Dear Miss Manners:
What do you think about Sen. Barbara Boxer being addressed as “ma’am” rather than as “Senator” by a U.S. brigadier general during a Senate hearing? Was this really a breach of protocol?
Let us not go looking for insults — or assume stupidity, which it would be for anyone to insult a senator at a senatorial hearing.
Miss Manners assures you that “ma’am” is, like its masculine equivalent, “sir,” a highly respectful form suitable for addressing any female, including a president, a monarch and your own mother.