Why some women get upset when someone addresses them as 'Madam'

Why some women get upset when someone addresses them as 'Madam'

A sudden rainstorm. A traffic jam in the morning on your way to work. Remembering that you forgot to put on deodorant.

There are many things that can turn your day from good to bad. But there's one thing you probably haven't thought about yet.

It's an identity change when you realize that people look and you don't see as young anymore.

"I was shocked the first time they called me Madam," said a 23-year-old on Reddit. "I thought I wasn't old enough for the word yet."

How did Madam go from being a word of respect for some to polarizing for others?

Words like "Ma'am" are often used in customer service, but some women find the term confusing despite its respectful intentions.

There's actually no fixed age when a "miss" becomes a "madam," but women do take notice when they start hearing the change.

"Madam" is generally considered to be a polite term to address a woman, but depending on the region or context, it can mean the exact opposite.

It comes from the French word for "my lady" (ma dame).

"Madam" (or "lady" in French) is traditionally used to refer to a married woman and unmarried women were called "mademoiselle" meaning "young lady" - equivalent to "miss". The French government banned the word "mademoiselles" from official use in 2012. The decision was celebrated by feminists noting that men of all ages have only one label, "gentleman," so women should only have a neutral designation.

Today, when some women hear "ma'am," instead of imagining an elegant French lady, they picture a woman past her prime.

"You can't control how people see you, but you have the right to say how you'd like to be seen," said Wright, who notes that she's trying to use the word less after discovering that many get it. as offensive and not inclusive.

'Madam' has taken on new meanings

Historically, female youth is associated with all sorts of socially privileged attributes—beauty, fertility, and marriage.

When a woman is called "ma'am," even by a well-intentioned stranger, it can send a specific and unintended social message.