PDA

View Full Version : Boxer chastises General for saying "Maam"


JonIrenicus
06-18-2009, 02:34 PM
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2009/06/17/boxer_asks_general_to_call_her_senator_and_not_maa m.html







.....








The restraint he showed there, just wow. If I was him I think I may have sacrificed my rank to lay into her Colonel Jessep style.

pampl
06-18-2009, 05:28 PM
I don't get why he'd have to restrain himself? There's nothing aggravating in that clip.

AemJeff
06-18-2009, 06:01 PM
I don't get why he'd have to restrain himself? There's nothing aggravating in that clip.

You mean you didn't get the memo? You're supposed to be outraged! OUTRAGED, man! I've already posted this link (http://www.redstate.com/erick/2009/06/17/senator-boxer-needs-to-put-on-some-big-girl-panties-and-suck-it-up/) once, but it's still my favorite example of hyperventilated fauxtrage on this particular topic.

Try harder, Jon.

uncle ebeneezer
06-18-2009, 06:21 PM
Something tells me if the situation were reversed and she was calling a high millitary official by his first name and he said "please refer to me as GENERAL so and so" the right would be cheering and she would still be the bad guy (girl.) For an organization that places a high value on shows of respect for achievement (sir, saluting etc., endless awareness of titles and hierarchy etc.) it's hard to see how this guy wouldn't understand her sentiment.

JonIrenicus
06-18-2009, 06:39 PM
You mean you didn't get the memo? You're supposed to be outraged! OUTRAGED, man! I've already posted this link (http://www.redstate.com/erick/2009/06/17/senator-boxer-needs-to-put-on-some-big-girl-panties-and-suck-it-up/) once, but it's still my favorite example of hyperventilated fauxtrage on this particular topic.

Try harder, Jon.

Outraged? no

But it's an obnoxious thing to say.


If a guy said it he would be called a whiny brat.


Guy: Uh, excuse me, call me Senator, not sir. (with annoyed sneer) I Earned that title so you will address me as such in the future, understood?


That was basically the spirit of the exchange. And it is without a doubt obnoxious. That is all it is, an obnoxious and insecure statement.

AemJeff
06-18-2009, 06:43 PM
Outraged? no

But it's an obnoxious thing to say.


If a guy said it he would be called a whiny brat.


Guy: Uh, excuse me, call me Senator, not sir. (with annoyed sneer) I Earned that title so you will address me as such in the future, understood?


That was basically the spirit of the exchange. And it is without a doubt obnoxious. That is all it is, an obnoxious and insecure statement.

Eb had it exactly right. If thye situation were reversed the General would have been completely justified in insisting on the use of his title. And I'm damn sure pipsqeaks like Mr. The Red would not be squawking.

claymisher
06-18-2009, 07:03 PM
Snooze.

uncle ebeneezer
06-18-2009, 07:08 PM
I don't think he was being deliberately rude or anything. Military people use Ma'am and Sir pretty often even when interacting with non-military people. But when you're in the Senate there's other standards to follow. Just like I might call a guy by his first name if we're playing volleyball, but on his military base I would understand why I should refer to him by his rank. Just like if I were responding to a judge, i would use "your honor."

There's also the fact that alot of women don't appreciate being called ma'am for reasons tied to their feminism. I'm not saying that that's justified, but it's to be expected. If I call a woman ma'am in public, I realize that there's a good chance that she might take issue with it.

Starwatcher162536
06-18-2009, 07:23 PM
This must be a difference that has arisen in out culture along geographical faults. I am from Texas, and calling women I do not know personally M'am is my default setting.

I even called this 9 year old girl M'am the other day :/.


I agree with you on this btw, its a non issue.

bjkeefe
06-18-2009, 07:47 PM
You mean you didn't get the memo? You're supposed to be outraged! OUTRAGED, man! I've already posted this link (http://www.redstate.com/erick/2009/06/17/senator-boxer-needs-to-put-on-some-big-girl-panties-and-suck-it-up/) once, but it's still my favorite example of hyperventilated fauxtrage on this particular topic.

Try harder, Jon.

