I’m OK with it, if it is said by a young person (25 or younger). By the way, I just turned 50 and got carded last week, how can I make rum cake without rum?. So take a little from column A and a little from column B and with 6 you get eggrolls. No problem (which is a term I hate, when it refers to something that should never have been considered a problem in the first place). I’d rather be called Ma’am than Hey You!
@Adironcackwannabe I’m OK with Ma’am, Miss or Ms. Kardamom. Or even plain old Kay. I don’t get offended easily by mis-interpreted signs of age. I’m totally OK with that,h because I realize that some people can’t really figure out how old someone is. When I got carded the other day, I just said, “Thanks” and whipped ouet my ID and told him what I did on my birthday.
I’m afraid too many women get offended by stuff that wasn’t intended to be offensive. There is a female checker at my local grocery store who calls everyone (male of female) honey, sweetheart or dear, and I think it’s sweet. If it were a dirty old man, I’d probably have a different opinion, but that’s the deal, context does matter.
@chyna I took a drive into the mountains with my folks and my brother and his family and we had breakfast at a wonderful mom and pop restaurant. I had huevos rancheros and my litttle nephew had French toast, of which I ate half. God it was good! It was delicious and the air was fresh and clean. Perfect day. Then we drove around in the mountains, including visiting a campground that my Mom pointed out that we stayed at when I was 6 months old!!!! I had no memory of this camping trip, but my brother recalled that it rained and we had to dig a ditch around our tent because it started to rain. He was just shy of 6 years old, but he recalls the camping trip, vividly! So wonderful!
I don’t like titles at all (Mr., Mrs., Ms., sir, ma’am, lady). I would far prefer someone to simply say “Excuse me” without having to assign some identity to me. These titles are not friendly for GNC persons and they make me feel a bit awkward. I don’t use them when speaking to other people and have been told, one more than one occasion, that it was very rude of me not to call someone “sir” or “ma’am” (and I was also called rude when I resisted being assigned a title myself after someone used one to refer to me.)
I realize that a stranger in the street is not going to be able to know any of that about me and I won’t get in a huff if I am referred to by sir/ma’am on the bus or at the cash register. But I would also hope that if I attempted to correct said person, and inform them that I am gender neutral and prefer not to be referred to by title, then I also expect that they respect my wishes.
@muppetish” I would far prefer someone to simply say “Excuse me” without having to assign some identity to me.”
That’s my reaction, as well. I don’t particularly like “ma’am”. I have a strong hatred for “lady”. I guess I just don’t see the point of having a gender-associated call sign. If you’re making eye contact, there’s no need for it. If you’re not making eye contact, either you’re being rude or you’re calling someone far away. Chances are, you’re not going to get the attention of the far away person anyway, haha.
Call me ma’am and I think you are southern or in the military. I don’t love it, but if I am in the south I accept it. I am not offended; it just feels uncomfortable. I understand they do it out of respect or simply because it is part of the local vernacular. I am pretty much used to it now. I use it myself sometimes when I am in the south to do in Rome as the Romans do. Being bothered has nothing to do with my age, no one calls anyone ma’am where I come from. When I hear a child call a parent ma’am it sounds awful to me still. I will never get used to that.
What really bothers me is Miss J. I am J or Ms. Lastname. If you call me Ms. Lastname, I will probably ask you to please call me J in most situations.
I read through the answers here again. The gender issue never occured to me. In the case of the police I would just use “officer.” In the case of a stranger I would usually simply use “excuse me” to get their attention. I might add Miss or Sir, usually not. I don’t think most people are uncomfortable with ma’am for the gender reasons, although I respect what people have stated regarding it. I think the discomfort with ma’am usually is because either the person is not used to it, or they associate it with a very heirarchical situation where strict obedience is expected. This is why I hate it among family members. It lacks familiarity to my ears. Add in a southern accent, and it can sound unfriendly or a reminder of the old south. Miss J even worse, because Miss Scarlet rings in my ears. Maybe none of that is true for other people though. I don’t feel southerners necessarily have any of that in their mind. In the military it certainly is used to reinforce who is in charge.
I share @Adirondackwannabe ‘s perplexity: we need some form of direct address for when we don’t know the person’s name. If you take sir and ma’am off the table, what are the acceptable alternatives? I think “Hon” (and the UK equivalent “Luv”) are kind of sweet, but probably too intimate for general use.
Other cultures don’t seem to have any problem with this; I wonder what it says about us that this is an issue here.
@thorninmud In parts of the country they will use Miss, or they quickly find out your name. In the south they use ma’am even when they know your name. Children are expected to answer an adult with, “yes ma’am” when they are asked to do something. It varies among southerners, not all of them, but this is true enough to generalize a little. My southern friend who is a teacher said when she moved to the midwest she had to get used to the children not using ma’am when called on. They can call her Ms. Smith, and call their mom and dad mom and dad. Adding in the ma’am when you do know someone’s name is what bothers me most. In the south ma’am is overused in my opinion. Someone I know who is a boyscott troop leader says he will reprimand the boys up down and sideways, he indicated he would threaten a hit (but he might have added that for drama when he was bragging about how he was helping to rear the boys) if they do not respond with yes sir. I cannot imagine that as a child. The adults I was around were loving and would not expect anything like that even if I did customarily address them by Mr. or Mrs. and their Lastname.
