03 Nov Miss, Mrs, Ms…
Ever wonder what the difference is between the prefixes Miss, Mrs, and Ms for women? Whenever filling out forms online or paper documents there seem to be multiple options for prefixes for women. Miss is a prefix for women who have never been married, a maiden you may say. Mrs. Denotes that woman is married, a matron. Ms is used for divorced or widowed women or women who wish to not state whether they are single due to never having been married or due to divorce or being widowed.
Why do we need these varying prefixes? I supposed back when marriage was a more prevalent part of western culture it helped to know which women who were available and those who weren’t. There was a time when women were defined largely by their marital status. i.e. Mrs. Johnson was more of an extension of Mr. Johnson and Miss Jones was the daughter of Mr. Jones moreso than there individual selves. I would imagine this construct added quite a bit of value during past cultural constructs.
What do these prefixes mean for our society today? In a world where women have access to education they could have the Dr. prefix. Are they any less or more of a woman? I know couples where the woman is a Dr. and the man isn’t and when they are approached by someone who doesn’t know which is the Dr. it is assumed the man is. Like Mr. and Dr. Johnson just feels wrong, surely it should be Dr. and Mrs. Johnson! Are these prefixes merely remnants of a past world where women’s marital status need be announced even before her name, or do they actually add value even today?
I ask this question because I rather like the prefix Miss. I use it because I’m not married but also because I like it. To me it adds a bit of personality to my name. I don’t feel as if I’m oppressing myself by abiding by a cultural norm that existed in a time that wasn’t as open to women being individuals. Surely after marriage I will change it to Mrs. However when people see me write my name using Miss in front of it, women and men alike cringe. I suppose in a world where women are defined by much more than their marital status or the men to whom they are married these prefixes are no longer necessary. I just don’t find them cringe-worthy or demeaning. After all, my first name remains the same whether I’ve married, divorced, or earned a professional degree…I am ME!
What do you think? Miss? Mrs.? or Simply Ms.?