When did the word “Ma’am” become negative?

I was raised in a very religious home.  My siblings and I, all were required to say “Sir” and “Ma’am” when speaking to adults.  From then on it has been a habit, so even now I continue to use those words when referring to people, even when the individuals are younger than myself.  More often than not, most women, usually older then me and I’m 38, usually get offended when I refer to them as ma’am.  It’s not more common with white, black, or any specific race of women.  It happens with all types.  Once I explain to them how I was raised and that the word  is a word of respect, they always tell me that they know and understand but using the word in reference to them still makes them feel old. Even after a brief conversation, some women still say to just call them by their name, while others say it’s okay only because it is a habit of mine, but they can’t help but to feel uncomfortable.  I don’t get it, when did “ma’am” become so bad?   

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2 Responses to When did the word “Ma’am” become negative?

  1. reese2189 says:

    I’m only 24 and I actually like when people call me ma’am haha

  2. courtneyjdanko says:

    I think referring to someone as “sir or “ma’am” is very polite. I manage a business in Medina, and while I was there the other day, one of my employees helped a man and said your “your welcome sir, anytime”. The next customer was a woman whom she had helped, and she called her “ma’am”. My employee is only 18 and when I heard her referring to customers as this I was shocked. It sounded so polite and pleasant, I believe every customer made a comment to me on how respectful my employee is, and how much they like her.

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