That's Ms. Badass to you
July 8, 2017 8:59 AM   Subscribe


but more like "Ms!"
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:06 AM on July 8, 2017


I usually hear it pronounced 'muz' round here (UK).

Tactically I believe it would have been better for feminists to insist on 'Mrs' irrespective of marital status; it's a better parallel for men's titles and would have subverted the existing system instead of further elaborating it.
posted by Segundus at 9:14 AM on July 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:59 AM on July 8, 2017


I use Ms. I like it. I didn't realize she was from St. Louis, but that makes a lot of sense.
posted by limeonaire at 10:17 AM on July 8, 2017

posted by Mister Bijou at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2017

The solution seems to have become "we don't use those titles much anymore". A single default for women would be best as Segundus suggested. I used to (for a while) use Ms. as default, but it felt like I was imposing my own political ideas on others. But if not that, then you need to go digging, "Is this person married? What does she prefer?" Not my business, I just want to write her name down not learn about her private life.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:05 AM on July 8, 2017

> A single default for women would be best as Segundus suggested.

I don't understand. That's exactly what Ms. was intended to be. It's not the fault of Sheila Michaels, or of feminists in general, that it hasn't caught on as much as it should have.

Also: .
posted by languagehat at 11:34 AM on July 8, 2017 [27 favorites]

I address people the same way I am addressed, as "Hey You!"
posted by jonmc at 11:37 AM on July 8, 2017

1973-74, 4th and 5th grade. Ms. Epstein and Ms. Rabin were my first exposure to the word. In hindsight, it actually made a huge impression on me.

posted by Room 641-A at 11:42 AM on July 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I remember my mom telling me about being in nursing school in the mid-70's and the instructors refusing to allow a student to use Ms. - they insisted they had to know her marital status to have her as a student. This always stuck with me and I've been so proud to use Ms. my whole life.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 12:00 PM on July 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

Ms. 'til I die.

posted by tzikeh at 12:29 PM on July 8, 2017 [9 favorites]

In the US Ms. is definitely the single default in my experience? I've always been Ms. and always will be, married or not. Mrs never appeared to me in my life. Maybe teachers still go by Mrs because of tradition I dunno.
posted by bleep at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

bleep, I think a lot of people kind of mumble through ms/miss/mrs to avoid using the wrong preference, although a lot of people also seem to make a point of addressing you the way they perceive you.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2017

I haven't met an American woman under 60 that doesn't go by Ms. It's the default, just like Mr.
posted by shoesietart at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

I never realized how recent this was. Ms. Michaels had a lot of impact on the language in a short time. It always seemed explicitly political to me when a teacher didn't use Ms. when I was in school (mid-90's to mid-00's in central Kentucky). I never wanted to call myself anything else.

posted by lemonadeheretic at 2:24 PM on July 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been Ms. since I was married, wish I'd done it before.
posted by ukdanae at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

As one born in the '80s, when I was growing up all my female teachers and my friends' mothers were "Ms. So-and-so" to me. These days I rarely use titles and surnames in my social and professional circles, of course, but for most of the women I work with now I've found the "Ms." title has fallen out of favor. I call them instead by their preferred title: "Dr."

Thanks for helping us get from there to here, Ms. Michaels. We've still got miles to go, and there's a rising current threatening to sweep us back, but your life and works are a reminder that forward progress can always be made.
posted by biogeo at 2:49 PM on July 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

Always been a Ms. Ms. when single, Ms. when married. I am grateful to her.
posted by Miko at 5:19 PM on July 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


I like Ms. I also like Miss, but I don't use it anymore. I used it when I was in college, around 2000, because I was the kind of girl who liked to be vaguely out of date. At my current age, of course, it's not eccentric and charming to wear something that's out of style; it's just dowdy. So I have settled in with Ms., and am grateful for it.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:51 PM on July 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

posted by tilde at 7:20 PM on July 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by filtergik at 3:32 AM on July 9, 2017

posted by camyram at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2017

Southern USians definitely still use "Mrs." to distinguish themselves more than people on this site do! As per usual, there are class, race, and home language facets to delve into. Also, no "Mx." without "Ms." forging the way, outside of theory circles and into popular culture. Yeah to both options. Bureaucracies are fossilized agendas, so yeah to people who make us question those!
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 12:15 PM on July 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Southern USians definitely still use "Mrs." to distinguish themselves more than people on this site do!

But we all pronounce "Mrs." as "Ms." anyway, so the distinction's only noticeable in writing. Convenient, that.
posted by asperity at 9:38 PM on July 9, 2017

But I always pronounced Mrs as "misses" while Ms was "miss". Maybe that's also a southern thing?
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:06 AM on July 10, 2017

I don't think it's a Southern thing at all. "Ms." is pronounced "Miz."

What is a Southern thing is pronouncing "Mrs." as "Miz," so that's confusing. I pronounce "Mrs." as "Misses," always have, and so does just about everyone in my region.
posted by Miko at 10:12 AM on July 10, 2017

In the early-mid-1990s, I read some book published in the 1970s by, I think, anthropologist Desmond Morris. I could be wrong about the author. Anyway, this scholar sneeringly mentioned that the newfangled "Ms." innovation was supposed to obscure the married-or-not information conveyed in "Mrs." and "Miss," but that "since the only women who are opting to be called 'Ms.' are divorcees, it fails its purpose entirely," or somesuch NYAH NYAH STUPID FEMINISTS HAVE COINED A USELESS TERM blather.

If I remember correctly, the same book used "she" pronouns when discussing conventionally female-dominated occupations like secretary or nurse, and "he" pronouns for every other context. Judging from the early-mid-1990s undergrad reading I was doing at the time, a newfangled innovation in some late 1980s - early 1990s published academic texts was to reject "universal" male pronouns. These texts were careful to write pronouns so as not to gender stereotype. "He or she," or alternating "he" and "she" so that there was even distribution.

I remember thinking, "Whoa, that 'Ms.' comment really dates this text, since there are a lot of 'Ms."'s now of every marital status. ....And that newfangled non-gender stereotyping approach to pronouns in those books I've been reading lately had struck me as good but weird, but now that I read this 1970s book by a world-renowned scholar that uses female pronouns to gender stereotype all the fuck over the place, and otherwise uses 'universal' male pronouns, I see REALLY CLEARLY, so much more than before, the difference it makes! Wow! People really have no clue how socially conditioned we are! Most of us think we're 'thinking,' but we're just programmed, but we call it 'thinking'!"

Sheila Michaels, I salute you.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:33 PM on July 10, 2017

Hell, I used to use the default "he" and "man" and so forth, and I've always been a feminist. It just sounded more serious. And if there was one thing I wanted, it was to be taken seriously. I didn't understand yet that there was a way to change what "serious" was.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:56 PM on July 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sheila spent her summers here in St. Louis and I was very glad to have her as my downstairs neighbor for part of the year. For some time after I moved in I had no idea that she had led such an interesting life. But one morning I heard her voice on NPR when I was getting ready for work. I spent the morning googling and reading about her. Prior to that day she had just been the lady downstairs with the yapping dogs and a very green thumb. After that day I was left thinking that there was no way I could lead a life that was even 1/10 as interesting or impactful as hers.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:03 PM on July 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

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