May 2, 2012
The Mrs versus Ms debate
With civil partnerships becoming increasingly common and fully fledged gay marriage close on the horizon, new precedents are being set for lesbians tying the knot. Will coupled lesbians choose the straight-sounding ‘Mrs’ as their title or opt for the more ambiguous ‘Ms’?
Mademoiselle banned in France
The French are currently leading the way, abolishing the word ‘Mademoiselle’ altogether so that women do not have to reveal their marital status in their title. Males are ‘Monsieur’ and women are ‘Madame’. It is neat, fair and simple. Is it not time that Britain followed suit?
The history of Ms
Since the 1960s, feminists have fought for the right to be referred to as ‘Ms’ rather than ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’. Both of these honorifics are derived from the word ‘Mistress’, not a word feminists are happy with, and rightly so.
The only problem lies in the fact that many married women, both gay and straight, enjoy being referred to a ‘Mrs’. For some women, the title ‘Ms’ even suggests a negative connotation.
What does Facebook think?
I put the ‘Mrs versus Ms’ debate out there on Facebook and asked all my female friends who are married or planning to marry if they choose to be called ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’. Within seconds, the notifications came pouring in.
Overwhelmingly, the straight women have opted for ‘Mrs’ while the lesbians lean towards ‘Ms’. Interestingly, or perhaps completely irrelevantly, the bisexuals declined to comment.
Madeleine, 29, has been married to her male partner for just over a year. She said, “I am a Mrs, I feel Ms is trying to make some kind if statement”.
Similarly, Louise, 28, who is planning to marry her boyfriend this June said, “I thought Ms was for old dears that never married. I will be Mrs”.
The other predominant reason for straight women becoming a ‘Mrs’ was to be romantic and to please their husbands.
Allison, 40, said that one of the main reasons for marrying her husband was to take his surname and Sharon, 34, said that she became a ‘Mrs’ because it meant a great deal to her husband.
Tom, 29, backed up their claims stating, “Married women, whether gay or straight, should be Mrs, as this is the title that tells people you’re married, and if you are married why hide it? To me traditionally Ms is an older woman who wants to be vague about their relationship status, usually because they are divorced or a spinster”.
Karen, 40, has been with her female partner for five years and they plan to have a civil partnership. She said, “I will be Ms all the way, I’m nobodies Mrs! Even when my girlfriend and I get the civil partnership I will definitely be Ms. It’s a political thing for me”.
Donna, Cathy, Jane and Jacquee are all lesbians in serious relationships and will all unquestionably refer to themselves as ‘Ms’ even if they do have a civil partnership or marriage. They all stated it was for feminist reasons.
A couple of straight women also supported ‘Ms’ for the feminist cause. Rosie, 32, chooses to refer to herself as ‘Dr’ or ‘Ms’ for feminist reasons.
Similarly, Anna, 31, said, ‘Although I’m not married, getting married or a lesbian, I am a feminist. It drives me mad that I can’t do a simple thing like order something online without having to make a statement about myself as married, unmarried, or making a point of not letting people know by using a horrible title that people make judgements about anyway”.
The ‘Mrs versus Ms’ debate does not affect gay or straight men and most straight, married women simply haven’t considered it.
It is a battle to be fought by single, lesbian and bisexual women and the negative connotation surrounding ‘Ms’ does not make it the obvious choice for coupled lesbians.
Unfortunately ‘Mrs’ is not ideal either as many lesbians consider it to sound straight and rather smug.
My girlfriend and I are having a civil partnership in July and I am still undecided. She is insistent on ‘Ms’ but I am a little tempted by ‘Mrs’, for equality reasons and because I will consider myself married. What do other Lesbilicious readers use?
Of course, an alternative could be to purchase the title ‘Lady’ (see http://www.lordtitles.co.uk/). It’s a snip at £18.95 and ensures form-filling is fun forever more.
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Justin Bieber lesbian parody
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