Have you ever entered an Uber / Lyft / Taxi and watched as the driver changes the genre of music playing to something noticeably different from what was playing when you got in?
I’m sure it’s happened before from time to time, but last week I just really took notice of it. After I’d gotten in the car, the driver changed the music. I immediately started thinking about it. Did he change the station based on the way I look and because he thinks this is the genre of music I’d like? Well, he was right, I enjoyed the new music, but it still felt kinda wrong to me. Anyway, I was singing along, in my head of course. I wouldn’t inflict my singing voice on anyone.
After a couple of songs played, an ad for the station comes on and says something to the effect of, “Hey this is X city’s classic hits station!” I’m like, what?! An oldies station?! One, since when are these tracks considered old? And two, is he playing this station because he thinks I’m old too?! I was seriously amused and mildly disturbed about this for a few minutes, okay, a few days, or maybe longer…. I laugh about things like this, but I’m noticing it more and thinking about it more. Thus the loop begins.
A couple of weeks ago, on two separate occasions, I had to interact with a couple of people who kept referring to me as ma’am. Just yesterday, a young cashier in the grocery store asked if I’d like to move over to her lane by calling out to me, “Ma’am!? Ma’am! I can take you over here!”. Ugh. The word makes me cringe.
I think the diagnosis is clear. I have a ma’am problem.
And I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one.
…[W]hereas a man remains “mister” and “sir” from nursery to nursing home, a woman’s honorifics change depending on her marital status and, barring that, her age. A young miss walks a few miles, and, wedding ring or no, wham, she’s a ma’am. For many women, then, the insertion of the word “ma’am” into an otherwise pleasant social exchange can feel like a tiny jab, an unnecessary station-break to comment on one’s appearance: Hello, middle-aged- to elderly-looking woman, how may I help you this evening? (The Politics of Polite | New York Times)
Calm down?! I can’t calm down! I won’t calm down! You calm down! Ma’am?! No ma’am! No ma’am! You’re the ma’am!! (Bonus points if you recognize what those lines were inspired by.)
“People who call me ‘ma’am’ suck. Because I still feel like a ‘miss’! And by saying ‘ma’am’ you’re insisting on aging me.” — (Stop Calling Me Ma’am | Mom.me)
Being called ma’am can make some us feel old and no longer desirable. It can instantly frumpify a woman. Yes, ‘frumpify’ is a word. I just declared it one.
I can’t help feeling more insulted than respected each time this four letter word, “ma’am” is hurled at me like an accusation of some vague crime I’d committed or something I’d been so careless as to lose, like my youth. (At What Point Did “Ma’am” Go From Polite To Insult? | Coffeelicious.com)
I know. I know. Ma’am is intended to be a polite term. But how about showing politeness through other actions / words instead of labels?
Maybe we just need a jazzier term. … Or how about nothing? Does nothing work for you? In my survey I posed a series of hypotheticals. For example: You’re at a restaurant with friends, and the waitress wants to warn you that your plate is hot. Would you prefer she say, “Careful, ma’am, that plate is very hot,” or, “Careful, miss,” or, “Careful, dear.” More than 80 percent of the respondents chose option number four: “Careful, that plate is very hot.” For one moment, a ma’am you’re not. (The Politics of Polite | New York Times)
Warning someone of a hot plate and using the word ‘careful’ is polite enough for me, thank you. Yeah. I’m an option 4 kind of woman. 🙂
Oh, and I humbly apologize to all the women I called ma’am when I was in my teens and twenties. Payback is a bitch.
Punch of the Week
I made a $1,087.89 payment / punch today for a total of $2807.89 in student loan payments this month. $48,400 is looking good, but I wish could be out of the 40’s and into the 30’s —- in more ways than one, it seems. Sigh….
Do you have a problem with being called Ma’am?
“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW Archives)