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Why are there so many titles for women but only one for men?

(81 Posts)
THERhubarb Tue 26-Feb-13 09:47:32

Why do women need to have their marital status or otherwise conveyed in a title such as Miss, Ms or Mrs whilst men, no matter whether they are with someone or not, will always be Mr?

I've always hated titles and it still feels weird to be addressed as Mrs. I have a name, it's part of my identity and I would much rather my name be used than an old-fashioned title which tells the person whether I am married, single or otherwise.

I find it weird that people can take offence at their first names being used but not be bothered by a title that can tell others exactly what their marital status is. What business is it of theirs? How come men get away with having a non-descript title whilst we have to let the world know our marital status?

Am I the only one who hates having a title and who steadfastly refuses to use it?

HairyHandedTrucker Wed 27-Feb-13 14:12:36

Basically, doctors didn't recognise surgery as "real" medicine so wouldn't let them be called doctors. Once that all changed the surgeons decided that they didn't want to be bloody doctors anyway so stuck with Mister (or Miss, or Mrs, or Ms

Oh in that case, I quite like it.

sleepyhead Wed 27-Feb-13 14:17:28

Yes, some consultant surgeons get quite shirty if you call them "doctor" because in surgery it denotes a junior member of staff.

Then, if you're in a teaching hospital a couple will become Prof, and every once in a while someone who's been around for donkeys gets knighted and becomes Sir. Bloody minefield.

sleepyhead Wed 27-Feb-13 14:18:45

So, yeah actually Rhubarb. Lets just call them all Robert and Marjorie grin

<watches senior cardiothoracic surgeon spontaneously combust at the impertinence>

MOH100 Wed 27-Feb-13 14:26:02

I've always used Ms and still do now that I'm married since I don't use my husband's name - or I use Dr since getting my PhD. I also enjoy using the highest up title that the drop down list on the online shop allows, well almost, I did stop at using Princess when i signed up for NEXT.

In France they've dropped Madamoiselle, all adult women are just Madame, and in Germany likewise, they don't use Fraulein, all adult women are just Frau. Why the hell we can't all just use Mrs whether we're married or not I don't know. I don't like Ms, it sounds stupid and gets misheard as Miss, but I refuse to use Mrs while it still implies marital status. If everyone else decided to change and just use it at the age of 18, married or not, then I would too.

Or just do like the Scandinavians and don't bother with titles at all. Apparently even the king of Sweden is referred to by his first name. Could we uptight Brits cope with that?

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 27-Feb-13 14:37:56

I am so glad that in the US, for most purposes, the default is "Ms." And I have no trouble pronouncing it as I am a Southerner, and most of us have been pronouncing Mrs. that way since time immemorial.

I do find the Quaker practice very appealing. The salutation on a formal letter would be "Dear Jane Smith:" I lived in Pennsylvania for a while and received several letters with that form.

HairyHandedTrucker Wed 27-Feb-13 15:17:22

If you are a southerner, surely you know scone rhymes with bone?! shock

HairyHandedTrucker Wed 27-Feb-13 15:17:46

Or do are you a UK southerner livin in the states and I misread that totally?

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 27-Feb-13 18:40:25


I am indeed a native Southerner still living in the South, but I have lived in Scotland in the past. My nickname comes from my (largely unsuccessful) efforts to promote the correct pronunciation among my friends and family in the

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 27-Feb-13 18:43:55


I should have clarified above the US South.

Kiriwawa Wed 27-Feb-13 18:53:51

I really have to bite my tongue when I'm filling in a form in a shop or over the phone and they ask 'is that Miss or Mrs'. I desperately want to bark at them 'what does it matter FGS??? It's an anachronism that should have died out with black and white telly '

But I don't. I do the Lady Bracknell 'neither' instead

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 19:18:18

It is very tricky though because elderly people do not want to be called by their first name and they don't (on the whole) want Ms. Therefore you have to have a choice to suit all.
I avoid any title if at all possible-but will always correct if Ms because I hate it. I can't see that it matters-call people what they wish to be called.