Had to love that Erickson also couldn't resist adding homophobia to his misogyny. He remains as classless as ever, and as a matter of politics, he pretty much blew whatever credibility his complaint might have had.

My two cents on the issue itself:

-- Like Uncle Eb, it has been my experience that addressing a woman as "ma'am" carries a high probability of causing offense. I don't know where this comes from, and I wish it weren't so (because what do you say where you'd say "sir" to a man?), but that's just reality.

-- I am inclined to doubt that the general meant anything by it. Indeed, when I see military people testifying before Congress and they're addressing males, they often begin their answers, "Sir, ..." Same in many other situations -- when I was stationed on various military bases (as a civilian), I heard that all the time; e.g., "Sir, could you show me your ID?", "Sir, please park your vehicle in Lot C.", "Sir, the next test is scheduled to begin at 0600.", etc.

-- It's impossible to say from that clip whether Boxer thought she was being slighted in other ways by the general. For example, she may have felt he was being evasive or disrespectful in previous answers and this either came out as exasperation or was used as a way to slap him. It would also be interesting to find out if this general had been regularly saying "Senator" at the beginning of his sentences when speaking to male members of that panel.

-- I suspect Boxer used his title, regularly, when addressing him. If so, it's reasonable for her to ask for reciprocity.

In the end, no matter how dim a view you take of Boxer's request, she can't hold a candle to Liz Becton. Oops. I meant Elizabeth (http://www.politico.com/blogs/anneschroeder/0609/No_namecalling.html?showall). And yes, you must read the entire email exchange. (via (http://wonkette.com/409258/liz-becton-isthe-meanest-person-in-dc))

==========

[Added] I have to admit, I dislike being called "sir" by people whom I know are compelled to do so by their corporate overlords; e.g., cashiers, flight attendants, customer service reps. It makes me wish I had served in the Army and attained a certain rank so I could justifiably roar like other drill sergeants, "Don't call me 'sir,' dammit. I work for a living."

From Starwatcher, I am reminded that I like the way it sounds down South, where it's "ma'am" and "sir" all over the place. I wish the two terms were used in the same natural way elsewhere.

kezboard
06-18-2009, 08:12 PM
Yeah, I'm pretty much with Boxer on this one.

I definitely don't think any disrespect was meant on the general's part, particularly if he's from the South, where I know "ma'am" and "sir" are used more frequently. Apparently privates address female officers as "ma'am" in the military, also. But Boxer is totally within her rights to ask not be called "ma'am". The "I worked too hard to get that title" part may have been a bit snarky, but as a woman who doesn't even have a claim to any other titles, I hate being called "ma'am". There's something dismissive and condescending about it. Ugh. I just really don't like it.

uncle ebeneezer
06-18-2009, 08:16 PM
[Added] I have to admit, I dislike being called "sir" by people whom I know are compelled to do so by their corporate overlords; e.g., cashiers, flight attendants, customer service reps.

Not to mention, if the person saying it is older and black, it feels really creepy (for obvious historical reasons) even when I know they're just doing their job or being courteous.

popcorn_karate
06-18-2009, 08:21 PM
she was actually pretty calm and respectful in making her request. a little prickly of her? sure, but that is about it.

as others said - snooze. no issue here as far as i can tell.

bjkeefe
06-18-2009, 08:25 PM
Not to mention, if the person saying it is older and black, it feels really creepy (for obvious historical reasons) even when I know they're just doing their job or being courteous.

Huh. I never even thought about that. Good point.

bjkeefe
06-18-2009, 08:29 PM
... as a woman who doesn't even have a claim to any other titles, I hate being called "ma'am". There's something dismissive and condescending about it. Ugh. I just really don't like it.

kez -- Is there any generic term that could be used, to your taste, in those situations where some sort of salutation feels necessary, when the speaker doesn't know your name? I'm thinking of, say, where someone is trying to get your attention, as in coming up behind you and saying, "Ma'am, you forgot your change." Should one just always shoehorn in something like "Excuse me" in its place?

As "sir" can be mildly unpleasant in similar ways, one often resorts to options like "Hey, man" or "Hey, buddy" to get a man's attention in such situations, and I can't think of an equivalent for women.

