So let's look at what "ma'am" means:
- dame: a woman of refinement; "a chauffeur opened the door of the limousine for the grand lady"
- Madam, Madame, ma'am, or Mme is a title for a woman. It is derived from the French madame (see different meanings of madame here), the equivalent of Mrs. or Ms., and literally signifying "my lady." The plural of madam in this sense is mesdames. ...
- A contracted form of madam
- Replaces sir, when addressing women officers in particular and all women in general.
"You know, do me a favor," an irritated Boxer said. "Could say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?'"
She didn't say "You know, General, do me a favor". She spoke to a military general as if he was some punk kid disrupting class, and she demanded that he show her respect through her title, because his actions and words weren't respectful enough.
I am offended at her littleness. This is arrogant and ridiculous, and all because "ma'am" does not defer enough authority to her. Please. One day she'll just be a has-been, once-was ex-senator, and then she'll just be a "ma'am" again, unless of course she's in the company of the general public, where she'll be lucky to get that.
I did enjoy Gen. Walsh's response to her request:
*read the whole article.