What is more formal and respectful? A neighbor calling me Ms. or Mrs. Lastname, or calling me ma’am like all the other women they run into?
@thorninmud I don’t know that it’s an issue in North America. Clearly it is commonly used. I was speaking from my own, personal point of view. Where I live, it is uncommon to hear “ma’am”, simply because “madame” is far more prevalent.
And for those of us who don’t like “ma’am”, please don’t attempt “hon”. Ha!
@JLeslie Yeah, I grew up in Texas and the same protocols applied.
Thinking about it, there have been movements at various times and places to institute more egalitarian forms of address. That’s what “comrade” was supposed to be under communism, and “citoyen(ne)” under the french revolution.
@thorninmud Is it simple respect? Or, to remind people who is in more control? Who is in charge? I think the most respectful thing to do is ask someone how they prefer to be addressed. Many of my friends in the south would not let their children call me J. They insisted Miss J. So, is that respectful? To not honor what the person themselves prefers to be called? If they were calling me ma’am, I would have liked to tell them, “my name is…,” and I did a lot of the time, but most of those kids would call me ma’am anyway.
@JLeslie That’s the kind of awkwardness that arises when, as in our culture, we don’t all play from the same book. Personally, it strikes me as clumsy to have to establish the ground rules for each new interaction. Social conventions exist to free us from that initial awkwardness. But they only work when we mutually agree to abide by them.
In France, the assumption among adults is that interactions start on a formal level with all of the trappings of respect, then get more casual at the invitation of one of the parties. A waiter there would never, ever address patrons as “you guys”, for example. You would never have to establish the terms of interaction before getting on with things; you just assume that the formal conventions are in force. That may seem constrictive, but it’s actually quite freeing. It eliminates confusion and the potential for rubbing someone the wrong way.
I don’t have a problem with either “Ma’am” or “Miss” – I think they are polite, if old-fashioned, conventions. I do find it patronizing to be referred to as “Young lady” when it is quite obvious I am not.
@thorninmud I grew up with rules like that, I think they are still in play somewhat where I grew up. Someone older than us we always started with Ms. Lastname, and allowed them to say, “please call me firstname if they preferred it.” If they were strangers we would use Miss if we needed to get their attention when simply using a “excuse me” wasn’t working. A waiter might say, “thank you miss,” when we ordered, but Thank you is enough, isn’t it? If I was going to actually have a conversation with you and did not know your name I would introduce myself and you would offer your name, and now we use our names to address each other. If they are younger or same age you kind of gauge. Recently I moved and everyone who helped with the move through my husband’s company first addressed me as Mrs. Lastname, they know I am married and now I have my husband’s same name so I don’t find the Mrs. Presumptious in any way. I let them know they can call me J. Calling me Miss J is too informal without knowing what I prefer in that particular situation. What if I am 70 years old and prefer Mrs. lastname like my grandmother would have? She would have to correct someone to call her by her last name, which can be an uncomfortable request. A southern friend said that type of attitude would be taken as uppidity. Her words not mine.
Would the French call an adult stranger Mademoiselle firstname? I have no idea, I am just curious. I don’t know the custom there regarding that.
@KNOWITALL I realize that is what people who use it think. I am not questioning why they use it. But, again, for me it sounds like the old racist south. Especially if they have a southern accent, and even worse if it is a black person calling me Miss J. I do sometimes now hear it used in more northern places and it will always be odd to me. I know your are in the midwest, maybe it is actually a bible belt think more than a southern thing? I know when I lived in MI I didn’t hear it regularly, nor did I hear Ma’am. A woman I knew in Memphis said her SIL refused to teach his children to use it. I know he was from MI and was ex-military. I don’t know what I would do if I had children to be honest. Most likely I would teach them to do in Roma as the Romans, but maybe not.
@josie The military it is require to use Ma’am and Sir. I said in my first response that when I hear ma’am I think southern or military. I thought you were talking about a police officer. My dad was the equivalent of Captain in the Navy, but not in the armed forces, he was PHS. I doubt they ever used Sir or Ma’am in their offices. He would get caught of guard when someone saluted him. LOL. He wore his uniform as little as possible.
@JLeslie Many young French women are combatting the usage of the title “Mademoiselle” in the same way that young women in the United States fought against “miss” (and in some cases “Mrs”) as a title and adopted “Ms.”
@muppetish Miss firstname is a whole different thing. I guess maybe you are saying Mademoiselle is out of favor in any form, except maybe for very young ladies—teenagers. I just wonder if any other country uses Miss Firstname? I know I would never use it in Spanish, but maybe some Spanish speaking countries use it? To show respect it would usually be Señora, or Doña in some countries. Doña being even more formal and does imply a hierarchy
@JLeslie Here’s an article about it. Didn’t realize it was made official as it has been a while since I took a French course. The problem was that it enforced identification of women by their marital status, whereas men did not have an equivalent. I think there is a similar issue with “miss”, which is why many women fought against it.