I have been told by more than a few women that they'd even prefer "Miss" to "Ma'am" in this situation, which really amazed me. Is this something you share, or have heard other women express?

Just curious.

Lyle
06-18-2009, 11:37 PM
What an asshole Senator Boxer is.

pampl
06-19-2009, 12:54 AM
At the time I thought that moveon "General Betray-us" ad was stupid but if people can actually get worked up about a senator asking a general to use her formal title then obviously we need more ads like that to give some people a sense of perspective

kezboard
06-19-2009, 02:25 AM
I'm not really sure. I wouldn't get offended if someone were to say to me "Ma'am, you forgot your change" by any means -- I think that's quite different from the situation with Boxer -- but I still don't like it. I don't have any female equivalent for "man" or "buddy", although that would be nice. This is weird, but I actually find "miss" slightly less irritating than "ma'am". I guess it sounds just as condescending but just a skosh less servile.

I think the problem isn't the specific word but this sort of forced formality. (Right now I'm speaking about everyday life, not proceedings in the US Senate.) I don't have a problem with titles per se, I have a problem with the context in which they're used. In the Czech Republic I'm called "paní" or "slečno" (essentially the equivalents of "ma'am" and "miss" -- paní is a little more politically correct, as it doesn't have that connotation of "I see you're a young woman, so you must be unmarried", but it isn't that big of a deal) all the time, and I don't mind it at all, because Central Europeans have a mania for titles. Over here, though, as far as I can tell, they're only ever used in very formal contexts (like in the US Senate), when someone's forced to by their corporate overlords, or when someone's trying to tell you off, condescend, or be rude to you.

I'm sure it's a generational and regional thing. I realize that for some people they really do indicate politeness, but that's just not the vibe I get from being called "ma'am" or "miss".

I bet that Boxer got the feeling that the respect she was getting from the general was a chivalrous kind, as opposed to a "I respect you as a US Senator" kind, so again, I'm totally behind her on this one.

bjkeefe
06-19-2009, 02:37 AM
[...]

Thanks, for both the female and Czech perspectives.

JonIrenicus
06-19-2009, 02:44 AM
I'm not really sure. I wouldn't get offended if someone were to say to me "Ma'am, you forgot your change" by any means -- I think that's quite different from the situation with Boxer -- but I still don't like it. I don't have any female equivalent for "man" or "buddy", although that would be nice. This is weird, but I actually find "miss" slightly less irritating than "ma'am". I guess it sounds just as condescending but just a skosh less servile.

I think the problem isn't the specific word but this sort of forced formality. (Right now I'm speaking about everyday life, not proceedings in the US Senate.) I don't have a problem with titles per se, I have a problem with the context in which they're used. In the Czech Republic I'm called "paní" or "slečno" (essentially the equivalents of "ma'am" and "miss" -- paní is a little more politically correct, as it doesn't have that connotation of "I see you're a young woman, so you must be unmarried", but it isn't that big of a deal) all the time, and I don't mind it at all, because Central Europeans have a mania for titles. Over here, though, as far as I can tell, they're only ever used in very formal contexts (like in the US Senate), when someone's forced to by their corporate overlords, or when someone's trying to tell you off, condescend, or be rude to you.

I'm sure it's a generational and regional thing. I realize that for some people they really do indicate politeness, but that's just not the vibe I get from being called "ma'am" or "miss".

I bet that Boxer got the feeling that the respect she was getting from the general was a chivalrous kind, as opposed to a "I respect you as a US Senator" kind, so again, I'm totally behind her on this one.


Good lord, look at all the egg shells you have to watch out for to interact with some people and not get your head bitten off for. This is the same type of attitude that caused that woman in the Audience of Larry Summers to get pissy when he mentioned a potential difference in the brains of men and women (which is true btw, in the averages).

I get that some people want to be titled certain things, but when the person you are talking to clearly meant no disrespect by his address, how about we cut back the snark.

Incidentally, from now on, I only want to be referred to as your excellency. No more Jons or Irenicus, or, because I am more flexible than Empress Boxer, a simple Lord Jon will do.

bjkeefe
06-19-2009, 02:51 AM
Good lord, look at all the egg shells you have to watch out for to interact with some people and not get your head bitten off for. This is the same type of attitude that caused that woman in the Audience of Larry Summers to get pissy when he mentioned a potential difference in the brains of men and women (which is true btw, in the averages).

