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I will be 40 this year, and if the age old patriarchy had it’s way I would either be a Miss or a Mrs.

A Miss

It’s the archaic symbol of virginity and virility, until you get over 35 that is, when it signifies being a bit of a shrivelled up has-been left on the shelf unwanted by the land of men. 

A Mrs

A woman with the beacon of ownership in marriage and thus warning to all other men to keep thee the fook away. This ones taken and no longer the object of your, or anyones desire. 

Progress to gender equality

The pursuit and ongoing fight for gender equality has meant all couples, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and pronouns can choose to Marry, to have Civil Partnerships, or to do neither such thing if they so choose.

However the one thing that remains stagnant is the classification of women by their title. 

Why not stay a ‘Miss’?

When you are nearing my age or you happen to have been in a very long term serious relationship but maybe have no intention of marrying, it kinda gets to the point where it just feels daft writing Miss. Like you aren’t really even a woman yet. 

You’re a Miss at school. 

“Missy” is what the grown ups call you when you have a little too much preteen sass. 

As a girl your mail comes through the door always as a Miss. Your brothers go from the dizzying ego grooming title of Master to one day just being a Mr, all because they hit adulthood. They don’t even have to do anything. For men are innately worthy.  

The ladies on the other hand can literally be 80 and still not be given an adult title if they don’t marry. 

I’m just saying that takes a big fat fucking biscuit. 

Patriarchal control

Us women are out here, growing and raising actual new humans in our fucking bodies, getting degrees, having careers, owning houses, even being fucking Queens of countries and shit and still you don’t give us an equivalent title not affected by the impact of a man! 

That just is not ok. 

It’s one of those things that sit under our noses and are such a given we don’t even question how absurd it is. How actually gross it is. 

Some companies no longer include the title box, but despite steps towards being more open and mindful of folks differing identities and pronouns, many still also require a title choice. 

A way that essentially allows patriarchal structures to decipher whether we as women are single or whether we are married, in a pursuit to categorise and utilise this for things such as targeted marketing. 

Something the menfolk are not having. It’s just simple old Mr for them!

It is absolutely worth noting here that another little boxy is also often present, often instead of the title box, ultimately in order to further make transparent all of our living situations; the “who’s up in your house” box. It’s generally stuff like ‘single, Married, cohabiting etc’ and it gets me wondering, is this to also understand the dealio with what the men are doing or is it also because increasingly women and people generally are choosing to opt for Ms or Other? 

The history behind the ‘Ms’ title

Ms was initially derived for times of address when someone wasn’t sure of the marital status of a woman and how to address them, such as in writing a formal letter. Ms was deemed a socially acceptable abbreviation of the term Mistress which was absent of marital alignment as was the term Mister. 

I never really thought about it until recent years, but increasingly I am wondering why I am still using the term Miss and how many other fully grown unmarried adult women are also doing so without the slightest thought?

I guess maybe I thought one day I might marry and it never really crossed my mind. 

Disney and the patriarchy had me holding out for the Mrs.

Marriage Vs Civil partnership

When my partner and I after 2 kids and 13 years together decided Marriage wasn’t ever going to be for us. Neither of us were religious or felt particularly like Husband or Wife types, but wanted a way to mark the serious and committed nature of our relationship. So last year we decided to have a civil partnership. 

In doing this my title did not change, in the same way there is no normal associated change of surname. And here I am, now essentially Married for all sense and purposes in terms of the legal sense and still rocking the Miss title. It feels like it doesn’t sit right for me. It’s not that because I’ve chosen to be in a unity with someone I want it to show in my title, it’s more that in some legally committed relationships it does and others it doesn’t, which doesn’t seem right! 

If we are saying a civil partnership and Marriage are of legal equivalents and are the same they should be the same. And if both same sex and opposite sex marriage and civil partnership is now an option in this country how can we have some people’s titles changing and not others?

What does that actually mean?

Is using the Ms title the right feminist thing for all women to do?

For me it is becoming more and more an issue of feminism. Where I always felt it unjust and sexist women’s titles change, it’s now even more about the structures of Mariage itself and  fundamental message the church and state is making about ownership of female bodies, for it is only the womans title, within the institution of marriage, that can be changed. 

Is it not, therefore, the ultimate act of feminism to never be Miss or Mrs and always claim the Ms? 

In one of my many inequality rants to Si, which he has come to be very accustomed to, I brought this up and he was really suprised. He was of the belief I had been going by the title Ms for many years already. In his words “it’s surely the right and feminist thing to do”. Dammit, trust him to be more bloody feminist than me! ? (also, so totally proud of you). 

Let’s level the playing field with the men. If a man is Mr at 18, then a woman should be a Ms. There should be no title change with Marriage, it isn’t necessary as indicated by a man’s name not changing (a surname change should be your individual choice, it wasn’t for me personally). 

So women, womxn, females and anyone who might ordinarily want to use the title of Miss or Mrs. Join me and ditch the patriarchal system of defining women merely on the basis of marital status and our proximity to male ownership. 

Be a proud Ms. 

Reclaim it, it’s ours, it allows us the freedom to be undefined, uncategorized and most importantly, not an item to be possessed. 

2 Replies to “Ticking ‘Ms’: The right feminist thing to do?”

  1. I agree
    But I also like being a Mrs, I love the simplicity of showing my marriage to others, the same as my wedding ring. I more wish there was an alternative for men. That they had a title which showed their marital status. I want everyone to know Martin, my husband is married to me and only mine. 😂😂

    1. It is hard to explain to people and often we say we are married just for ease. Also a great point about the men. I hadn’t even thought about it that way really.

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