Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Miss the "r"... call her Ms.

Confession: I've always been a little unclear on the whole "Miss" "Mrs" "Ms" distinction. Sometimes I can't remember when you're "supposed" to use "Miss" versus "Ms". And, really, that whole adding an "r" thing because you're married just seemed so... weird. I haven't really given it that much thought lately, but reading this post over at feminasty piqued my interest.

Is there a backlash against "Ms" right now? Do people really think that it's archaic or outdated?

It wouldn't surprise me if they did, even though it's disappointing. As scarred mentioned yesterday in my post about the Travolta comment, there seems to be this sort of backlash against things that are deemed too "Politically Correct" and the honorifics are exactly the sort of thing that the anti-PC crowd would latch onto.

This is one of those things that I can go either way on: I guess I don't mind Mrs... except that there's no male equivalent. If we expect or demand that women give indication of their marital status like that, why aren't we expecting the same of us men? Perhaps "Msr" will work?

Somehow, I suspect that won't catch on.


Jaclyn said...

Oh, barf. Really? "Ms." is retro, and "Mrs." is so, so current, because it's last year to "hide" your marital status? Please. ITA: this is completely of the same cloth with the anti-PC rhetoric. My marital status is fully irrelevant to anyone who knows me formally enough to call me by an honorific. I've always liked Ms. for precisely the way it mirrors Mr. and I'm grateful it was invented before I was born, so I never had to worry about it.

Scarred said...

One of the things I've noticed is that when I use my online banking and am dealing with *some* Southern help desk people, I've noticed that occasionally they get stubborn and *insist* on using "Miss" even after I've corrected them *very gently* and requested "Ms. I find that HIGHLY annoying.

Stupendousness said...

I prefer Ms. The argument, as quoted at feminasty, that society doesn't assume the exact nature of your people attachments based on using Mrs is bull. If I put Mrs in front of my name, I bet 99% of people, even many feminists, will assume that I'm a hetero female married to a hetero man.

Ms has the same number of characters as Mr, so if you're making a list of names, it all lines up nicely. And I hate it when things don't line up.

I hate Miss because, as scarred mentioned, it's often used by Southern people, who feel obligated by tradition to be "sweet", no matter how artificial the feeling is. Though they usually use Miss in conjunction with the first name, not the last.

snappy mackerel said...

I do hate "Mrs.," but that's because I'm not one. I'm a married lady who kept her birth name. You would not believe how many people think this makes me "Mrs. Him" or "Mrs. Mylast". I had an intern tell me, "It doesn't matter what you LIKE, that's what you ARE, according to etiquette!" Just "Ms." is fine, thanks, or call me by my first name.

roses said...

I definately have family members (both older and my age) who would roll their eyes in a "there she goes again with the feminism" gesture if I said I preferred to be called "Ms." And if I were married I wouldn't object to being called Mrs, but I hate "Miss" because little girls are "Miss". The idea is you make a transition from girl to woman when you get married, and that's why you go from "Miss" to "Mrs". I'm 25 years old, I transitioned to a woman years ago, so I do not want to be called "Miss". Of course, what I'd really prefer is just to be called by my first name, the whole title - last name thing seems a little archaic to me.

Roy said...

I have to say, I actually really appreciate honorifics. If someone I don't know calls me by my first name, I feel weird about that. I think that part of it is a respect thing- using someone's first name is a sign of familiarity and closeness.

I'm Mr MyLastname or Roy MyLastname until we've been personally introduced or I say "Please, call me Roy."

Nique said...

I go by Ms. but oftentimes that option doesn't even exist. For instance I hate it when I'm filling out a form and the Ms. option isn't there. I live in Quebec so this is often a problem because only the French titles are available. (And the English translation will also only give two options) There is no Ms. equivalent in French. You're either mademoiselle or madame. Well, I'm too old to be mademoiselle and too unmarried to be madame so where does that leave me? Oh, I guess I'm a non-entity then.

I also freaking hate it when I receive mail as Mrs. Lastname. Who decided that I am married? Who decided to enter me into their database as a Mrs.? It pisses me off. I work in a job where I have to fill in databases and usually people don't specify so I always use Ms. unless they do specify either Miss or Mrs. I don't just assume they are Mrs.!!!

Jaclyn said...

Word, nique. If people call me asking for Mrs. Lastname, I tell them they've got a wrong number. There's no Mrs. Lastname at this one.

Kristen said...

I definately have family members (both older and my age) who would roll their eyes in a "there she goes again with the feminism" gesture if I said I preferred to be called "Ms."

Same here. I first remember my favorite aunt explaining what a Ms. was when I was about 8. From then on I demanded to be called "Ms." and renamed all my dolls Ms. ____. My parents were not at all pleased. ;)

When people go with Miss or Mrs. I use my "super-polite powers" to correct or re-correct them until they get it right.

EG said...

Ms. Definitely. "Mrs" I believe was originally a contraction for "Mistress" (I could be wrong about this), which is why it was associated with "Mr" (Master). The fact that women could only attain that status through marriage speaks volumes.

Anyway, I would never be "Miss" or "Mrs." My marital status is none of your business. If you're really dying to know if I'm married, you can just ask me.

sovawanea said...

I also appreciate the honorifics, Roy.

I work with public. I have to tell them things they don't want to hear sometimes. I have a very unique name, so I prefer keeping it pretty formal in phone conversations with them.

One irate caller actually tried to give my boss crap about using Ms. during a status call. I have no idea if she's married or ever was married. It doesn't really matter too much, since she's my boss. It should matter even less to random angry dude on the phone. (He also told her she didn't sound black after he heard what her last name is) My boss has the patience of 10 mothers combined, she was able to deflect or ignore all of this during the call.

Interestingly, I've noticed that many woman who have the same job as me don't change their name on our computer system or with our claimants when they get married even if they change it everywhere else. I think it's probably also for the extra anonymity.

I use Ms. because I do associate being called Miss with childhood. I am from the South. My future stepbrothers still call me and my sister by Miss because they were raised that it was polite to do so to anyone older than them. The wedding is this week, so they need to get over that.

My mom reverted to Ms. after the divorce but kept my Dad's last name after the divorce because she has used it professionally for 20 years and thought it would be odd to go back to her maiden name. I'm not sure if she's taking a new name or still keeping it after Sunday.

Cara said...

I've used Ms. ever since I was about 15. I hate Miss and I hate Mrs. They both really piss me off. Almost as much as those who insist on call me by my husband's last name for no reason that I can discern other than ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

Aoi said...

This is why I like the Japanese system of honorifics better than ours. Everyone just uses surname-san, regardless of gender or marital status for a generic person you don't know. All others are specialized due to social station (such as -kun, -chan, -sama) which can get complicated, but for the most part gender-free.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, *both* miss and mrs are derivatives of mistress...I'm also part of the contingent who, when asked for mrs hislastname, tell telemarketers that "my mother-in-law lives in livonia."

They never get it: yeah, i'm married, but no, I have my own name, thank you very much.

and it's cool we both live in the same city. go ypsi.

woodland sunflower.

Donna Darko said...

Ms. definitely. Ms. actually lends me a bit of authority unlike Miss or Mrs. Like Ms. says this so you better listen!