Do any of y’all get irritated at being called “Miss?”
I don’t mean on correspondence–these days pretty much everything comes addressed to “Ms. Sharper”, which is as it should be. I mean being called “Miss” by salespeople in stores, folks who approach you on the street, telemarketers, etc.
I don’t like “Miss.” Never have. It’s an outdated form of address that should only be used for little girls. If you’re an adult woman you should be called “Ma’am”, the way any adult man expects to be called “Mister.” I realize that according to the Patriarchy, I’m technically “Miss” because I’m not married. But even if that mattered–which it shouldn’t–the bus driver doesn’t know that, and neither does the salesman at Home Depot. And I’m sure the Verizon customer service rep I just talked to couldn’t tell my marital status when she said, “Look, Miss, I don’t know when the repairman can reconnect your phone.” Hell, she couldn’t even tell my age either.
Truth is, calling a grown woman “Miss” is a way of talking down to her. When I get called that, especially by older salespeople or the dudes at the corner bodega (“Psst! Hey, Miss!”), I feel like I’m being infantalized–which at least some of the time is exactly what’s intended.
I know some people default to “Miss” for everyone who doesn’t have gray hair and a cane, out of fear of offending a woman by implying that she’s–God forbid!–old. Some women probably prefer “Miss”, because, as we know, some women don’t want people to know how old they are and like being treated as though they’re still sweet young things in knee socks. But it’s ridiculous to think it’s somehow impolite to address a woman as though she’s an adult.
We’ve made good progress in getting rid of “Miss” in written communication. Now I want us to get rid of it in spoken communication as well. So please, just call me “Ma’am.”