Using "Ms." instead of "Miss" or "Mrs."

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by JohnV, Jun 9, 2008.

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  1. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What do you think about this? Is this an accommodation to Feminism? Or is it a natural progression in the use of our language? Are you offended by the use of "Ms.", or are you offended if it is not used? Should we use it? Or should we not?

    I've been caught in this dilemma a few times. I'm not comfortable with using "Ms." because to me it's an accommodation that is not necessary.

    I do find, though, that the use of "Ms." makes properly polite addresses harder to explain to my children.
  2. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I only use it when I don't know whether or not someone is married, and assume it is used in the same way with me. Given the maritally specific meaning of "Mrs." and "Miss" it seems like a good thing to have a further category of polite address for people whose marital status you don't know -- in other words, not a concession to feminism but to ignorance.
  3. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    It's also courteous in the case of older, unmarried or possibly-unmarried women. When used on a return address it's saying, "It's none of your business what my marital status is," which is true. Miss carries the connotation of someone who is young and marriageable. It sounds ridiculous attached to a 70 year old virgin.
  4. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    Only ridiculous in today's society because of the assumptions people make. Personally, I only see "Ms." useful for divorcees who still have their married name attached. Otherwise, it's a means of saying, "none of your business".
  5. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    I try to use whatever the recipient would prefer, if that can be divined, as that seems to me to be good manners.

    If you just have an initial and a surname I just call them Mr as they have given no indication of how they wish to be addresed and I have a pathalogical aversion to addressing someone as "Mr or Mrs".

    I can see the arguments for using Ms, we do live in a very sexist society, but I do not like it, people are often too self abosrbed by what people call them.

    I like George Foremans quote that you can call him whatever you want as long as you call him for dinner.
  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

  7. k.seymore

    k.seymore Puritan Board Freshman

    I like "Misc."
    It can be used for anyone.
    - Misc. Jane Smith
    - Misc. John Doe
  8. Sonoftheday

    Sonoftheday Puritan Board Sophomore

    I dont think Ive ever used the Miss. I have no objections to it, it just isnt in my vocabulary.

    Brother and Sister are my most used terms, if I am referring to an unbeliever I think I typically just say their names.
  9. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    The most Godly woman I know is a staunch ANTI feminist. But, when she was 29 her husband left her and their five children and ran off with a woman at work (who deliberately schemed to seduce him, btw). She feels it is oxymoronic to call a mother of five and grandmother of thee "Miss" (even at 48 years of age). On the other hand, "Mrs." certainly doesn't capture her situation now that she has been divorced for nearly two decades. She goes by "Ms." as the most descriptive title. Yet, there is a measure of sadness about it for her since she never wanted to be anything but a doting wife and stay-at-home mom.
  10. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am used to using "Miss" to refer to a young girl, or a single woman, or a woman who is representing her profession (teacher, nurse, etc.), or a woman who is widowed and in certain circumstances requires to be called "miss", or a woman whose married status is not known to me. That's what I am used to. So "Ms." is strange to me. I've called women "miss" even though I knew they were married because they were acting in their field of work.

    I've never seen it taken amiss.

    That's why I ask. I just want to know what others think about it. Thanks for the responses.

    I don't think that I'd call George Foreman anything but Mr. though. I might not call him for supper, but I'm not going to call him anything disrespectful. All my belts put together aren't as big as his one belt.
  11. Simply_Nikki

    Simply_Nikki Puritan Board Junior

    I agree with some of the statements above. I know some people use Ms. as a none of your business title. But I use it particularly for older women or women who I'm not sure are married or not, widows or divorced women. It just seems a more appropriate and cautious title. I'd find it a bit inappropriate, in say a business oriented letter, to address a woman you don't know as Miss or Mrs., since you'd be assuming something you don't know about the woman. Ms. just seems like the safest route. :2cents:
  12. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    I use Ms. professionally only. It's safer to use Ms., especially on any document templates, to avoid referring to someone in a brief the wrong way.

    Personally, it would be Miss or Mrs. unless I accidentally slip into "business" mode. I've tended to overuse first names on lot of occasions, before I'm truly familiar with someone, so I'm transitioning to a more "Miss" or "Mrs." form of address.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  13. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    :eek: Well, OK, if YOU insist . . . Ms. Scott Hooker. But I got to let you know, bro. It kind of creeps me out to think of you that way.
  14. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    :rofl: :eek:

    Ms. Scott Hooker - perish the thought.

    Now Mr. and Mrs. Scott Hooker - now that I could warm up to :) (of course, I don't know who the Mrs. in that would be)

    Of course I refer to men as Mr.
  15. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I learned "Mzzzz" in the 60s when I lived in Texas. My 3rd grade teacher was Mzzz Wills (She was married to Chill Wills's brother, BTW). I figured the feminists just came later and adopted a reasonable language construction.

    If a woman lawyer is opposing counsel, I always address her (at least initially) as Ms. It no longer seems to be a statement--just a convention.
  16. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    I lived in the South long enough (17 years) to know that all women are called Miss. Single women are "Miss Jane" (or whatever their christian name is) & married women are "Miss Smith" (or whatever their family name is).

