The other day I was shopping, and feeling good about life--and then it happened. I was called 'Ma'am' (what a strange word anyway--look at it--it even looks strange in its construction!) One of the definitions states:
"an adult female person" (as opposed to a man?); "the woman kept house while the man hunted"---I haven't seen any male hunting going on around here for a long time--but a lot of keeping house still goes on...
I realise that for men the meaning might refer to --quote:
"a middle-aged or elderly woman who is stylish and highly respected, a term of respect"--but hey! We don't like it! My young daughter, who is just 18 was called Ma'am not long back. She commented on it to me---didn't like it! None of us do--whatever the age! Update your terminology please...otherwise I may start calling you 'Ol Guy' or 'Sir'...but then that might be considered a compliment!
My suggestion, drop the 'Ma'am' stuff. If you want to compliment us or wish us well, which I always assume is the intention, just say 'Thanks', or 'Have a great day' or anything--just don't age us and condemn us to another place in our heads, by including the word--"Ma'am". Drop the reference to lineage, age or sex...we know we are female---the world makes us extremely aware of that every day!
I am not usually overtly sexist in the male vs female thing--but I do resent the term 'Ma'am' --go figure---if it must be used, please don't use it around me.