Ma’am is title you’d use for her mother

Ma’am is title you’d use for her mother


McClatchy-Tribune News Service


The following editorial appeared in the Sacramento Bee on Thursday, June 25:


Well, the outspoken, feisty Barbara Boxer has struck a nerve once again. Some people are making a big deal of her insistence that she be called by her title, “senator,” and not “ma’am,” a polite term to refer to any woman.

We were going to list here our “Top 10 Reasons Not to Call Barbara Boxer Ma’am.” But since Boxer herself repeatedly called then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “Madam Secretary” during a confrontation over the Iraq war in 2007, we are going to list only nine reasons to call her senator. They are:

9. Just remember her first congressional campaign slogan in 1982: “Barbara Boxer Gives a Damn.”

8. She was raised in Brooklyn and was a stockbroker on Wall Street. “Ma’am” is not in the lexicon in those parts.

7. Brooklynites take no guff. As Boxer has said, in Brooklyn “you learn how to take care of yourself.”

6. Don’t mess with someone who’s 4 feet, 11 inches tall. That applies to both Barbaras in the Senate: Boxer and Mikulski.

5. Take it from the late speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill. After he referred to “the men in Congress,” Boxer sent a letter asking him to refer to “men and women” in Congress. He complied.

4. She’s got a record on this stuff. She led a march of female members of Congress to the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, demanding a hearing of Anita Hill’s accusations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

3. She was elected to the Senate in the 1992 “Year of the Woman” election.

2. She’s got an elephant memory on hurdles women face in politics. To wit, when she ran for the Marin County Board of Supervisors in 1972, she was attacked for having two young children at home.

1. Military protocol calls for service members to refer to people by their rank or title.

The same protocol also adds, however, that “you can never go wrong by using ’sir’ or “ma’am.”’ The military may want to revisit that one.