Ms? Mrs? Miss? Homie?
A couple of girls I work with are getting married soon. Among other things related to this topic, we were discussing titles. As in, if they’re going to become a Mrs or go for Ms. One was undecided, the other was set on Mrs. So naturally the question of ‘why’? came up.
For the soon to be Mrs, it was because this was the traditional title for a married woman. It signified marriage and therefore was the natural thing to do.
For the potential soon to be Ms, it was more because she is also keeping her maiden name and simply felt Ms suited it better.
So with a case study of two, it seemed that the answer was quite placidly that it’s a personal choice and there’s no right or wrong.
How 21st century of us! If only the internet was as open minded.
After searching through a few discussion forums on the topic, I couldn’t believe how stubborn some people were when it came to asserting their opinion on the topic.
I think opinions are good, and to be fair, when it comes to making a choice about what you’re called as a title, I think it’s important the decision feels like something you believe in. But we have to be comfortable with that belief being singular. By definition ‘personal choice’ refers to a choice that only affects you as a person. Projecting your choice as ‘the way’ things must done is where the line needs to be drawn.
While nosing around in this topic I searched ‘why do we have personal titles?’ To my surprise, there wasn’t much on that. Aside from being introduced to a new word: ‘honorifics’ and a brief overview on the history of titles, there wasn’t much explaining why they exist. Which makes me think, do we really need them?
The default is to think yes, but is the reasoning ‘because we’ve always had them?’. I mean, when you think about it, aside from signifying marital status, what purpose do they serve?
I suppose if you’ve slogged it for years and have earned the title of Dr or done something great to be a Sir or Dame, you’d be well miffed if we decided to drop them. But aside from actually earning something, they feel like an awfully old school way of stacking the layer cake of society.
When we think of the complexities around gender definition, along with lesbian and gay marriage, I simply can’t see this being a convention that will stick it out in the long run.
Personally, when the time comes, I think I’ll opt for Ms. Largely because it’s the least definitive of the lot. I also think I’ll keep my surname, mainly because it’s the name I feel the most connected to. But should my feelings toward that switch up a few years in, maybe I’ll change name and title then. I also think we should be flexible to that thought too. Changing our minds as our lives change too. Why should anything be set in stone?
Like I said, a personal choice should be personal and almost as important as knowing what ours is, is appreciating that other people have the right to theirs own too.