On a radio programme today, which deals with listeners' reactions to what they've heard, a female listener rang in to berate a (male) doctor in an earlier programme who'd been talking about morning sickness during pregnancy, where he'd repeatedly used the word 'ladies' rather than 'women'. She found this condescending, insulting and demeaning.
I, myself, have always referred to 'ladies' because I feel that that word is more respectful than the other one. Actually, it's not the first time I've heard this viewpoint but she was so up-front and offended that I'm wondering if my viewpoint is a 'generation thing'. For the record, I also use the word 'gentleman' when talking to a third party about a particular male - and sometimes, when appropriate I'll say 'young man' (or young lady) which maybe compounds the original 'offence' - though I will concede that the word 'gentleman' has, for some, overtones of referring to a public toilet, as has the word 'ladies' - but I can't help that!
The word 'woman', because it contains in abbreviated form the word 'womb', makes me feel a tad uncomfortable to use in 'polite' conversation. But maybe my views can be dismissed as just those of an old-timer whose crusty attitude has been superceded by time and generally-accepted behaviour. After all, I'm still one of that dying breed who, while receiving glowering looks of disapproval from the men remaining seated, will give up my own seat on a bus or a train for a lady, oops, sorry - a woman!
12 minutes ago