I get that some people want to be titled certain things, but when the person you are talking to clearly meant no disrespect by his address, how about we cut back the snark.

Incidentally, from now on, I only want to be referred to as your excellency. No more Jons or Irenicus, or, because I am more flexible than Empress Boxer, a simple Lord Jon will do.

As soon as you earn that title, I'll be happy to comply.

Until then, I can think of a few other things I might call you.

graz
06-19-2009, 08:46 AM
I bet that Boxer got the feeling that the respect she was getting from the general was a chivalrous kind, as opposed to a "I respect you as a US Senator" kind, so again, I'm totally behind her on this one.

Exactly. And with all due respect to military training and service, that chivalry is a byproduct of the culture which fosters this ingrained attitude in officers. That same culture is responsible for the resistance to acceptance of fellow soldiers as gay or different. That ma'am is no little thing at all, but a charged incindiery, rightfully defused by Senator Boxer. Does chivalry deserve to die. Well that would be a whole other question. Let me pose it Irenicus-style:


Chivalry-






/?

popcorn_karate
06-19-2009, 01:07 PM
no.

I look out for women, children and old people. Its a duty and an honor to do so, and I teach my son to do the same.

You just have to be low key when your being chivalrous towards women - kids and old folks generally appreciate it.

stephanie
06-19-2009, 06:20 PM
I'm sure it's a generational and regional thing. I realize that for some people they really do indicate politeness, but that's just not the vibe I get from being called "ma'am" or "miss".

Yeah, I mostly agree. I get it (and have used it or "sir" at times in the way bjk mentions) in an innocuous way and certainly don't get upset or say anything about it, but I don't care for it either. And pretty unanimously among the non-southern women I know, it's disliked.

I once got into a weird argument with a southerner who insisted that she was raised better than northerners, because they were taught to "ma'am" and "sir" people. My reaction was that if it's an address that you know is not only not preferred, but actively disliked, by a good portion of the people on whom you use it, how is it polite?

But it's not like a big thing for me, just a funny regional difference. I haven't watched the linked video, so have no opinion on whether I think Boxer was being unjustifiably pissy or if you can or can't tell from what's there.

stephanie
06-19-2009, 06:29 PM
I get that some people want to be titled certain things, but when the person you are talking to clearly meant no disrespect by his address, how about we cut back the snark.

Incidentally, from now on, I only want to be referred to as your excellency. No more Jons or Irenicus, or, because I am more flexible than Empress Boxer, a simple Lord Jon will do.

CJ Rehnquist was notorious for slamming people (often nervous lawyers arguing for the first time in the SC) who called him "judge" rather than "chief justice." I wonder if Erickson found that horribly offensive and worth ranting about? Somehow I doubt it (and for the record I have no problem at all with judges or justices insisting upon their correct titles).

An acquaintance of mine tells a story about observing a SC argument where one of the lawyers was nervous about not calling Rehnquist by the wrong title. It backfired* when during the argument he began the answer to a question asked by Rehnquist with "your majesty." Rehnquist apparently broke in saying: "'your honor' or 'chief justice' will be sufficient, thank you."

*Well, maybe. I don't know what the case was or how it came out, but maybe he got some extra points.

nikkibong
06-19-2009, 08:21 PM
Does anyone know if the General was calling the male senators "Senator," in contrast to Senator "M'am" Boxer?

If so, she definitely has a point.

kezboard
06-20-2009, 05:12 AM
Oh, give me a break. Nobody, least of all me, would bite anyone's head off for using the word "ma'am" when it was clearly meant with good intentions. But I have no problem biting anyone's head off when they start down the "Women are getting so uppity these days -- just look at what happened to Larry Summers" road. Summers mused that men may be better than women at science because we supposedly think more "relationally", because his daughter gave genders and familial relationships to her toy trucks. This is the worst sort of vulgar evo-psych and it discredits the actual legitimate research people are doing on gender and sex differences. He was talking to an entire room full of accomplished women who had undoubtedly heard this kind of thing for decades from their male coworkers and were really not interested in it being presented as supposedly provocative and original material from the dean.

