Barbara Boxer schools general in sexism

Oh my. This is a great short video. Now, I feel a bit sorry for the general, because he may call all men “sir” and all women “ma’am.” I don’t per se find any problem with that. But still. I suspect women like Senator Boxer have been on the receiving end of sexist treatment for decades, so they know it when they see it. But damn, watch her in action. I wish our other Senators, and president, could find that kind of testicular fortitude in general.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT9YA-xCihk]


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Surf

    Dear Ms. Boxer, please get your act togeather, and please put the toilet lid down when your finished.

    One thing you did was entertain Queen Nancy of Napa & Money person Barney from Urainus.

  • Name

    Totally uncalled for….clearly a need to demand respect because it has not been earned by this small-minded individual

  • threadmonitor

    We moderators welcome specific notice about disruptive commenters. We will determine appropriate actions against such people, but we appreciate a heads-up to something or someone we may have missed.

    In this case, we have noticed and this troll is now banned.

  • rayanthony

    There is clearly an individual on this blog who enjoys the thrill of irrational incitement of others who are sincerely commenting about the Bozo Boxer “thing.” I suggest that the person get a job, get a dog and, most certainly get a life! Don’t rile others up because you get the jollies from it.

    Be a man!

  • soldier16

    One more thing, I have no idea where you learned that, but and good superior would not not humiliate their subordinates. Thats a good way to lose respect quickly. A good leader earns the respect of their subordinates so that they will work harder for them. As I said, if the good Senator will disrespect a General than what stops here from disrespecting the people. Food for thought.

  • soldier16

    OK I am new to the site and this caught my eye because I am a soldier. I think that what the Senator did the General was uncalled for. If she had such a problem with the way he was addressing her she could have waited until they were done and pulled him aside and told him that she preferred to be called Senator. It was unprofessional and demeaning. Now, I know nothing of this General except for one thing. He is a General. He has served a long career to help protect the freedoms of this country and I think that that warrants some respect or at the very least some common courtesy. Senators are not in charge. Not as a single Senator any way. They are elected for us, the people, to represent us. Now if I am not mistake that also includes the General who ironically enough is also from California. If the Senator is that sensitive and cannot handle being called maam then maybe she needs to find another job where she can get a little more respect. I am honestly disappointed and disgusted with her behavior. I hope that she either apoligizes for her comment or finds another job. If she would disrespect a General than what is to stop her from disrespecting your average hard working citizen.

  • fathertime_read_this

    I always enjoy reading pages of blog to see who intentionally stirs the pot. In this case, it’s Father Time. I think he writes his incendiary text just to get a rise out of the rest, because I can’t believe anyone is really that stupid.

    If he’s serious, then Father Time has learned all he knows about the military from old 1980’s Stephen Cannell TV shows.

    To clarify for the rest who might not know that Father Time is spinning the truth a little…

    Military citizens are not below anyone else. They follow the same laws as everyone else PLUS extra standards in their warfighting profession. Military personnel get to vote, protest, and participate like every other citizen.

    “Sir” or “Ma’am” in military speak is a sign of respect. It isn’t sexist. It isn’t a slight. It isn’t lazy. In fact, if a subordinate does NOT respect a higher ranking member, they will avoid calling them sir or ma’am and will instead call them by their title or rank. In the case with Senator Boxer, the general was wrong to call her “ma’am”…not because “senator” is a title she earned, but because she clearly does not merit one’s respect.

    Father Time talks of humiliation and privilege. He’s right that Senator Boxer CAN stomp on the general in front of the world like that. Father Time completely misses the point, however, that just because someone CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something. Her attack was ignorant and petty. If Senator Boxer is supposedly tuned to sexism given her age and experience, then she completely missed the mark.

    Father Time is also correct that the general could humiliate a private in the same manner. Of course, no general is going to humiliate a subordinate for calling him sir or ma’am, but, yes, Father Time is right, they could if they wanted to. If they do, everyone will have exactly the same opinion as we do of Senator Boxer–it’s a rude, unprofessional, powertrip. Contrary to what somebody wrote below, “sir” is more respectful than “general”.

