So, as a young Air Force officer, one of my first really cool bosses was a captain who was a woman. In private, I called her by her first name, because that’s what officers in the AF generally do, but at work I called her captain or ma’am, of course.

And you know what? Ma’am felt weird to me. It didn’t feel respectful enough. I actually WANTED to call her something like sir, and ma’am didn’t seem to cut the mustard — emotionally.

I got over it. After a while, calling women officers ma’am just became a habit that I didn’t think about.

But I think my initial, youthful emotional response says something about your point. It says something about how we grow up learning not to value women as fully equal.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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