I was filling out my contact information at the vet clinic yesterday and I noticed that ‘Ms.’ wasn’t an option in the title section. I have to admit I was a little put out. My ownership of Argo has nothing to do with whether or not I’m married.
A few years ago, I made the decision to go by ‘Ms.’ rather than ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’. Since then, I have had several lengthy conversations (even arguments) as to why I chose this title. I never understood why anyone would care about how my mail comes in, but for some reason ‘Ms.’ really gets under some people’s skin.
For me, the reason is simple: my relationship status is inconsequential in most situations. To me, it’s the equivalent of entering your height and weight on your tax forms. I’m also not a proponent of the possessive connotation that Mrs has (Mrs = Mister’s), or identifying women in terms of their relationship to men
But to a lot of people I’ve spoken with, it’s not so cut and dry. These individuals consider the title to be a statement against the opposite sex. To them, a woman who loves her husband would naturally be proud to say she’s attached; implicitly, one who doesn’t declare her union loves him less. As it often is, female independence is seen as disrespect for men.
Outside the realm of people I know, it seems there are a lot more people who think Ms. isn’t a good choice. Research shows that even though Ms. has become the norm in most professional settings, women who actively use the title are still stereotyped as more assertive and less warm and feminine than those who don’t. Others are concerned that they will be seen as taking a feminist stance and be stigmatized.
However you paint it, I see a real lack of education in the objection. Ms. is not about the level of love and commitment to a partner; it’s not about putting men in their place; it’s not about being liberal for its own sake. And those who do see it as such should take a long look at why they feel that way. Why so threatened? Ms. is about removing needless categories and using language more effectively so we can think more effectively.