Friday, March 14, 2008

Ma'am

Why is this word so very loathed by women today?

When you look up the word ma'am in the dictionary, you may find a variety of meanings. When I typed it into Google's search engine, I clicked on the top result. What did I find? On thefreedictionary.com it is defined as "a woman of refinement. Used as a form of polite address for a woman." How is this a bad thing?!

Where I come from, Ma'am really is supposed to be a term of respect. Yet many women react with a cringe or even indignance when they are called ma'am. A very common reaction I've heard when a lady is called ma'am: "*Ugh* Don't call me Ma'am! I'm not that old!" Why? Why do so many women interpret it that someone sees them as 'old' and not respected?

I'll never ever forget the first time anyone ever called me Ma'am... It was by an Army recruiter while I was in high school. I just felt so respected - to a young lady, this is a huge deal. Especially when you feel like you're respected by someone who himself deserves a lot of respect. (Regardless of branch, I think anyone who serves our country in the armed forces deserves our utmost respect.)

Now that I am quite a bit older than a young lady, I still love to hear someone call me Ma'am. I think about the many other things I could be called in this day & age... I've heard other gals being called SO many bad names, yet they react positively. When being called something that truly is a term of respect, they react negatively. There's something seriously wrong with this picture... So many ladies are fine with being addressed, "Hey Bee-yotch!" but basically throw a fit when they hear the word Ma'am.

My husband actively served our country in the USMC for 5 years, then was honorably discharged. When he first got out, he used to call ladies Ma'am. Though he still calls me that (as he well should, right? Just kidding! I love this term of love and respect from him) he does not use this word with other women. I asked him recently why he doesn't do this anymore. He said, "Because they think it means that I'm insinuating that they're old - which I'm not."

Are we eliminating respect from our lives, simply because we are so focused on not feeling old? Ladies, are we seriously that vain? Would we rather sacrifice our true value to save a blow to our self esteem? Perhaps our egos and how we see ourselves is becoming more important than how we are truly seen. Think about it gals... Let's try to do something about it!

Embrace the refinement, grace, and gentlewoman in all of us - accept that you are what you are, Ma'am!

4 comments:

Conservative SuperMom said...

I enjoy being called Ma'am, especially by my kiddos. :) And I make sure that they always say it to others as well. Including "Yes Sir".

Heck I even say it to people *younger* than me. *sigh*
Hey You're younger than me.... :(

Loved the post darln'

Lucy said...

Hi Amanda,Than you for pointing out the real meaning of Ma‘am. Because I work in telecommunications I am often thanked with a “Thank you Ma├ím”. Now that you have shed some light on the subject I will not take offence (because it might make be sound old) and accept it as a complement that I am certainly a woman of refinement.
Thake care. XXXXOOOO

Egghead said...

I grew up with the idea that Ma'am meant you were old. However, my son-in-law says Ma'am to every woman he meets and I have come to realize that it is a matter of respect, young or old. It now warms my heart to hear it. Good post.

Annissa said...

Well said.