"I have a problem with the opposite sex. Specifically, in relationship to identity. The subject came up in a work gab session where 6 ... ahem, females, and 3 males ranging in age from 23 to over 50 were discussing appropriate ... ahem, female salutation, individually and in plural.
In business discourse a ....ahem, female is refered to as Ms. or Mrs.. But in adult bloggery, where a bit of ankle (or more!) can be exposed salaciously, I feel surnames may be too formal for the situation. The environment is a little more pub, bedroom, and shared shower--with a stranger who doesn't seem like one. I'm contorting sentences to avoid inappropriate use of: girl, lady, woman, women, Miss, Ms., Mrs., honey, bitch, cunt, madame, sweety, dear, and, and ... there's more.
I don't want to commit a horrible social faux pas. What is a good, generic address for a ... ahem, female who I would want to compliment for showing her charms?"
There are no generic answers, sadly. It all varies according to circumstance.
For example, if, say, you wanted to greet a female blogger who writes informally about intimate matters and shows the occasional hint of cleavage for HNT now and then, you could probably get away with a "love", (Blimey, love, that was a cracking post on fisting!) possibly a "darling", (Adored your piece on butt plugs, darling!) or maybe even a "lady"(Lady, you surely know how to fill a vest.)
If, on the other hand, you were addressing a female blogger who has the words "sex", "positive" and "feminist" on her blog anywhere then you'd be wise to say away from "girlie", "bint", "twinkle" or "baby" and perhaps just stick with "woman".
In addition to the above, in general I would say these terms are more or less ok:
and these are to be avoided:
Although individual preferences do vary and one person's inoffensive "Morning, sexy!" is another person's trigger point for extreme knee in nuts action.
Of course you may well find that the simpler solution is to ask the female in question for her name.