    Father Time vomits more blah, blah information about government, the Constitution, etc. All irrelevant. He obviously has a TV knowledge of certain types of authority, but no actual real world understanding of how that authority is actually applied.

    The bottom line here is Senator Boxer was completely and totally rude. One form of respect wasn’t enough for her. In addition to bringing her grapes she wants you to peel them too. She demonstrated she has power and is happy to abuse it. Father Time says she’s backed by 20 million constituents–as if that has anything to do with anything. Does that somehow make her actions right?

    Side note: calling President Obama “sir” is perfectly acceptable. It is a sign of respect.

    Other side note: some Father Time fan below wrote it was great Senator Boxer “stood up” to the military. That is similarly ignorant. Congress and the Senate hold the purse strings and almost NEVER listen to what the military actually wants or needs. They listen instead to the voters in their states and continue purchasing equipment and platforms the military doesn’t need…because it keeps their voters employed. Father Time is correct that, yes, if something like 100 politicians are killed or otherwise incapacitated then, yes, somewhere on the list Senator Boxer would become the military’s commander-in-chief. What he didn’t mention is until that happens, Senator Boxer is ABSOLUTEY nowhere in the military chain of command.

  • http://www.businesslawpc.com/ eye on the law

    Vote on whether or not you think that Senator Boxer was rude to the General at:

    http://www.eyeonthelaw.blogspot.com/

  • ShirleyGoodnessanMercy

    I have spent many years in the life of a military family… until our “military hero” left his wife for a young bimbo. So don’t pretend all military people are saints. And I have done a thousand times more for my country than some “military heroes” have. Don’t insult people you don’t know. It makes you look foolish.

  • ShirleyGoodnessanMercy

    You underestimate the significance of a Senator’s office being beautiful and human in design. It shows that she will not cower to the pressure to make her office yet another museum of pointless patriotic paraphernalia like every other senator does. It shows her to have a mind of her own, and it show her to be more concerned with PEOPLE than with creating some phoney baloney image. This makes her the most truly American senator of all to me. If you visited the senate office buildings you would see what I mean. Each office is an endless sea of eagles, flags, insignias, seals, military statues and other ridiculous stuff which would make our founding fathers throw up.

  • ShirleyGoodnessanMercy

    The military serves at the discretion of the government, which is elected by the people. The military is not elected. However, she was wrong to correct him.

  • madamboxer

    Having a colorful office makes a good senator? This logic must be why men still dominate the senate

  • madamboxer

    How do you respect someone who is condescending to someone who doesn’t deserve it. This is not feminism, this only shows men as superior to women if women feel they have to belittle them. Belittling people shows you feel inferior.

  • madamboxer

    He doesn’t have to submit to her. She is a senator, not royalty. As much as you liberals love to have the government tell you what to do, most people with brains and heart love freedom and follow the constitution, which gives rights to the people.

  • Father_Time

    A Senator does not have to be polite to a general, just as a general does not have to be polite to a private.

    If a general told a private to address him as tweedledum you would understand his authority to do so even if the private is not in the general’s command. It is the same for a Senator over a general, even though the general is not dirrectly under the Senator’s command. The Senator outranks the general and is YOUR representative. Therfore the Senator’s constituency as a whole outranks the general!

    A Senator is only answerable to that Senator’s constituency and the law of the land.

    A general is answerable to many, including the Senate!

  • Father_Time

    As a whole the military is lower than the people. Individually they are the same to a point, but they have given up some rights by agreeing to a legal obligation that if they break it will put them in jail. As well, in uniform they must conduct themselves according to laws citizens do not have to obey and remain free from. Citizens cannot arbitrarily order around military people except through their local state and federal governments according to law. However unless martial law is declared, the military even as a whole, cannot order around a single citizen. It is simply illegal based on the Constitution.

    A Senator is in a line of succession of leadership that begins with the president. Not being currently “in command” a Senator is DEFIANTLY above the military.

    Its not “discipline” that has to be “shown” its discipline that must be Obeyed!

    You should note that a president’s Press Secretary holds the equivalent rank of Lieutenant General, and, receives that level of respect from the military but is not in command of troops. A Senator is WAY above a Press Secretary.