Frettchen Wed 27-Feb-13 20:42:42

It's a minefield!

I'm unmarried, and am quite happy to be addressed as Miss Frettchen, have never had any issues with that. My best female friend, however, is married and, I believe, would prefer to be called Ms Husband'sSurname, although she occasionally says she wishes she had kept her maiden name. I have no issues with calling her Ms rather than Mrs, nor do I have any right to. A person's name is their name and their own business to be comfortable with.

To be perfectly honest, if abovementioned female best friend announced she and her husband were both changing their name to be Mx Combined-Surnames-Into-One-New-Surname then, aside from not knowing how to pronouce 'Mx', I'd refer to them as instructed.

Anyway, it's only ever sales people who call me by title; regular folk can use my forename and be done with formality!

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Wed 27-Feb-13 20:54:48

I always feel like cheering when someone calls me Ms unprompted, it is rare and people nearly always assume and say Mrs. I try and avoid titles as much as possible though.

WhatKatyDidnt Wed 27-Feb-13 21:02:23

I'm married and use Ms, just as I did when I was unmarried.

For those of you who have daughters - do you put them down as Ms on forms? I have been using Miss for mine... I'm not sure why.

Bue Wed 27-Feb-13 21:27:55

Yes, some consultant surgeons get quite shirty if you call them "doctor" because in surgery it denotes a junior member of staff.

A few years ago I called a Harley Street consultant for an appointment.
Me: Hello, is that Dr Bloggs' office?
Receptionist: This is PROFESSOR Bloggs' office!

OK then. Sorry to have offended the good doctor. hmm

Actually on our labour and delivery unit we call all the consultants by their first names. It's only the very most senior (and the most pompous!) who insist on titles.

WhatKatyDidnt, for your daughters - who I presume are children? - I would use Miss. This is because I still see Master for boys and I think it's the equivalent (and why it is not really appropriate for women).

HairyHandedTrucker Wed 27-Feb-13 22:07:02

DD is too young to have had to fill out a title for her but I would use Ms. I can't help but find miss outdated and a bit silly. I have used Ms since I was a teenager at least

TiggyD Wed 27-Feb-13 22:07:24

Mx is gender neutral. Use that.

PhyllisDoris Wed 27-Feb-13 22:09:22

I love being Mrs xx. Makes me feel that DH and I are truly united (ie "as one"). I couldn't wait to change my name when we got married.

Kiriwawa Wed 27-Feb-13 22:25:53

But why do you hate Ms exoticfruits? Why is it any more awful than mr/miss/mrs?

And that's lovely Phyllis. Have an equally lovely 1950s pat on the head

HairyHandedTrucker Wed 27-Feb-13 22:40:27

is your dh any less "united " for still being Mr?

HairyHandedTrucker Wed 27-Feb-13 22:41:10

or did he go by master until you got married?

EvilTwins Wed 27-Feb-13 22:47:52

At least no one goes by "Goodwife X" any more... I teach so obviously all the kids just call me "Miss" (not Miss EvilTwins, just Miss) so I find it odd when they have to email me work or whatever and start the correspondence "Hi Mrs" (not Mrs EvilTwins, just Mrs). One title for all would be so much easier...

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Wed 27-Feb-13 22:50:40

I feel truly united with DH even though he kept his own name when we got married.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 07:09:10

I can never pronounce it properly, children can't either which is probably why the majority of teachers, TAs never use it- it would drive you demented. They tend to call everyone Miss anyway! I have had 3 children through school and been a supply teacher in many, many schools and I could certainly count the number of teachers called Ms on both hands. It only seems to on MN that people are attached to Ms. I can't see why marital status matters - is Mrs supposed to be superior? confused

StephaniePowers Thu 28-Feb-13 07:11:27

I think if you can say 'fizz' then you're close enough to being able to pronounce 'Ms'. Of course if you have a speech impediment which prevents this, then I apologise.

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