Called ma’am…….

  • Creator
  • #86604
    Michelle Larsen

    I have been mulling over how to present this; or if I even should. You’ll see why at the end…

    Yesterday, my sons, my mother, and I went to the public library. They typically have a cart of books or something, that they are trying to sell to raise money right inside the door. Well, yesterday it was DVDs. So we found a few and I went up to pay for them. IN the process of the transaction the sales lady used the term “ma’am” when she was talking to me. I picked up on it, and just kept going with the flow. Finished the transaction, and went on inside.

    As I’m looking around, I started to think a bit. So, here I was, wearing a simple cotton, light, loosely form fitting t-shirt, skinny jeans, and my light pink tennis shoes. And other than my nails, not one bit of makeup on. My hair was brushed, but nothing other than this wiry hair. And I wasn’t even trying to effect my voice in any way.

    And still, she referred to me as “ma’am”. Now, I thinking; should I go back and thank her? Would any other woman thank someone for referring to them properly? Probably not. So I didn’t. In fact, I admonished myself for even thinking about this as anything at all.

    Why you may ask? Because, how am I to expect other’s to see and treat me as a woman, or female, when I am so wrapped up in worrying how other’s perceive me. “Act like you have some self confidence”, I say to myself.

    So that is exactly what I did, I acted like me. Not like someone other’s want me to act like, or someone I think other’s want me to act like. Just me! And on with life I went. On the way out I passed her again, and we said pleasant goodbyes to each other.

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  • Author
    • #91206
      DeeAnn Hopings

      I happened to see this thread again and it took me back several years ago when I was first addressed as female. It didn’t so much take me by surprise, but it was an indication that I was doing something right, or at least it wasn’t obvious that I was not AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth). That meant that I was somewhere in the Benefit of the Doubt range. That’s OK. I can live with that.

      Unfortunately the notion in society that we must address others by gender is not going to go away anytime soon. I’m guessing that it goes way, way back in our history. That also means that the concept is unlikely to dissipate quickly, even given the growing progressive thought processes and inclusion.

    • #90330

      Thanks for sharing! I am new to the site, but i loved reading this, and the replies. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to “look better” before i can go out, feeling the way i want to feel. I have been so afraid that, since i am so early into my journey, that if i put in my full effort and get called “sir” that i would be so simultaneously crushed and embarrassed that i just wouldn’t be able to handle it. I have always felt, i will never demand that someone who doesn’t know me reffer to me by the gendered pronouns that i would prefer, especially since gender fluidity can make it even more difficult to accurately represent someone. It would be nice if more people in society got more used to using gender neutral pronouns as the norm though.

      At any rate, your story helped me to feel a little more confident on how i may act in these situations. Just be me. It may still have some sting to it for me first starting out, but… i know i will be fine… right now, i am still so scared of ignorance that results in verbal altercation… or even scarier, physical. That is another topic i will look for on here.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #90018
      DeeAnn Hopings

      I alway wonder what people look at and draw their perceptions from. And, it obviously varies a lot from person to person.

      Los Angeles is about a 2 hour drive from our home. A couple of years ago my wife and I spent a weekend there to visit the Abilities Expo. It is a trade show for the disability community. About midday on the 1st day, my wife and I separated as I was hungry and there was a vendor that she wanted to find. To set the scene, I was dressed in a purple denim button front dress over a light purple tank, wide brim hat, jewelry, full makeup, wedge heels and quite noticeable breast forms. The woman who was serving the food, before I said anything,  addressed me as Sir. While I noted this, I didn’t react as I was too hungry. The next station was a cooler for drinks and last was the cashier station. When I got to the cashier, before I said a word, she said Afternoon Ma’ma. It had only been a few moments between these two interactions, so nothing changed for me, yet it was obvious their perceptions and interpretations were completely different. I could understand it if I looked androgynous, but that is never the case.

      Pre-virus I would leave home for meetings, events, errands, etc. 4 to 6 times per week and I was always nicely dressed. Further, if situations were reversed and if there was any question in my mind, I would not used gender-related pronouns. I would be as gender neutral as I could be as it is not my place to decide how someone perceives their gender.

      I would guess, on average, that I get mis-gendered 10% of the time; give or take. It would really be interesting to have a conversation with people, but unfortunately that won’t happen…

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #90000

      Hi, Michelle! I think what you’ve just described, proves that being a woman comes from within us.

      The makeup, cute clothes, and other things we so love to make part of our lives, enhances the outward beauty of who we are – but our real femininity and “being” as a woman comes from the depths of our minds, bodies and souls.

      It’s a special day when a man sees us for who we are, but truly an affirmation when it comes from another woman!

      Love Shawna

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