    However what we are talking about here is ritual. The law is paramount but the ritual makes the law unnecessary. The law says that civilians are in charge of OUR military always, the ritual says that that is the way the military likes it!

  • brianke

    The military serves but they are NO LOWER in status than you. In addition to holding the same civilian status as you, the military must abide by other rules, the Code of Conduct. They are a set of military rules, in addition to the civilian laws.

    The Commander-In-Chief is President Obama, not Senator Boxer. There’s even a military court that is separate from that.

    There’s a whole set of rules and chain of command that the military must show discipline toward. But they are no where near below you.

  • Sir. Sir. Ma’am.

    You are mistaken.

  • Dr. Steve

    DR. Jen. Whether or not a more gender neutral term would have been better in that situation or any other is irrelevant. This is a General in uniform following to the letter the conduct expected of him as per military SOP. The military does not understand “sex-derived categories”. “Sir” and “Ma’am” are both appropriate forms when addressing someone above you. If one wishes to change the military standards, fine. But the argument for this entire thread, that the General was being sexist, is baseless.

  • wrong

    No. In exchanges with male senators he addressed them as “sir”.

  • Um…no

    “Sir” and “Ma’am” ARE both terms which denote recognition of rank. Such as “yes sir!” and “yes ma’am!” That is the whole point. It is military SOP. Get in on the real debate or stop posting comments that only cloud the issue.

  • blueollie

    Question: did the General call the males “Senator” and not her? If so, she did the right thing.

    In any event, she seemed to be polite but IMHO, a bit overly picky to be politically astute.

    BTW, I agree that Senator Boxer probably encountered sexism in her life, but frequently, what women her age “know” to be sexism really isn’t.

  • http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu RhymesWithRight

    Ma’am, like sir, is considered a respectful form of address in polite society. Heck, even my high school students, 95% minority from the lowest of socio-economic strata, recognize as much and use the term towards teachers and their mothers.

    Maybe i can send some of my kids to school her on that one.

  • Father_Time

    Let me repost this just for you in the hopes that you receive it via email.

    Of course we love our military. Its a ritual; a general humiliates a colonel, a colonel humiliates a captain, a captain humiliates a lieutenant, a lieutenant humiliates a sergeant a sergeant humiliates a private. The lesser rank stands erect before the higher appointed over him or her ready to do that superior’s bidding immediately and smartly. That is how our military as a whole, or, individually, stands before our people as represented by our elected leaders. Submissive as a private before a general. This is WHY we love and trust our military. Not fear it.

    It is the mark of a free state that a civilian is not below the private as in a totalitarian state, but above the general. In our system the people have delegated the administration of our “inalienable rights” to an elected government of representatives who’s office remain permanently above all military and police.

    It is true that you can address a female Senator as Ma’am, but the Senator prefers the title Senator and the ritual says that the inferior will address the superior as he or she wishes!

    I am PROUD of the general for understanding and following the ritual by placing himself symbolically prostrate before my Senator instantly without the slightest hesitation.

    AND

    I am proud of the Senator for giving him the public opportunity to display his loyalty to me, the citizen, through her my elected representative.

    I can’t believe you missed all that. The ritual is very, very important because it is in the spirit of this ritual that our military give their lives to defend us. It is how they return love to us, their nation.

    Semper Fidelis ( Always Faithful), means nothing without the ritual.

  • Father_Time

    Really now, I thought you were smarter and would understand my posts.

    Of course we love our military. Its a ritual; a general humiliates a colonel, a colonel humiliates a captain, a captain humiliates a lieutenant, a lieutenant humiliates a sergeant a sergeant humiliates a private. The lesser rank stands erect before the higher appointed over him or her ready to do that superior’s bidding immediately and smartly. That is how our military as a whole, or, individually, stands before our people as represented by our elected leaders. Submissive as a private before a general. This is WHY we love and trust our military. Not fear it.

    It is the mark of a free state that a civilian is not below the private as in a totalitarian state, but above the general. In our system the people have delegated the administration of our “inalienable rights” to an elected government of representatives who’s office remain permanently above all military and police.

    It is true that you can address a female Senator as Ma’am, but the Senator prefers the title Senator and the ritual says that the inferior will address the superior as he or she wishes!

    I am PROUD of the general for understanding and following the ritual by placing himself symbolically prostrate before my Senator instantly without the slightest hesitation.

    AND

    I am proud of the Senator for giving him the public opportunity to display his loyalty to me, the citizen, through her my elected representative.

    I can’t believe you missed all that. The ritual is very, very important because it is in the spirit of this ritual that our military give their lives to defend us. It is how they return love to us, their nation.

    Semper Fidelis ( Always Faithful), means nothing without the ritual.

  • dan

    i hope this is a joke. while i do see your point about the military serving the people and that in order to be a civilized society we must regard them as equals instead of unabated superiors…to say that a politician who only represents his/her own constituents and will never be asked to die for it, is higher up on the chain of respect to a serviceman or woman who signs up to give his/her life for all Americans is just asinine.

  • bringbackamerica

    Hey democrats. Keep up the good work. A few more comments like that and we’ll have Republicans back in the White House lickity split. No sexism intended.

  • Publius

    Chip, much? A gentleman refers to a lady as she prefers to be addressed, whether that be ma’am, madam, or whatever. The military is full of ladies and gentlemen who understand this, so the General immediately shifted his address and called her “Senator” as she requested. That is graciousness and class in action.

    Contrast that with the “Do me a favor…” whininess of the junior Senator from California. “I worked so hard to get this title,” blah blah blah. It’s all about you, isn’t it, Senator?

  • MichiganJoe

    I don’t believe that anyone pretending to be a journalist (Chris Matthews, John Aravosis) should make ONE MORE comment about sexism and gender condescension without reviewing more of the hearing video than this 17 second clip. I watched a 20 minute segment in which Gen. Walsh referred to Sen. Vitter 14 times as “sir” and only twice as “Senator.” So much for jumping to conclusions while merrily being ignorant of the facts.

  • Julie Kadlubowski

    Yes, I am horrified at Barbara Boxer’s comments. As a woman, a former voter for Barbara and a retired Lt Col in the Air Force, I feel like I just witnessed a set back in woman’s political gains by decades. The incredible display of arrogance and ignorance of military customs is truly amazing. I think California needs to find a new Senator next year! and she most definitely should apologize. I don’t know how she thinks she has worked harder than a General in the military. That shows me that she has no clue about what the military does. What happens to people of all parties when they get to Washington? Why do they think they are superior beings all the sudden? A little humility would go a long way up there!

  • Jordan

    This is absurd. I am a democrat and a Marine, and Sen Boxer is making democrats look bad when she says stuff like this.

    All military members call seniors sir or ma’am, it is strictly miliary courtesy and to think it is sexism shows that you have absolutely no concept of how the military works. You should be ashamed of yourself Mr. Aravosis, and so you should you Senator Boxer.

  • rayanthony

    Based on the comments of Father Time, he would obviously be the perfect Stand-In for the most-articulate and high-credibility Congressman Barney Frank or his “Royal Anus” Senator Kennedy, who is no gentleman since “he couldn’t even open the door for a lady” (when he was drunk and went off the bridge in Cape Cod). Compare these congressional cowardice idiots and puffed-up incompetents with our courageous military and you can see the “Barney Frankisms” in this much-to-be-pitied “patriot.”

  • SouthernYankee

    I hate to tell you that I was raised in the same manner and I was brought up in the northeast. You don’t just have to be a southerner you know. I lived on many military bases growing up and I was taught to answer the phone “hello this is the blank, blank house (using our last name) and then saying this is so and so (using my first name). That is how I grew up. I had a strick father who was military. We had to say ma’am and sir. We had to be that way because you never knew who would be calling. Good manners are for everyone. The general still addressed her properly. My opinion and its just mine she is on a power trip. Like most of the congress.

  • SouthernYankee

    I agree totally with you.

  • SouthernYankee

    I am going to tell you that you are a moron. Just because a person is in the military does not give ANY senator a right to demean any soldier wether he is a private or a general. When they enlisted in the service they didn’t leave their rights at home. Everyone deserves respect, especially people in the military that do a damn go job for little pay but lots of scrafices. Elected national representatives are suppose to represent everyone even the people who serve in uniform. I love our military people and the retirees. They all deserve our respect.

  • SouthernYankee

    Since when is being called a ma’am sexist? I never heard of that before. Am 61 yrs old and I always found it respectfull not demeaning. But hey thats me. You can call me ma’am any day.

  • GusII

    The title goes with the job in a republic, no job, no title.

  • SouthernYankee

    Does that also go for retired doctors, presidents, and vice presidents, retired police commanders and retired generals? There is nothing wrong with calling anyone who earned their title after they leave office or their jobs.

  • avgjoe12

    Patriotic Crap? You should be ashamed. What have you done to defend or promote anything this country has to offer. The pure arrogance of Boxer is shameful, I would love to see her engage in an intellectual conversation with this man who probably has more schooling than she could dream of. All of you on here like the idiot “father time” and others of the sort should spend a few days in the life of a military family. He should have just called her what she is, an arrogant BI&T$$.

  • SouthernYankee

    Oh pleaseeeee give me a break. The general did nothing wrong.

  • mirth

    I don’t think the general was being sexist or inappropriate. What we see here is a grandee, Senator Boxer, being unnecessarily rude.

  • Solitary

    She asked to be addressed by her title – Senator. There is nothing rude or unprofessional about that, she was well within her rights. I habitually address people as ma’am and Sir – I’m a southerner, I learned it as the hand of my grandma’s flyswatter – but when people have titles and they ask to be addressed by those titles, I do the polite thing and address them by said titles. There is nothing ‘power trip’ about asking for courtesy or respect.

  • Annapolitan

    I don’t really understand your comment or why it was addressed to me; nor do I care to be educated on as to why you think this makes no difference.

    I’ve read your other comments and they are equally vague. But really, I don’t want to be treated to a tour of your thinking process (if you could call it that) on this subject.

    My opinion remains that she came off looking bad in this exchange.

  • rayanthony

    Hey Farther Time (no misspelling),

    You bubblehead. Obviously, you never served in the military. Probably a draft dodger! And you probably are subservient to women, in general. You learn your history, zipperhead. How many Senators died in combat for their country? How much blood did they shed? How much sacrifice did they make? Hope you get a cure for the acute rectumitis affecting your blurred thinking!

  • woodroad34

    As I mentioned to “Name” below, the video cut off just as he replied. It sounded like “yes, sir”. I wasn’t casting an aspersion, I was merely commenting on what I had actually heard. You might want to cut back on the snarkiness if you want to have an adult conversation.

  • woodroad34

    I did listen again and you’re right. BTW, I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear. When I listened to it yesterday the video cut off immediately and it sounded like he said, “yes, sir”. Your snarky presumption precludes rational discussion. Just next time try to be less of an ass about it.

  • Father_Time

    Whether he addressed her correctly or not is irrelevant.

    His submission is all that is required.

  • Father_Time

    Makes no difference.

    as I said in a post below;

    An elected national representative can publicly humiliate any military member in uniform at any time they wish. Right or Wrong.

    Our elected leaders answer ONLY to their constituency and other elected members of the national body politic. Period.

  • Father_Time

    Clean out your ears. He said YES SENATOR instantly.

    Loyalty is why we love our military.

    IMO his response was perfect.

    If he had been a smart ass like you suggest, his career would have been just as instantly over.

  • Father_Time

    Incorrect.

    An elected national representative can publicly humiliate any military member in uniform at any time they wish. Right or Wrong.

    Our elected leaders answer ONLY to their constituency and other elected members of the national body politic. Period.

  • Father_Time

    BY JOVE you are right Holms!

    I am now stricken with debilitating Venus Mound envy!

  • Father_Time

    …and it would have been the end of your military career…at the very least.

  • Father_Time

    What?

    The MILITARY is ALWAYS inferior and subordinate to the representatives of the people. ALWAYS! The military is below government. Anything else is Treason, dummy.

    The military SERVES the people’s wishes through their ELECTED LEADERS and they SERVE as the people’s elected leaders wish them to serve. ALWAYS.

    Screw that Puny Star in comparison to a SENATOR of the United States and the constituency that senator represents.

    You need to study government bub.

  • Name

    Listen again. He said “Yes, Senator”.

    Try not to hear what you want to hear. Try to hear what is said.

  • Name

    Sorry Dr. Jen, but I must disagree. Ma’am is not sexist. You may choose to ascribe that meaning to it, but that is your personal bias and pain speaking. For your reference, from an article about protocol when addressing the Queen of England: “When in conversation with the Queen, the practice is to initially address her as Your Majesty and thereafter as Ma’am.” Study your US Military protocol as well, and you will find that Sir or Ma’am is what one uses with persons of HIGHER rank than one’s self. If you think using a feminine term is sexist just because it is feminine, you are the one who is prejudiced and sexist in your thinking.

  • rayanthony

    You have to be joking! She acted like an arrogant, ego-centric, pompous ass. You know what it takes to get that one star in the military? Senator Boxer should IMMEDIATELY apologize to the General and all the other “stars and stripes” in each military branch. She is an embarrassment to her “title.” She never put her life on the line as the military does every day. Oh poor “Babs” – she worked so hard to get that title. Too bad she does a rotten job of representing her state and country!

    What self-centered morons we have elected! God help our country if there are many more Barbara (“Babs”) Boxers out there. I recommend she either eat a proper meal to raise her blood sugar before these meetings, up her dosage of psychopharmaceutical meds and also take a course on sincere humility, effective leadership and proper etiquette. Boxer = Bozo!

  • http://blog-me-no-blogs.blogspot.com/ cosanostradamus

    .
    The military is all about respecting rank, and sucking money out of Congress. Any failure to recognize rank in Congressional hearings would have to be deliberate, or an uncontrollable display of contempt. The Senator should have cited the General with contempt of Congress. And cut his program.
    .

  • Father_Time

    I would have prefered that instead of saying: “I worked very hard for this title….”

    That she had said: ” My title represents TWENTY MILLION AMERICANS in my constituency”.

    Which is how I see it General.

  • gaydem

    Sorry. Boxer’s all wet on this one. It’s perfectly appropriate to refer to a Senator as “Senator,” “Ma’am,” or “Sir.” To use a public stage to play this sort of game is highly inappropriate. Get a life, “Ma’am.”

  • tigergrrldc

    As someone else pointed out, he must have called the males, Senator, and called her ma’am. I don’t think she would have made a big deal about it if he had called the males, sir.

  • HelenRainier

    There is not enough context to properly evaluate this exchange. As others have mentioned, did the General refer to the male senators as “Senator” and address Boxer only as “Ma’am”? If so, then the request from Boxer may have been justified. If not, then I think she was being prickly.

    I am a female Army veteran (and baby boomer). My parents brought me up to address my elders and those in positions of authority/responsibility as Sir or Ma’am. There is no respect intended. To this day, and I am nearly 60, I address people in positions of authority/responsibility as Sir or Ma’am. I also did so when I was in the military.

    For me, it’s an engrained part of my “secular humanist” philosophy of treating people with respect and dignity. It is how I address people I don’t know and there is absolutely NO DISRESPECT intended.

  • Wesinoregon

    I see that story is to the right in the video story called WTF? “Don’t Call Me”… It’s funny.

  • Wesinoregon

    I would have said… “OK Ma’am” back at her. If anyone saw Olbermann last night about the story of “Liz” you would understand.

  • GusII

    I’m just tired of politicians retaining their ‘titles’ after they leave office, jeez, it’s not the House of Lords.

  • http://www.thelesbianmafia.com/ The Lesbian Mafia

    Well said.

    And I can’t stomach Boxer … but I think I have a whole new respect for her after seeing this vid!

  • dula

    Showing respect is wonderful but all this “yes Ma’am” , “no Ma’am” protocol after every sentence get annoying in a Stepfordlike way. If Colin Powell was a little less Yessir/Nosir with G.W. perhaps he wouldn’t have gone to the UN and lied us into war.

  • balcony

    As a point of etiquette, “Ma’am” and “Sir” are perfectly correct here. Perhaps the best form for the General to have used in response to the Senator’s question would be to reply “Senator” for the first question, and then revert to “Ma’am” for subsequent questions. It would be cumbersome to have to keep referring to her as “Senator” in every instance. Anyway, Senator Boxer comes across as condescending and absurdly grand in making the request. I’ll forgive her this once….

  • Dr. Jen

    As a butch who gets called “sir” as much as I get called “ma’am”, I know for a fact that “sir” carries a lot more weight and respect than “ma’am” does. “Ma’am” is automatically demeaning and less respectful. It’s imbibed with sexism and that’s just the way it is. I’ll take “Dr.” over “Ma’am” any day. I earned my “Dr.” title, and she has earned the gender-neutral title of “Senator”. If there’s a gender-neutral title that’s applicable to the person being addressed, then that’s what should be used rather than sex-derived categories like “Sir” and “Ma’am” which basically only apply to people who don’t have a higher title to go called by. Good for her for asserting her identity and credentials!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Finchum/1591314937 Anthony Finchum

    Your point is taken, John, but I agree w/most of the posters here. The general’s culture is one of “sir” or “ma’am” – you usually don’t call a superior by his/her titular rank. And frankly – she was my senator for 10 years when I lived in CA – Boxer is a complete a**hole with a perpetual confrontational attitude. (I figure a**hole is a gender-neutral enough description for her taste.)

  • caphilldcne

    The proper form of address for a superior is sir or ma’am. He would call Obama, Sir. Mr. President would also be correct. If your superior officer is a woman, she is called Ma’am. This is proper protocol.

  • Annapolitan

    This made me wince. She was being respectfully addressed by the general. The clip is so short and we can’t view the context of this comment. Was he addressing her differently than male senators who were questioning him?

    Seeing her make a point of correcting him and commenting about how she worked hard for her title, etc., makes her come off as thin skinned, petty and insecure. She appears to presume that he’s calling her “ma’am” instead of “senator” as a deliberate insult. I am sure this general knows all about hard work in order to gain a title. He doesn’t need a lecture from her about it.

    If she had to say something, she could have said simply, “General, you can address me as Senator.” But all the rest of it… gratuitously rude.

  • ChrisS

    I felt a little bad for the General in this one, too, because I don’t think he meant any disrespect, but Senator Boxer made that important point in a relatively non-confrontational way. Good for her.

    My only dispute with your post, John, was your reference to “testicular fortitude.”

    I think the point of the exchange is that ovarian fortitude is not to be underestimated. :-)

  • John

    Unless the General was being sarcastic, and I detect no hint of that from the video, Sen. Boxer is overreacting. Used without irony, “ma’am” typically indicates respect and deference. There isn’t enough of it here to fully grasp the context though.

  • Bruno

    I’d consider her an advocate for gay rights…perhaps borderline fierce. But I’d think a truly fierce advocate would’ve taken the lead on a DADT or DOMA bill by now. I guess all the fierce advocates are following Barney’s lead.

  • http://muzikalthoughts.blogspot.com Muzikal203

    Unless he called all of the men “Senator” and then called her “Ma’am” I don’t see how this was fighting sexism.

  • BrianKE

    Calling superiors by their rank (i.e. General, Lt, Col, Sgt, etc.) or by Sir or Ma’am is proper military etiquette. No sexist intentions involved. It is Senator Boxer’s right for her to be called by her title but she could’ve been a little more respectful of the General.

    Hopefully, our Senator’s have a little more respect for our military as the General represents. Being a General is an accomplishment within itself.

  • tlsintx

    it was a simple, direct request. no big deal.
    nothing wrong with saying what you want.
    guys do it all the time.

  • emjayay

    I don’t think 17 seconds is enough context to be jumping to any conclusions about who’s right or wrong, but I’m willing to go with the fabulous Babs.

  • An_American_Karol

    Yes, Senator Male. Yes, Senator Male. Yes, Senator Male. Yes, Ma’am. Maybe the good senator had just had it.
    By the way..
    Isn’t it the military that’s all caught up in protocol?
    Sen. Boxer has earned her title. The brass should, above any other group, be sensitive to titles.

  • ShirleyGoodnessanMercy

    I completely adore Barbara Boxer, but she was wrong to correct this guy. He was using proper, respectful language. Use of “Senator” in conversational speech is awkward and inappropriate.

