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Ms Sheila Michaels: Feminist who popularised 'Ms', dies aged 78

(30 Posts)
HarryBiscuit Fri 07-Jul-17 09:52:06

Just lifted this from the BBC website.
I had never heard of her so just sharing in case anyone is interested.

NoLoveofMine Fri 07-Jul-17 10:01:18

Thank you - I hadn't either so am glad I have now, though in unfortunate circumstances. I'm pleased increasing numbers of women are using "Ms" though it's irksome many default to "Miss" when addressing women (banks for example it seems).

sticklebrix Fri 07-Jul-17 11:04:19

Another one surprised to hear about her for the first time. Thank you Ms. Michaels! An important legacy.

geekaMaxima Fri 07-Jul-17 11:33:39

Never heard of her either; turn out she was an interesting woman.

Are more women using Ms, though? The undergrads I lecture are all using Miss or even Mrs (I see their chosen titles in the student records system), even though Ms is definitely available. As someone who used Ms from the age of 16 or so, I find it a bit depressing that none of the 18-year-olds I encounter think it's the title for them and instead use the (imho regressive) Miss. sad

Wawawaa Fri 07-Jul-17 11:34:59

I know, NoLoveofMine, why do banks do that? For years I've been telling banks I'm a Ms, and to date all my cards and addresses have only ever had Miss on them, grrr. I don't know why I'm always still a bit surprised when the card arrives with Miss on it, after spelling out Ms super clearly on the phone. Not sure why they bother asking really as they always change it back to Miss. Some women are so touchy about not wanting to be Ms (in what universe does it make you an old lesbian, and so what if you are?). I'm not sure why it's anyone's business if I'm married or not?

NoLoveofMine Fri 07-Jul-17 11:44:30

That's unfortunate geekaMaxima. A fair few teachers at my school are "Ms" although unfortunately "Miss" and "Mrs" are more common when combined (I find it a shame this is being further enforced amongst younger girls). My friends and I will certainly all be using "Ms" - I hope most girls will do but fear they won't (it's not something I've had conversations with a huge number about!). I do think a fair number of women use "Ms" now, I read it quite often in articles etc, but it's disheartening so many undergraduates aren't where you lecture.

Wawawaa indeed, my cards (both of them) say "Miss" and I'm waiting until I'm 18 to get them changed to "Ms" as I'm not sure if "Miss" is actually correct when under 18 but have been told in the past it is. I've read of women having all sorts of problems with banks on this - persistently being ascribed the title "Miss", banks refusing to accept women not changing their surnames upon marriage and addressing correspondence to "Mr and Mrs X", it's ridiculous. In my opinion there's no reason for any title other than "Ms" to exist for women - men only have "Mr" after all. I will be incredibly frustrated if I keep being called "Miss" after I tell them to change it but I fear I will be.

RoseVase2010 Fri 07-Jul-17 11:45:25

I HATE the use of Ms, I don't feel that women should hide their married status, to me it feels almost as if you are admitting married women couldn't do the job.

*this is totally my own view and I realise it may conflict strongly with others but it is my view.

NoLoveofMine Fri 07-Jul-17 11:46:08


So are all men "hiding their married status" then?

NoLoveofMine Fri 07-Jul-17 11:46:42

Not to mention plenty of women marry and don't change their surnames anyway.

NoLoveofMine Fri 07-Jul-17 11:47:52

Doctors, dentists, professors and so on must be "hiding their married status" too.

Wawawaa Fri 07-Jul-17 11:51:11

That's interesting geekaMaxima. I think maybe there's a perceived link with being 'old' and 'young'. With Miss you're perceived as young and beautiful (and maybe it's really important for some women to identify themselves as such), Mrs, an old married lady (but worthy of a husband) and Ms, well you're just on the shelf... It's so silly. I think Ms should be a default term, unless someone specifically asks for it to be changed. Fewer people are getting married, so why do we still define ourselves by whether we managed to bag a DH or not?

