Tuesday, January 29

What would you do?

Let's imagine there's a form which needs filling out. You're female, and don't want to be given the title Miss, as you obviously prefer Ms (we don't really need to go into the reasons why, do we?) Now, on this darling form, sit merely two options: Miss, or Mr. Said form demands that you tick the appropriate box. Since Ms is Miss/ Mrs contracted, I suppose Miss is technically correct. On principle, however, I hate to have to use Miss.

This is quite an important form, which does actually exist. And, surprise surprise, it also needs filling in soon. Do I cross out the Miss and write Ms, or resign myself to Miss?

I want to know what you'd do!


Emily Tesh said...

Hello, I'm wandering free across the blogosphere...

Cross out the entire box, say you find the question offensive? They can't possibly really NEED to know if you're a Mr or Miss. And the Miss is offensive.

Alternatively, check both and if anyone asks say you're a hermaphrodite and you feel personally insulted by the binary paradigm.

Alternatively again, use Miss but send the form in with a blistering cover letter accusing them of being out of date and wasting ink (two extra letters! appalling!)

Ben Wilkinson said...

Well, Katy, although I can see why you favour Ms for the obvious reason of not having to disclose your marital status (which in using Mr, men need not do), but isn't Ms fraught with its own problems all the same?

That is, because the options of Mrs and Miss already exist (as opposed to the historical singularity of Mr), in using Ms a woman looks like she has something to hide.*

This a conundrum I remember considering when I studied the politics and rationality behind feminism in my undergraduate degree. It ultimately boils down to language being an inherently wily beast that isn't easily directed, and likes to evolve naturally and randomly, for better or, in perhaps in this case, worse.

So I haven't so much offered you an answer here as compounded the problem. Which is rubbish. But if you do want to keep your marital status private and don't give a monkeys what other people might think as a result (and why would you, when all's said and done), then I'd cross out the Miss and put Ms.

Perhaps what this whole debate actually boils down to is forms being no less than an absolute bloody nightmare.

*I didn't mean that to sound so sinister... but you catch my drift, right?

Katy Murr said...

Hi Emily, enjoying the wandering like the wine I spy on your picture, I hope.

well, they probably did need to know whether I was male or female, due to sleeping arrangements. Coz, you know, male and females cannot possibly share the same corridor, and obviously nothing sexual ever goes on between the same sex. Yehhh... I'm guessing this was their logic. To tick male or female would suffice though - titles were unnecessary really. Oh yes, totally a waste of time. Plus, doesn't Ms sound so much better? Mhmmm, I think so. Miss Murr VS Ms Murr... Ms wins all the way.

So you know, I crossed through the 'miss' and wrote Ms next to it.

Hi Ben -

'in using Ms a woman looks like she has something to hide.' I don't think *she* looks like she does, but rather that other people project their suspicion of the title onto her usage of it.

It has its problems, yes, but only because other people still don't seem to have accepted it. I'm in the process of changing all my details (bank, medical, opticians etc) to Ms - it is a faff precisely because people don't seem to understand the necessity of it! I have actually been asked 'why do you need to change it?' (!)

Uhm, but now that we DO indeed have Ms, why is it not the default? For business address, it certainly is, so why not with bank and medical details etc for girls? (I wonder sometimes whether many people have never even considered it! - for surely it is obvious, once considered, which is the best option!)

I'm not actually bothered about having my marital status known - I doubt I will ever get married; it is the principle which riles me. How can anyone attempt to justify that females today should have their marital status publicised daily whilst a male's goes unknown? I understand that it's how the language evolves, as you say, a wily beast indeed, but that doesn't justify our general lax attitude towards equality in addressing people... still, least we have the option of Ms, unlike the French.

Oh, and yes, I totally agree with the bit about forms. I always find it difficult writing in capitals, too - my handwriting is naturally rather messy, and I always write joined up, so my scrawl is rendered horrendous in capitals!