No Ma’am…


Do you see red when someone calls you Ma’am? I detest the title and cannot contain my reaction which is usually, “Seriously…Ma’am?!”

Recently, I was lunching at Casa Mono in NYC (fab food) with decorator and designer Elizabeth Polish…do yourself a favor and check out her website, Anyway, a rather tipsy, obnoxious businessman practically fell over Elizabeth’s chair and said, “Sorry, Ma’am!”

Neither of us are wallflowers and we simultaneously and spontaneously uttered, “Ma’am????!”  The ass moved on to lick the boots of a super chef eating next to us. The Ma’am man’s associate witnessed the encounter and stopped by to inquire why Ma’am was so offensive. He said he had previously called women, “Ma’am” and had been met with the same reaction.

We both felt the term was condescending and analogous to an older demographic which we do not represent (Elizabeth is younger than me, as well). Noticing his wedding band, I asked if his wife had an opinion. He confirmed that she disliked the salutation.

In fact, both my twenty-something daughter and my 93 year-old mother cringe at being called, “Ma’am”. One of the junior members of my US Open team grew up in the deep south and called us all Ma’am…I recoiled, asked her to cease and desist, but it was too deeply ingrained.

It is actually a contraction of Madam, first recorded in 1668 and used as a polite form of address, especially to older women. It is often spoken when addressing the Queen instead of using, Your Majesty. In current times, Ma’am has done a 180 and is often considered insulting.

queen elizabeth2
The One and Only Ma’am

So, men and women of the world, unless I become Queen or open a brothel and assume the role of Madam, please refrain from addressing me and most of the female population as Ma’am.

Thanks in advance for your polite consideration…

m'am buster

moving van
**Don’t Forget, The Devil is moving to:
November 9th…things will be hotter than ever!


  1. It was great to read this, I am a guide in Peru where our language is spanish and when we learn english we are told that ma’am is polite; I guide English speaking people (British, Americans and Australians) and this article will help me to treat my clients in the right way and I will tell my colleagues about this. Thanks..

  2. If a child under the age of 16 calls me ma’am, I appreciate their manners. If someone over the age of 16 calls me ma’am, I find it irritating.

  3. I’m in disbelief people don’t know how offensive “Ma’am” is. Thank you for this public service. I hope to get through my existence in this world without ever being referred to as such.

    • Your comment is very timely and appreciated. I was called “Ma’am” 5 times yesterday by both men and women. I had to really hold back from going postal. Good luck on getting through life without being referred to as “Ma’am!”

  4. While I agree that I do cringe a bit when being addressed as “Ma’am”, I am not sure what else someone should call a woman when they do not know her name and marital status. When you know said information you can address the woman as “Miss So-and-so” or “Mrs. So-and-so”. What would you suggest that people say instead–refer to all women, regardless of age and marital status, as “Miss”?

    What I find more offensive is when people refer to women, as “girls”, “lady”, and “female”–I especially hate it when people refer to a woman as a “female”–they use it as a noun instead of an adjective and it comes off sounding condescending; like they are objectifying women as a thing instead of a person.

    How you would rather be addressed–especially by a stranger that is trying to be polite?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *