Rebecca Hagelin

Last week a U.S. Senator treated the world to a shocking display of rudeness toward a member of our armed services.

As Brigadier Gen. Michael Walsh testified before the Environment and Public Works Committee, Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer arrogantly and ignorantly reprimanded an officer and a gentleman who has risked his life many times over for her "right" to become a U.S. senator in the first place.

When he respectfully began a statement with "ma'am," she abruptly interrupted and gave the smarmy directive, "You know, do me a favor. Can you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am'? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it. Yes. Thank you."

More than any other group, America's military insist that their members show respect for authority. When addressing a male superior, they say "sir." When addressing female superiors, they say "ma'am." And out of simple politeness and common courtesy toward others, they are also taught to say "sir" and "ma'am" even when addressing civilians. As the wife of a retired naval officer, I have always been so thankful to be in the company of those who serve our nation with such dignity and respect.

Many moms and dads are trying to teach their kids to be polite and respectful by using the time-honored titles of "sir" and "ma'am" too. Most women appreciate when someone takes the time to show such honor. We recognize kindness and chivalry when we see it, and we're not so insecure in our gender identity that we lose our dignity by complaining.

I guess Sen. Boxer forgot how important it is to be a role model of civility when you are a public figure. As the most powerful person in the room that day, she should have been gracious and kind. She really should have thanked Gen. Walsh for his years of service to our country. She should have expressed praise for all military personnel who are making it possible for other women around the world to enjoy the same privilege that Sen. Boxer has of holding public office or even voting. And she should be aware that most women appreciate the respect afforded by the term "ma'am," regardless of any other gender-neutral titles we may have earned. Instead, she set a poor example, insulted every military officer in the land, and left many males wondering (once again) about how to be respectful to females without inflaming some feminist psychosis.

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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