Calling a lady, ma’am.  So many reasons it’s not okay. So many reasons it is.

Oh yeah, I read the “four letter word” post from that HuffPost. It was one that caught my attention right away. Armed with my experience as a retail manager,  I was curious as to how this idea of  “when you use that term” would be handled in the post. Much to my disappointment, they took the easy way out and did one of these: “we took a survey of 100 women and got their opinion”. Lame.

They forgot to ask my opinion. I have an opinion based on when it should definitely NOT be used, and when you can call me ma’am.

*clears throat*

  • Please do call me “ma’am” if your background is from the South. I understand that is part of your up-bringing and it shows you paid attention to your Mom (or Dad) growing up. Well done.
  • Please do NOT call me “ma’am” if you are carding me for alcohol. It takes away my “They think I’m young! I’m sure it’s not because of store policy” high.
  • Please do call me “ma’am” if you are in the military. Let me thank you by referring to you by your rank. Seriously, thank you.
  • Please do NOT call me “ma’am” when you are:  asking to help me with my groceries, valeting my car, selling me something or just offering to lend a hand when I’m accompanied by my children. My kids make me feel old enough without you adding insult to injury.
  • Please do call me “ma’am” because you know me, get my sense of humor and understand I will ridicule you every chance I get.
  • Please do NOT call me “ma’am” in an email. Ever.

And now….

  • Please know that I will call you “ma’am” if you look like you could be my grandmother. I was taught (and it was confirmed after working for a major department store) that that is the only time that a woman would be responsive. Also, when I would like that woman to buy something. A salesperson who is interested in your money will call you “Miss”. Just watch.

Agree? Disagree? That’s cool. Tell me when you think it’s okay and when it’s not. HuffPost didn’t ask your opinion,  but I did. Because I care.



No need to filter unless there's coffee grounds and hot water involved.


  1. I can see where you are right on all of your points.

    However, I just see “ma’am” as a show of respect from either someone who is younger than me, or is in a position to serve me in some way and I really don’t mind it.

    • It does depend on the person. I know many who are fond of it. Me? It makes me feel older and lately I’m just so damned sensitive.

  2. I like it when young men call me Ma’am with a flirty question mark on the end of it. The suggestion alone makes me smile… well if I had smile lines… because… botox.

  3. I grew up in the Midwest ma’am is fine with me almost always. Since I have been married I have not been a Miss. So a sign of respect is Ma’am. I think only people who think it’s being used in a derogatory way are offended. Grow up your not 20 anymore… ? signed Ma’am

  4. I absolutely hate the word Ma’am, especially when the person calling me that knows what my name actually is. This person thinks that because I’m older than they are, that they’re being respectful. I told this person to just call me by my real name. Where I live I’m considered to be one of the younger people and the word Ma’am is just downright insulting.

  5. It just sounds like you’re a pretty bitter person to me, ma’am.

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