Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Woman of a Certain Age: No Young Lady


Look.

The first few times a woman is called "ma'am," yes, it makes one wince. The transition from ingenue to mature woman is a little painful. But over time, one becomes accustomed to ma'am and even comes to appreciate the term for the respect it tenders.

But there is no justification for calling a woman over the age of 18 "young lady." Especially, especially if it comes from a man younger than the woman. There is no respect in this usage. Indeed, it infantilizes a grown woman. The act is particularly egregious when said in the workplace by one professional (in name only) to another. Yes, I've had that happen. (I've also had a CEO pull my hair playfully, as if I were a child, when I asked him a work-related question.)

To add insult to injury, I've found no way to express my dislike for this term without it resulting in blowback from the offender.

Some argue that they mean no harm. I'll accept that at face value; I'm sure they don't mean any harm. But intent is not relevant.

Just stop doing it.

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