Well you certainly used the right word when you chose ‘elder’. Unlike men, women tend to be ‘devalued’ as they age. Men become ‘distinguished’, women just get old. You often see older men with younger, sometimes MUCH younger, women but it’s seldom you see an older lady on the arm of a young stud. Becuase of this societal truth, that young women are valued more than old ladies, we women tend toward sensitivity regarding any implication that we are ‘elder’ and thus of lesser value. And besides, the word ‘ma’am’ is a contraction of ‘madam’ and we all know what a madam does….