    At least that was the rule in North Georgia!
  17. staythecourse

    staythecourse Puritan Board Junior

    Good answer Ms Manners. um Mrs. Manners.
  18. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I use "Miss" with women who are unmarried and "Mrs." with women who are married. In the part of the South where I live that is still common practice. Personally, I tend to associate "Ms" with feminism. Frankly, I think that "Ms." is almost disrespectful.
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    When my Dad divorced my Mom she went to Ms. She was not a Miss nor a Mrs.
  20. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    What assumptions?
  21. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This isn't just the South, is it? I mean, that's what I learned too. We had a teacher in grade school who was called "Miss Gilmour", even though she was a Mrs. Gilmour. We had no connection to her at all except at school; we did not know Mr. Gilmour at all. So we called her Miss Gilmour. You could say, in the old tradition, that we called her Miss Gilmour "without prejudice". It was pretty common.

    But then, I live in the South too. Southern Ontario, which is as south as you can get in Canada.

    For me "Ms." came into use in the Seventies, and was attached to the objection to the use of the word "man" in such cases as "mailman", "policeman", and so on. It's still proper in some places, and is becoming more acceptable again, to call a woman postal delivery person a "mailman", and a woman cop a "policeman". It doesn't require an apologetic on the old inclusive term "man" anymore, because people understand it according to the context.
  22. SueS

    SueS Puritan Board Freshman

    I've always thought that Ms (Mizzzz) sounds rather sleazy. I hate receiving a letter addressed to "Ms Scott"
  23. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor

    My kids call neighbors and close friends of the family "Miss" or Mr. (first name) Miss Tammy, Miss Judy, Miss. Tracy..and they call men Mr. Will, or Mr. Jimmy, or whatever.

    At church/school they refer to adults by Mr./Mrs Last name..unless of a course a teacher insists they be called Ms. which has only happened once or twice and the kids, thought it sounded odd, and would make comments at home like MSSSSS.. so and so said..I get onto them and let them know that's NOT respectful to the person, and what they prefer to be called..but it doesn't change how they feel..that it sounds odd..

    My daughter began to feel old when they started working in a daycare and the kids started calling them.. Miss Casey..and Miss Jessie...
  24. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    I think Ms. is appropriate in business settings or if one is unsure what the marital status of a woman is. With a few exceptions, it is disrespectful for kids to address adults by their first names. :2cents: I like Aunt (for relatives and children of close friends), Mrs. or Ms. in business or for acquaintances and friends. :2cents:
  25. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    Some they do call Aunt, but in the south, at least here in the south, it is quite common for children to call adults Miss (first name) or Mr. (first name).

    Even in daycares that is what they are taught to call the adults.
  26. Galatians220

    Galatians220 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yes! Agree totally. (My "thanks" button is gone again, otherwise I wouldn't have burdened this thread with the following.)

    I always address someone as "Mrs." when I know they're married. No one, not even anyone going through a divorce or after divorce, has ever registered an objection.

    Personally, although I try not to be, I'm offended when someone knows I'm married and addresses me as "Ms." I cut them "Christian slack," of course, and never mention it - but it still irks me. I took my husband's name when we married; I am not ashamed to be married, and I am "Mrs.," not "Ms."

    In the legal field, one is presented with the dilemma of what to address a female attorney. After 26 years, I still choke at putting "Esq." after a woman's name, although most women attorneys I know don't care about that. To me, it seems less than respectful to a woman to put "Esq." after her name (I've worked for a couple of women attorneys). So I usually, in the line of address in correspondence to a female attorney in my little part-time job, put her name and then on the next line, "Attorney-at-Law." No one has ever objected to that, either.

    I'm old, though, older than dirt, and old-fashioned as well. :2cents:

  27. Gloria

    Gloria Puritan Board Sophomore

    I use it all the time so I guess I'm not offended by it. I use it most when I'm unsure of a woman's marital status or when I'm addressing a divorcee'. I don't want to call her "Miss" because, well, it doesn't seem proper. I don't want to call her "Mrs." because she's not married.

    PS, I hit "thanks" on accident.
  28. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    I was going to tell you that there was a button called Remove my Thanks, or something like that, you could click to take away your thanks. I clicked Thanks to test it out, and found that apparently the function's no longer available. So, I guess you're stuck with the thanks.

  29. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It looks like most of you take "Ms." to be a replacement for the old-fashioned "Miss", and take "Miss" to refer only to young girls or as-yet-unmarried women. Or am I mistaken? It seems that some of you think that it is just as inappropriate to call a married woman "Miss" if you're not sure about or don't know her married status as it is to call an unmarried woman "Mrs." The net result seems to me to be that the way I would use "Miss" is the way some of you (at least) think of "Ms."

    So it seems to me that the use of "Ms." has changed how we use "Miss". Or did that happen before "Ms." came along? Did "Ms." come along maybe because we changed our use of "Miss"? That is, has the use of "Miss" lost proper use and therefore come into misuse, therefore necessitating "Ms."?
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