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The One Thing Many Older Women Don't Like To Be Called

There's a word that triggers a really strong reaction, albeit not a uniform one.

There are few topics as polarizing as Donald Trump and whether he should be allowed anywhere near nuclear codes, but one comes mighty close: Is being called “ma’am” ageist or a sign of respect?

We asked our Facebook followers to weigh in on The Great Ma’am Debate and here’s what they had to say. Please don’t shoot the messenger, but put your thoughts in the comments below.

Holly Holden-Eklund is adamant about not wanting to be referred to as “Ma’am.” She also objects to “dear,” “Hon,” and “Darlin’.” Says Holden-Ecklund, “I repeatedly restate my name to the offending nurse, waitress, hair stylist. If I state my name over and over, it indicates I would like to be called Holly. As for a cohort label, ‘wise woman’ will do just fine.”

Cheryl Fuller Sparks has a different take. “If someone does not know me, or my name, I am touched that they are respectful enough to say ma’am. It is what I do, whether I am face-to-face or on the phone. People deserve that.” Susan Shafer works with people representing many different cultures. She also sees ‘ma’am” as a term of respect, generally used for someone older than the speaker. Her advice to the anti-ma’amers: “Get over it. Stop making it mean something it’s not meant to mean.”

Speaking in a very practical sense, Mark J. Mathews offered this: “Yeah...hey ‘you anonymous female person’ sounds great as I helped an older woman find a bathroom at the MLB game yesterday.... ;)”

Susan Thompson got her first “ma’am” when she was just 18. “It kind of blew my mind, but at the time I liked it. I felt very grown-up. It’s kind of a weird word but it doesn’t bother me. What I wish they’d find a replacement for is ‘madam.’ I cringe every time I address something with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ ― sounds like I’m implying she runs a whore house lol.” Personally, we prefer brothel.

Marg Sunshine takes her ‘ma’ams” one at a time and doesn’t rush to judgment. “I pay attention to the tone and attitude of the person and the situation first. If someone calls me ‘ma’am’ to be genuinely courteous, then I appreciate it. If, however, it is done with a feeling of mocking, then I don’t like it.”

Then there was Janet Rafferty, whose comment we couldn’t love more. “I don’t care for it,” she said, “but I don’t really have a good substitute. How about you don’t talk to me at all. :) Kidding. (sort of)” Yeah, us too.

 
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