I mean’t no offense, ma’am

Today, I learned that people take offense to being called “ma’am”. Serious. Offense.

I narrowed it down to women specifically from the Northeast and Midwest who claim, “when someone calls me ma’am, they’re either carding me – or think I’m a helpless old lady.”

I had to think back to my childhood. I was raised in the midwest and you know what? I don’t recall saying “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” to anyone other than maybe my teacher or grandparents. So there’s some validity to taking offense since it’s not part of the regional vernacular.

Down south, you’d be slapped across the back of the head for not “minding your sir’s and ma’ams”. (I’m guilty of doing this to my son when he talks back to Miss Tara.) Speaking of Miss Tara, you better prefix your friends parents, teachers, and anyone slightly older than you with a “Mr.” or “Miss”.  It’s just part of the dialog and is as southern as sweet tea.

Part of being a gentleman (and a decent human) is being respectful of others feelings, so I’ve made a mental note to “mind my sirs and ma’ams” with those who aren’t accustomed to hearing it.

I will end by saying, that I’ve spent half my life in both the midwest and the south; I think the world could use some more “sirs” and “ma’ams” and even more “mr’s and “miss’s”. Not only is it (very) polite, it’s also a sign of respect. Something this world could use a little bit more of.

Author: Greg Rickaby

Greg is Lead Front-End Developer at WebDevStudios and author of a children's book titled, Creating a Website: Design and Build Your First Site!.

4 thoughts on “I mean’t no offense, ma’am”

  1. Interesting observation to which I have also been privy to.
    Some responses are less than favorable, and this may be a misunderstanding due to modern views/upbringing.

    Holding doors for people often gets a “thank you” from older people, and respectful young folk.

    Hold the door for a younger person in New York City.

    They almost seem upset that some one would hold the door and force a courteous response in return.

    Not that there is an expectation on this end, I happen to find observing behavior entertaining.

  2. I agree! We need more ma’ams and sirs in this world! I am only thirty and I’ve had teenagers say yes ma’am or no ma’am to me even when I was in my twenties and I would think ” I’m not old they don’t have to say that” but they were just being respectful so I never corrected them and said you don’t have to call me that or whatever because I was happy they were just being respectful.

  3. I’ve heard and noticed the same thing. I grew up in Michigan and spent 25+ years in Florida and Texas. I now live in Connecticut. I call men ‘Sir’ (and I was not in the military). I figure if a woman gets upset when I call her ma’am, that’s her problem and not mine. I am not going to change my behavior because it might be offensive. It’s a compliment, Come down off that cross, build a bridge and get over it.

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