I don’t know about other countries because my knowledge of other languages is limited. Most languages tend to be gendered, but not the words are not necessarily linked to marital status. (such as Japan: -san, -chan, -kun are related to gender, age, familiarity, but not marital status.
I do agree with you, though, that it should not be necessary to designate this in casual confrontations with people (such as your example of meeting in a restaurant.) I have never been one for manners though and grew up in a very relaxed household. Everyone in my family was “mommy”, “grandma”, “Aunt First Name”. Our teachers told us how to refer to them (some “Ms”, some “Mrs”). It was jarring to be assigned a title as I grew older because nobody had ever used them when speaking to me as a child or teen.
I was ecstatic when I took a course with a professor who told us not to call him “Mr. X” or “Sir X” (he did not have his PhD so he also insisted that we not call him Dr. or Professor.) It was my first encounter, in a professional environment, where somebody had said that. It almost seemed like it wasn’t allowed. I wish more people felt that way so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about rejecting the labels that others want to give me.
@muppetish I’m not sure we are communicating well. In the American south married women who are well into adulthood are called Miss Firstname. I do appreciate the link you provided though. I agree with what it says.
@KNOWITALL Because they learned English where you live. Even if they already knew English, they are using what is commonplace where they live now. That is my assumtpion anyway. I wonder if in Asian countries they use Miss Firstname? Luckyguy would know if they do in Japan.
@JLeslie What I meant is that mademoiselle as a title, as a whole, was removed from French vernacular. In many places, “Miss” has fallen out of favour in the US, but not completely (nor do we have as much control over the English language as France tries to control French.) In California, you will never here someone say Miss Firstname. They might say Miss, but not in reference toward someone whose name you already know (only to a stranger—and even that is relatively uncommon.)
I am not familiar with southern customs (someone else can shed light on that), but there has to be a historical/social reasoning behind why even married women are referred to by Miss Firstname.
@muppetish In France would they use Madam Firstname? That is more of what I am getting at.
I don’t know the historical reason, but if I had to guess it might be influence frim countries with royalty. Royalty is often addressed by their given or chosen first name with the formal address in front of it. Think Prince William. A lot of the southern saying can be traced back to English language usage in the UK. But, again, I am just guessing with the Miss Firstname bit in the south.
@ucme For whatever reason that answer of yours made me laugh out loud. Are you saying the only people who use Ma’am? Or, are you in on our secondary conversation regarding Miss Firstname? I guess Lady firstname is used for Royalty as well, not sure about the commonfolk?
@dxs What part of FL? If it is towards the north we all know that is basically GA and AL really. But, all of FL was the south at one point and remnants of it are everywhere except maybe southeast FL. I find it odd, but also I think it makes sense to have your tag say what you want to be called.
Clearwater here. There are touches of bible belt around, but nothing like being in the deep south. However in the black religious community those traditions might hold on, I don’t know. They are likely here since the biblebelt days of FL, while the rest of us are mostly northern and foreign transplants.
@JLeslie I’m from New England…I’m only here to study. I do see a lot of the stereotypical “deep south” qualities to certain parts of Tampa that I have seen from movies and things, such as those small, ranch-style houses with carports, a TON of Christian Churches and southern accents.
@dxs Hahahaha. Funny what stereotypes and observations you have made. When We moved to NC from Delray Beach my husband one day was looking through a newspaper and he looked up from it and said, “J, there is almost four pages of churches advertised in this thing, if we were back in FL it would be pages of nightclubs and strip joints.” LOL. Yeah, the Evangelicals seem to have a lots and lots of little churches, and then also a few mega huge churches about. New England has some very old small churches around too, but if there are a lot of Catholics, which some parts of New England have, there are more midsize churches and not one on every corner.
The houses with carports are everywhere, although I guess maybe garages were more common where it snows? I never thought about it. I grew up mostly in MD and we didn’t have a garage or carport on our townhouse. Garages were for people with money. I think the ameneties a house has usually mostly has to do with money, or how old the house is.
I dislike driving, so I ride my bike around town for small errands.
There are… ‘thinks’
Six churches within two miles of my house. One of which is a legit mega church, and another an enormous Methodist church, two Baptist churches a block apart, one Pentecostal, and one Spanish church of god.
And that’s without crossing a major intersection in any direction.
The Pentecostal church provides nothing. The one I live near now is affiliated with the same organization as my former church. They are there to assure that when you starve to death you go to heaven. That’s a quote.
The megachurch provides high profile funerals, for a price. They also put on an Independence Day festival every year that’s free and open to everyone. Other than that I never hear from them. They do have four baseball fields that are not open to the public, that I have never seen anyone play on.
One of the two Baptist churches has a daycare, but you have to attend at least one service there a month in order to be a customer.
There is a church in Tampa that has a food pantry. You have to attend a church service on Wednesday morning in order to receive a box of expired perishables. My husband has gone a few times, during particularly lean weeks.