Real Cougars Hate Being Called Ma'am
Real Cougars those fabulous women over 40, hate being called ma'am and they are not alone. Women of all ages hate it equally as much. Last week I spoke with a 28-year old who just got her first dose of being called ma'am and she was devastated. I know it's supposed to be a respectful way to address a woman but why use it's so objectionable to the recipient?
Classes are now underway at Penn State University, and Judith Kroll, a professor of psychology, linguistics and women’s studies, will soon be greeting her undergraduate students with the usual brief spiel. “I get up and say, you can call me Dr. Kroll, or professor, or Judith if you like, but do not call me Mrs.,” she said. “I am not Mrs. Kroll. I kept my name when I got married and my husband kept his name.”
There is one other honorific that Dr. Kroll dislikes and that she dearly wishes she could bar from the classroom: ma’am. Whenever a student says, “Yes ma’am” or “Is that going to be on the test, ma’am?” Dr. Kroll says she cringes and feels weird. Yet because ma’am, unlike Mrs., isn’t factually incorrect, Dr. Kroll resists the urge to scold. “My first take has got to be, this person is just trying to be polite,” she sighed.
In Saturday's New York TImes, Pultizer winner Natalie Angier wrote a great article called "The Politics of Polite" and if you hate being called ma'am I suggest you read it.
Natalie reminds us that the message of respect is lost on many real-life powerful women, like Senator Barbara Boxer, who told a brigadier general to refer to her as “senator” rather than “ma’am” at a hearing last year. “I worked so hard to get that title,” she said, “so I’d appreciate it, yes, thank you.”
I hate the term so much I called by book Don't Ever Call Me Ma'am and women all over the world have chimed in to back me up. So far, I have not come up with a term that more accurately portrays all of fabulous females, but I'm working on it. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.