In one of my current day jobs, part of my role is to place orders for people and provide a call back service. Inevitably there is always a point in the conversation where I am asked to take down the caller’s personal details, like name, address, telephone number, etc.
And at first I thought that there were a lot of surly women out there compared to the men folk. In my ever present sense of style and charm I would ask the ladies if they preferred Mrs, Miss or Ms as their title. It almost became comical to hear the tired and vexed response of quite a number of them.
But then I started to actually think about what I was asking. See, in western culture we only ever refer to a woman’s title in reference to her relationship to a man, yet the men seem to get away scot-free.
Think about it for a second.
An unmarried woman is referred to as Miss. An unmarried man is referred to as Mister.
A married woman is referred to as Mrs. A married man is referred to as Mister.
A divorced or older single woman is referred to as Ms. A divorced or older single male is referred to as Mister.
Granted, Ms is a title that is starting to win favour with some of the younger professionals out there, regardless of their marital status. It’s also a favourite of my sisters in the sensible shoe brigade.
But overwhelming each time when I am asking a woman for her title, I am really asking if she has ever been a possession of a man or been dumped by him. And I am kind of starting to understand why such a question is actually a tad annoying for some of the respondents. If an older woman says Miss, there’s the assumption she is a spinster. If she says Ms, she’s an angry divorcee. After my parents divorced, my mother disliked immensely the title of Ms. Her response to, “Is it Mrs, Miss or Ms?” would always be, “I’m Elle” (using her first name instead).
Yet to my knowledge there is no male (heterosexual or homosexual) equivalent title that identifies him by his martial status.
There will be lots of people out there grumbling that I am rabbiting on about political correctness. They might be right. I would even hazard to guess that they would also be men.
So I leave you with a final thought before I tie my bi-artch to the kitchen sink ….
A young female is referred to as Miss. A young male is referred to as Master.