NoLoveofMine Fri 07-Jul-17 11:53:45

Even if married there's no reason for a woman not to be "Ms", not even in the circumstances a woman changes her surname to the man's. There's no male equivalent of "Miss" or "Mrs" and the titles are grounded in patriarchy.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 08-Jul-17 17:26:55

I don't care whether I'm Ms or Miss. I have a number of bank accounts and they vary between the 2 as I'm inconsistent in their use. I hate "Mrs"

I don't think "Miss" implies one is unmarried. I know plenty of married women who use Miss.

EBearhug Sat 08-Jul-17 18:55:20

I was very surprised at the optician today to have been addressed as Mrs, as it's a title I've never used. I did correct them, but I don't think they corrected it on my forms. I have to go back soon, and didn't have the energy to argue the point.

The odd thing was that the optician introduced himself as Jeremy rather than Mr Smith (actually, I've no idea what his surname is, as it turns out.)

I'd rather not use any title, but if I must, as many online forms insist, I prefer to be Ms, or Miss at a pinch. Not Mrs. That's my mother.

Akire Sat 08-Jul-17 18:58:27

I use Ms because only other option is Miss that's for little girls! If you are not married then only grown up is a MS

NoLoveofMine Sat 08-Jul-17 22:57:27

If you are not married then only grown up is a MS

If I was married I'd still be Ms. Why wouldn't I be? My hypothetical husband would have taken my surname but he'd still be Mr as he was before.

Akire Sat 08-Jul-17 22:59:26

Of course you can keep MS but for me I can't change to MRS so for me I can only use MS or pretend to be married

EBearhug Sun 09-Jul-17 01:27:41

You can be Ms, Miss or Mrs. They're all abbreviations of mistress, and there's no law saying you must use one rather than the other.

As I've got older, people have started assuming I'm Mrs rather than Miss. They rarely seem to take Ms as the default, and even less rarely offer my preference option of no title.

Cailleach666 Sun 09-Jul-17 07:51:37

I question why we need a title at all.

Does it matter whether we are Mr, Ms Miss etc.

Why is our gender or sex important? Can;t we just have a name?

Datun Sun 09-Jul-17 07:58:48

It's seen as being polite not to call somebody by their first name.

Although I think that may be dying out now.

My mother's generation were very put out if someone called about them by their first name. It was considered rude and over familiar.

But when you look at it, there's no reason for that.

geekaMaxima Sun 09-Jul-17 11:49:08

Does anyone know if titles have a legal status under any UK law?

I use Dr when I have to use a title, not because I want to trumpet my qualifications, but because I prefer a title that indicates neither sex nor marital status. When a form doesn't offer Dr, I'll select Ms. When it doesn't even offer Ms, I sometimes select Mr rather than be forced into Miss or Mrs. And once I selected Admiral on a form that inexplicably had nobility and military titles but not Dr or Ms shock

But I wonder - is it legal for me to do so? Are titles just optional social markers or do they

geekaMaxima Sun 09-Jul-17 11:51:31

Hit post too soon.

...or do they have a legal status in determining identity so I could be technically committing fraud to deliberately select a "wrong" one??

EBearhug Sun 09-Jul-17 11:55:45

Dr is a title that people work hard to get the qualifications for, so I wouldn't use it, because I haven't been through that slog, and it seems disrespectful to my friends and others who have.

geekaMaxima Sun 09-Jul-17 12:06:09

I a Dr by qualification but it wouldn't bother me if other women selected it on forms as a protest against the nonsense of sex-marked titles.

There's a big difference between doing that and (for instance) using a title to gain false professional advantage, like a certain poo-obsessed tv "Dr" used to do.

cadnowyllt Sun 09-Jul-17 12:07:09

As far as I am aware, there are no legal implications for using the 'wrong' title - certainly wouldn't worry about fraud. Fraud being a species of 'theft' there are certain factors that need to be present before you would be committing any theft - there must be some property involved, that property must belong to another, there must be an intention to permanently deprive, must be some appropriation and lastly dishonesty. All need to be present for there to be any fraud.

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