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Friday, August 7, 2009

Ma'am? or Senator? Boxer boxes ears of General

At a Capitol Hill hearing a few weeks ago, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) laid the smack down on Brigadier General Michael Walsh. As I see it, when in the military, you are trained to say "sir" and "ma'am" as a matter of formal military respect. General Walsh was simply doing what military people do, and it is blatantly obvious he meant no DISrespect. Boxer was out of line, and rude. (Just a fact, Ma'am.) What do YOU think?


6 comments:

Local MLIS Student said...

So, she said, in what seemed to be a calm, but direct, tone: "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title. I'd appreciate it."

Who is that "boxing" his ears? (cute pun)

Seems she is correct that she has worked hard to earn the title senator, and would rather be addressed with that title, rather than the standard "ma'am".

Don't see any rudeness intended; just a polite request to be addressed by her official title. Which, by the way, he agreed to without complaint or hesitation.

Paige said...

She probably didn't NEED to say it, but I wouldn't say she was out of line. It just seemed a little unnecessary to bring it up at that point in the dialogue, since it likely embarrassed the General more than anything.

I had a prof in undergrad who told us that unless we were older than her or PhDs ourselves, we HAD to refer to her as Dr., and not by her first name. She was like, "I didn't spend 9 years in graduate school not to be called 'doctor'!"

Anonymous said...

This is more than a "few weeks" ago - this is from mid-June.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/06/23/_senator_embarrassment_d-calif___97126.html

I remember reading the above column back then (there was a bit of commentary at the time - few points from the aforementioned link:

"First, people in the military are taught to call their superiors "ma'am" and "sir." Thus, for example, a sergeant responding to a general will say, "Yes, sir," to a male general and, "Yes, ma'am," to a female general."
................................
"If a male senator had said that, he would rightly be regarded as insecure, narcissistic, arrogant, and juvenile. Which is precisely why no male senator would ever say such a thing: He would know that he would be the laughingstock of the U.S. Senate."
................................
"For example, every Obama press conference transcript I read included journalists calling President Obama "sir," as was true for previous presidents. Can one imagine President Obama halting the conference to announce that because he had worked hard to earn the title, he expects never to be called "sir," but only "president"? It is inconceivable. People would have thought he had lost his mind."

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

I think, Paige, I would say that your synopsis is what struck me most as being inappropriate in this circumstance. To interrupt this General mid-sentence seemed rude, unnecessary and, well, condescending.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Paige, I don't think I said that right. Your synopsis was appropriate, not inappropriate. The situations, itself, was inappropriate. Time for coffee. :-D

kellie said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with wishing to be defined by one's accomplishments rather than one's gender.

Also: timely post.