I don't think Summers deserved to lose his position over this. But he didn't actually lose his position over it, so there we go.

Anyway, "this attitude"? The attitude that some women get from being reminded all the time that even though they might be senators, professors, or scientists, at the end of the day, none of that matters, because they're really just women? Yes, I'm sure it's very painful for men to occasionally be on the receiving end of a snippy comment. I have a bigger problem, though, with the attitude that whenever a woman demands respect from a man because of her actual accomplishments, she's being a bitch and the reasonable response from the man is to get all affronted and call the PC police, rather than just say "Okay, Senator". (Which is, in fact, what the general did.)

Lyle
06-20-2009, 05:56 AM
How would a southerner know they were offending you if they're not from where you're from?

I'm with southerners on this. When children only call adults by their first name, not appropriate in my opinion. I'd rather us become more Asian and show respect to older people than become a totally youth centered culture.

Boxer was obnoxious because the general clearly did not mean to offend. It was not a put down on his part. Her response speaks volumes about her personal character.

JonIrenicus
06-20-2009, 06:59 AM
Oh, give me a break. Nobody, least of all me, would bite anyone's head off for using the word "ma'am" when it was clearly meant with good intentions. But I have no problem biting anyone's head off when they start down the "Women are getting so uppity these days -- just look at what happened to Larry Summers" road. Summers mused that men may be better than women at science because we supposedly think more "relationally", because his daughter gave genders and familial relationships to her toy trucks. This is the worst sort of vulgar evo-psych and it discredits the actual legitimate research people are doing on gender and sex differences. He was talking to an entire room full of accomplished women who had undoubtedly heard this kind of thing for decades from their male coworkers and were really not interested in it being presented as supposedly provocative and original material from the dean.

I don't think Summers deserved to lose his position over this. But he didn't actually lose his position over it, so there we go.

Anyway, "this attitude"? The attitude that some women get from being reminded all the time that even though they might be senators, professors, or scientists, at the end of the day, none of that matters, because they're really just women? Yes, I'm sure it's very painful for men to occasionally be on the receiving end of a snippy comment. I have a bigger problem, though, with the attitude that whenever a woman demands respect from a man because of her actual accomplishments, she's being a bitch and the reasonable response from the man is to get all affronted and call the PC police, rather than just say "Okay, Senator". (Which is, in fact, what the general did.)

And the egg shells multiply. You are under the impression a snippy comment from a man is less annoying to me, it is not, unless it was some deserved retort. The Renquist example given earlier fits that bill if true. Though it is less common so it does stand out more. I think this is a case of chip shouldered feminists seeing a struggle in every corner.

On the Summers issue, that is not a good example for your case, at all. And the reaction that woman in the crowd had said more about her self esteem issues than anything Summers said, which was essentially true. The details are not what bothered people there, that is a lie if told, what bothered people was the suggestions of innate differences between men and women in terms of aptitude as a potential explanation of SOME of the differences in numbers of tenured female scientists.

If it turns out that the intelligence distribution in certain areas of women is less volatile that means there are fewer women at the high end of the spectrum, and at the same time, fewer women at the low end of the spectrum (really dumb, where men have a MUCH higher chance of being).

I don't give a damn how this makes anyone feel, if it is true it is true, and if it's not, then it's not.

If what you take from that is that one is saying women are inferior to men, you FAIL at basic logic.

If what you take from that is that women are not as smart as men, again, you FAIL at basic logic.

The implication of such a reality if the distributions are correct is that the average aptitude of women in certain areas is less volatile, so while there would be fewer women at the extreme low ends of the scale, there would also be fewer women at the extreme high ends of the scale.


No women on the high end?!? No, if anyone took that from that statement, they are not working on all cylinders. There are still innumerable women that mentally dwarf the vast majority of the population in raw aptitude, including the vast majority of men. Again, the implication is not that there aren't any, but that there aren't as many expected.

Any time I hear someone saying in response to That controversy something to the effect of "Women are JUST as intelligent and capable and etc etc" it tells me they have NO idea what they are talking about as their response completely misses the mark and blazes for all to see their complete lack of understanding of the point made.

graz
06-20-2009, 10:04 AM
Hey Yoda: Basic logic you use to failing point.

