Why does Hollywood think that Female military Officers are called 'Sir?'

My wife and I were watching TV last night, and on two different shows, female military Officers were called “Sir.” Never in my 30 years in the military did I see this happen, and I can’t imagine that my fellow Officers that were female would have been pleased if they were ever called “Sir.”

Where did Hollywood come up with this? Do they think it’s somehow sexiest that women superiors are called “ma’am?” Is this done outside the United States?

What sort of shows was it on? A lot of shows in the future use “sir” for both men and women. Also, on the show “Castle” the chief asks to be addressed as “sir” for…reasons I can’t remember.

Can you give specific examples? The only ones I can think of are science fiction where the term has supposedly turned gender neutral. Specifically in Star Trek Voyager Janeway acknowledges that using sir is correct but she prefers the more old fashioned “Ma’am.”

I really want to say that at least one of the US military branches has both Sir or Ma’am acceptable for us with female officers. I remember reading that a long time ago.

You and Munch may be correct. One show was “Fringe” and the other was “WandaVision.”

Only explanation I can think of is

  1. a super lazy and careless scriptwriter and somehow nobody else in the production team caught it;


  1. it’s a recruit who’s become so accustomed to calling every superior “sir” that he fails to catch himself in time when the superior’s a woman.

(the latter almost happened to me in some sort of teen boot camp program at age 15; I became so trained into “sir” everything, and women around us were so rare, that when there was a woman, it was “…ma’am!”…after some frantic mental scrambling and almost saying sir)

My guess would be that- I think there can be a lot of assumption that goes on; officers are always “Sir”, and then just taking that and running with it, as if it was something that goes with being an officer, not being a male officer.

I think on Star Trek, it was just a goofy way to point up gender equality starting in the 1960s- everyone was “Sir” or “Mister” instead of “Ma’am” or “Miss/Mrs/Ms” (how modern day navies do it as I understand).

The science fiction webcomic Schlock Mercenary used “Sir” for officers of all genders. The first time it came up, the author included a footnote that, by the 30th century, the term had evolved into being gender-neutral, and then left it at that.

My memory of TOS is pretty bad but I don’t remember Uhura ever being referred to as Sir, much less Mr. Uhura. Her first name was apparantly Lieutenant.

How about this: Why is it when a male and female officer are engaged in combat training, halfway through Judo-ing each other, their faces wind up 6 inches apart as they give each other a longing gaze?

How come that never happens when it’s two men fighting?

Watch much TV lately? It’s coming soon.

Yes. The two that come to mind are “The Tomorrow War” and the 90s version of Outer Limits had an episode (both set in the future) where female officers are addressed as “sir.” It’s pretty jarring to hear and it seems off and forced.

I guess as the OP did, that perhaps in the future, female officers will feel inferior as a soldier calls the “other” officers “sir” but not her. Why, because she is a woman? Huh? But I don’t know.

Huh. I’ve always just assumed that was how it actually worked.

Same as Sulu!

(And The Closer’s Provenza.)

TWoK’s “Mister Saavik” bugged me when it was new, and still does. Mostly because there was no precedent and still no postcedent.

Since there only seemed to be one enlisted person on the original Enterprise (Yeoman Rand) there wasn’t much opportunity for anyone to call her Ma’am.

Apparently female officers can be properly called “sir” or “ma’am”. SOURCE

That’s not what that source says. At all. The writer says she was often called “sir”, but that was an incorrect form of address. She’s writing about why it happened, and how she reacted to it. She writes that neither letting it slide nor correcting the subordinate are right or wrong. She definitely doesn’t write that calling a female officer “sir” is proper.

Well, she’s not correcting it either:

For now, I respond to ma’am, or sir.

Further, her article suggests it is becoming more common.

Uh, no, her article is suggesting that female officers are becoming more common. And she writes that she responds to m’am or sir, not that “sir” is correct.

Just before that, she writes:

If calling a female officer “sir” were proper, female officers wouldn’t be choosing to whether to “let it slide” or “correct it”. It wouldn’t be an issue at all.

We have multiple veterans here on the 'Dope, and in this thread. We’re all telling you, calling a female superior “sir” simply isn’t the proper form of address in the real-world U.S. military.

The article you’re citing does indicate that it does happen, and female officers don’t always correct it, so in that sense, it’s not purely a Hollywood invention. So, I guess if a production includes a protocol mistake that goes uncorrected as a piece of verisimilitude, the article you’re citing backs that up.

But it definitely does not indicate it’s a proper form of address.

I’m missing where the military is saying it is improper. You have people in THIS thread saying female officers accept it.

And if more women are excepting it then…what? Do you want to stop them? Are you the arbiter of this?