I don't remember when it was, but I'm fairly certain that it was in the last couple of years. I mentioned to Joe that someone had called me "ma'am" and I said, "I just can't believe it! I mean, do I look old enough to be called 'ma'am?!" I'll never forget his response: "I should hope he/she called you that! It doesn't mean you're old or young. It's a sign of respect." I'd never really thought of it that way before, but it's definitely the truth. I think the reason it's associated with age is because most people respect (to a degree) people older than they are. But shouldn't we respect everyone, no matter what their age?

I've since realized that the "yes, sir" and "yes ma'am" customs are generally held only in the South. When I flew home over the holidays, I found myself saying those exact things to men and women who were probably my age. I guess I never realized that those...manners had been drilled into me. I suppose they're drilled into most kids raised below the Mason-Dixon line, though.

 Ever since Joe had reminded me that it's a sign of respect, I've warmed to the idea of being called "ma'am." Of course, the only time I ever hear it here is when I'm at the gate having my ID checked. I love it, though. It doesn't make me feel old, and I know that I don't look old. I highly doubt that anyone would mistake me for someone over the age of 20. I have a baby face. Always have and probably always will.

It's a sign of respect, and I'm not going to balk at being respected! I miss the days when men (other than my husband) would hold open doors for me simply because it was the polite thing to do. I miss walking into a room full of cussing guys only to hear them trip over their words because they know not to say such things in front of ladies.*  Believe it or not, those days aren't that far behind me. I think it's a cultural thing, though. These are just things that happen on a daily basis where I come from.

So to all you ladies who are afraid to be called "ma'am," don't take a trip to the South anytime soon. ;-)

Do you love or hate being called "ma'am?"

*That's happened to me a lot, including this past Christmas when one of my brother's friends came over. My family could care less, but I love that his friend refused to cuss in front of me. 


Jes said...

I think it's a sign of respect...doesn't make me feel old at all

Clearbluewater3 said...

It doesn't necessarily make me feel old, but it does sometimes take me a second to figure out who they're talking to! Technically I was raised below the mason dixon line (near DC) but we're about is unsouthern as they come so I think I only had one friend who did the sir/ma'am thing (surprise surprise dad was a marine general...and he became a marine pilot)

Allison said...

I don't mind being called ma'am, but I don't like when Ryan's friends call my ma'am. I would rather just be called Allison or something along those lines, especially since a lot of them are younger than us (since he is only in tech school).

Katie said...

It doesn't bother me when people call me ma'am. In fact, I think it's nice. I take it as politeness, like when guys hold doors open for me. It's not that uncommon here in NC.

Sarah E. said...

My stepdad (who was former Navy) made sure we knew to call adults sir or ma'am and as a sign of politeness Mr or Mrs or Miss So-and-So until they told us we could call them by their first name.

My husband said ma'am to our waitress in a Hooters once and he had to repeat himself two or three times before she realized he had been polite to her. I guess she didn't hear it very much :P

Michelle A'etonu said...

i don't mind it anymore. i'm called ma'am all day long, every day and have since i was commissioned. i didn't like it so much when i was an LT. back then, it really made me feel old!

JG said...

Still makes me feel old, but that's probably because my parents weren't hard and fast about that kind of thing. (In fact, their favorite friends of mine were the ones who called my parents by their first names without being asked.) We were taught respect is an attitude, not a vocabulary. I have to say, some of the people I've had the least respect for over the years are the ones who insist on being called "sir, ma'am, Mr. or Mrs." something. I mean, if you have to ask....you probably don't deserve it. I know it's not traditional, but I believe respect is earned by means other than just surviving a few years longer than I have. But that's a rant for another day.

When I went down to visit SoldierMan at training last year, I was sitting next to a young soldier on the plane. We talked for a couple of minutes very casually. Then I mentioned SoldierMan was in OCS. The guy's posture changed and he started ending every sentence with "ma'am." It was so awkward.

Lisa said...

It does make me feel old at times, but I've gotten so used to being called that by P's soldiers.

It's become a habit to use it at work as well, and some of my coworkers get offended. I try not to offend anyone, but I guess there's no happy medium.

Jessica said...

Great post (I too have read quite a bit of posts about this topic recently)

It does not bother me at all being called m'am (guess that would be my being a southern girl though)

I see it as a respect thing. NOthing to do with age. I say m'am and sir to everyone and teach my children the same. =)