Chip shouldered feminist equal to mind-reading commenter who not know place from which senator came.

Basic point missed by emotional reaction you had. Big boy officer and Big girl senator not lose sleep over decorum issue. Why nose bent out of shape by you?

kezboard
06-20-2009, 05:26 PM
If it turns out that the intelligence distribution in certain areas of women is less volatile that means there are fewer women at the high end of the spectrum, and at the same time, fewer women at the low end of the spectrum (really dumb, where men have a MUCH higher chance of being).

I don't give a damn how this makes anyone feel, if it is true it is true, and if it's not, then it's not.

If what you take from that is that one is saying women are inferior to men, you FAIL at basic logic.

If what you take from that is that women are not as smart as men, again, you FAIL at basic logic.

The implication of such a reality if the distributions are correct is that the average aptitude of women in certain areas is less volatile, so while there would be fewer women at the extreme low ends of the scale, there would also be fewer women at the extreme high ends of the scale.

Yeah yeah yeah.
This hypothesis may very well be proven true, and if so, I have no problem with it. I don't have a problem with it being presented as a hypothesis, either. The problem is that Larry Summers presented it in a very stupid way, talking about how women on kibbutzes in Israel naturally gravitated away from fixing tractors and how his daughter gave her toy trucks names and extrapolating that to say that discrimination and socialization aren't adequate to explain why there aren't more women in science. When other people suggested that the results from other universities and settings might contradict him, he basically dismissed them.

Nancy Hopkins is a biologist at MIT (http://web.mit.edu/ki/faculty/hopkins.html). I doubt her personal insecurities contributed to her reaction in this case. I think she was irritated that an economist was trying to give a lecture on biology without using any evidence, and that again she and her colleagues were being presented with just-so stories that were apparently being served up just for the purpose of showing how their work against discrimination in universities is useless.

I don't get how this isn't exactly like the Rehnquist example presented earlier. "Chief Justice" is a somewhat higher-status title than just "Justice", but "Senator" is way higher-status than "ma'am", so wasn't Rehnquist being even more pretentious than Boxer when he badgered the lawyers? Not to mention those four gold stripes. Maybe pretentious, but totally harmless, and besides he's an old guy and his accomplishments speak for themselves, so everyone gave Rehnquist a pass. This will probably put me into the category of chip-shouldered feminist, if I'm not there already, but I'm thinking that Boxer's not getting a pass because she's a woman. (Well, or else because she's a liberal. I would feel exactly the same if Sarah Palin asked someone to call her "Governor" instead of "ma'am", but would Erick Erickson?)

stephanie
06-20-2009, 06:59 PM
How would a southerner know they were offending you if they're not from where you're from?

Within the context of the discussion it was accepted that some people find it an unpleasant way of being addressed and some don't. The argument was that it is inherently more polite to use it and impolite not to, independent on people's reactions, which among other things ignores cultural norms in the US, at least in much of the north.

I'm with southerners on this. When children only call adults by their first name, not appropriate in my opinion. I'd rather us become more Asian and show respect to older people than become a totally youth centered culture.

I don't know where the youth/age thing comes into it. That's a different issue. I don't have any blanket objection to using terms of respect (as I said in my other post), but the fact is that what is respectful or polite depends upon the particular cultural norms operating, it's not something set in stone, and the bottom line comes down to whether you are really trying to show respect and consider the feelings of the people you are interacting with. That depends on a lot of things other than the terms themselves, including (again) what the social norms are. (Again, I haven't watched the video, so don't know if it showed enough to answer this question as to the particular situation either way, such as how the General was addressing others or the overall sense of the interaction. I just can't care enough about whether Boxer or the General was rude to do so.)

Plus, it's just silly to claim that Germans, say, are more polite than Americans simply because they are less inclined to first name people they barely know. It's just a difference in cultural norms. So a southerner to use something dumb like the ma'am and sir thing to claim to be more polite than northerners (as in this silly discussion) in the north, operating under the specific cultural norms present in the north, is similarly ridiculous. More formal, maybe, although that depends on a variety of other things, too.