    I still adore Sen. Boxer, though. Hers is the ONLY office in the Senators’ Office Buildings which is colorful, gorgeous, and not over-the-top filled with patriotic crap like giant eagles and an excess of flags.

  • mtiffany

    I guess that just proves that people who really are fierce advocates for gay rights don’t need to go around loudly proclaiming that they’re fierce advocates for gay rights.

  • SouthernYankee

    The general did nothing wrong. Check the military code of protocal. He addressed her properly. I like Boxer but she was rude and unprofessional to correct the general. She seemed to be on a power trip.

  • SouthernYankee

    Senator Boxer, You are wrong. The General was right by saying Ma’am. That is the military protocal. He also could say Senator. He met no harm.

  • rf7777

    I think Boxer was out of line here and was unnecessarily rude to someone who clearly had no sexist attitude and meant no disrespect. Sir or Ma’am. They are both appropriate.

  • Guest

    Well, there you have it. I like her even better!

  • canadian_seattlite

    I think Sen Boxer comes off as very rude in this clip, ma’am is a polite form of address. LOL at john for the “testicular fortitude” comment, I agree with the commenter below who said it should be ovarian fortitude.

  • jimfromthefoothills

    the right wingnuts are losing their freaking minds over this. Way to go Senator!

  • Fireblazes

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/cut-off-the-dncs-money.html

    Andrew Sullivan calls for a boycott of the Dems! Cut off the money!

  • Butch1

    Good for her. She is correct and I’m sure the good general likes to be called General even before “sir”.

  • woodroad34

    She asked to be called ‘Senator’ and the General then said ‘yes, sir’. I guess it takes awhile for it to sink in.

  • woodroad34

    I agree with you re: Barbara B. vs. Dianne F. I just wish we could find someone better than Ms. War Profiteer Feinstein.

    However, here are some LGBT points in favor of Baraba:

    **No constitutional ban on gay marriage. (Aug 2004)
    **Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
    **Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
    **Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
    **Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
    **Rated 100% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006) — in that same year D. Feinstein only had an 88% approval rating.
    **Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees. (Dec 2007)

  • tlsintx

    f*ckin’ a! Barbara Boxer.

    this use of “ma’am” brings to mind the way O’Reilly sneers the word “madam” while thrashing female guests he disagrees with.

  • http://www.sciencedaily.com Jophus

    Isn’t this like one of the highest responsibilities you can have in the military, like a mega big deal? Would he not call Obama, Mr. President in a professional capacity?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Collins/686587303 Sean Collins

    Think it was really uncalled for on her part. It’s not like he was like “Look, lady,” he was plenty respectful. I think this is pure semantics on Senator Boxer’s part.

  • offspring

    iam sorry but i kinda have to side with the general a bit, yes she deserves and actually it is his duty to call her by her title, but some slack should be cut, you see in the military we are taught this wierd thing called respect, we address elders, and those above us sir, and maam it is habitual and sometimes people find it offensive due to it makes them feel old, my dad would slap the hell out of me if i didnt call a woman who is an elder or performing public service or in a leadership role as maam now adays i guess people are used to terms such as dude, ho, bitch, yo, bud it is a generational thing but also a military structure, but yes he slipped up but i dont think he meant any harm intentionallly

  • http://planetsean.blogspot.com/ SeanMalloy

    Ovarian oomph…

  • http://planetsean.blogspot.com/ SeanMalloy

    Demanding validation for hard won accomplishments!?!?!?!?
    Wow, next she’ll be disrespecting generational wealth and trashing books by talking heads…

  • Guest

    I agree. I can’t recall hearing anything from her on LGBT issues, which is disappointing, given that she is one of our more vocal, progressive senators.

  • nicho

    I would be a lot prouder if she would submit a bill to repeal DOMA — which apparently has no sponsors in the Senate.

  • nicho

    Good catch!

  • mtiffany

    Were you being ironic or something? I mean, you talk about sexism and then use the phrase “testicular fortitude.” Perhaps you meant “ovarian fortitude?”

  • Guest

    I am very proud to have her as my Senator (can’t often say the same about Senator Feinstein).

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