A couple of weeks ago, I was signing up to a website and when I went to put in my name, I was offered just Mr and Ms as title options. It was only the second time I’d ever seen that on a website (or anywhere) and the first time it startled me. Because it made it so clear that there’s usually one option for men (Mr), but three for women (Miss/Mrs/Ms). Why is that necessary? So I tweeted about it, saying that the Mr/Ms option was refreshing.
A friend immediately responded saying she doesn’t want to be a Ms, she’s happy to be a Miss, thank you very much. Another friend replied saying she’d also been thinking about how having different titles for people based on their marital status is archaic. I pointed out that what’s even more archaic is that it’s not different titles for “people” just for women. A man is Mr whether he’s married or not.
But then my Feminist Gurus got involved and they disagreed with me. (Or, as I prefer to think of it, they agreed differently…)
Diane tweeted: “Tbh, not sure I agree with forcing peeps to be Ms. And always nice to have non-gender-specific options.”
Carrie said “Surely it’s about choice, not having that choice imposed on you. We want to have the option to change our name or not change our name, so why is title any different? I respect that you don’t want to call yourself Mrs, but some people do.”
And Diane said, “Saw a woman on here who’d got flowers from a hotel. They said ‘Ms’ and she was like ‘I’m a MRS!'”
Yes, of course, it is about choice. But why was that women so eager to point out that she’s married? Because we still put so much value on marriage for women. Much more than we do for men. As I discussed this on Twitter, I started to feel uneasy because I do it too. All the bloody time. I always feel good about checking the ‘Ms’ box, like I’m all ‘Take that, patriarchy!’ but I have to admit I do feel good when someone asks me if I’m married and I can say yes. I hate to even admit that, because I don’t feel better than anyone else because I’m married. But it makes me feel secure. So I get it, I do. But what I don’t get is how people are still so unquestioning of it. The man stays the same, remains a Mr, keeps his name, but the woman changes? Of course everyone is free to make that choice, I just want people to acknowledge that it is a choice.
It also bugs me that the title ‘Ms’ seems to come under the stereotypical feminists list, along with dungarees, armpit hair and bra-burning. People get really angry about it and when people get angry about women wanting something men take for granted that gets right on my proverbials.