Saturday, December 29, 2012

Courtesy Titles

There is one thing that will get me madder than anything - madder than people being rude to waiters. More irate than when folks leave an empty window seat on a crowded tram. Filthier than when you're left hanging for water at a restaurant after asking for it three times. More upset than when the hard drive fails to record the last five minutes of your favourite television show.

It's the misuse of courtesy titles.

I think courtesy titles are one of the most pointless things on the planet and want to bring out a law to abolish the useless wastes of ink / toner cartridge / laser cuts.

I mean manners and politeness have gone out the window, right... like people don't thank you for Christmas presents much and if people try and push past you they don't say 'excuse me' as much as they used to. People push into queues and make fusses over the stupidest of things. Rudeness is all over the place.

Therefore I think, in this world of declining manners, that we should abolish courtesy titles. Full stop. In an ever less polite world, why do we need something as archaic as this in Modern English Usage?

See, here is where I stand.

I am a Ms. If you have to use a courtesy title at all.

I am of the female persuasion. If that matters anyway. It doesn't and it shouldn't.

My marital status is neither here nor there either. It matters less than the fact that I am a woman. I suppose it's a useful thing to know for say the doctor calling me for my bi-annual pap smear or advertising companies wanting to do some market testing around tampons. Okay, and I will grant you that if in the same family the mother's name is Mary and the daughter's name is say Monica, it can help to differentiate between mother and daughter - but that is about it.

A F for Female box on any form would be enough to show I've got XX chromasomes.

When call centres phone the house at dinner time asking for Mrs Behr I politely tell them, "She was my grandmother and she's dead." This is just before they call abruptly comes to an end.

I've told most of my friends that I prefer, if they feel the need to use a courtesy title, to be called Ms.

Firstly, as a security matter, I'm not comfortable with the great unwashed knowing my marital status. Single often means alone. Not something you want actively advertised when you live alone. I have a post office box for mail to help with security and privacy - I feel that a Ms courtesy titles gives nothing more away than the fact that I'm a woman. There might be a bloke around. There might not be. No need to question. Nobody's business anyway.

I've ragged out and threatened to cease trading with companies that call me Mrs or Miss. Seriously. It offends me that firstly, I've told them that my preference of courtesy title and that it is bad customer management to fuck up this preference. Secondly, it shows a lack of care and consideration and why would I want to deal with a company like that? Why isn't Ms the default courtesy title for women. If you want to me a Mrs or a Miss then you can say? Men ar Mr from the day they are born.

You can't cancel friends like you change electricity companies.

You can't change your mother either. I can't stop her from calling me Pandy. For nearly thirty years I've asked her to not use a courtesy title - or use Ms. I've also asked a number of friends to refer to me as Ms if addressing mail to me.

Doesn't seem to matter to them. But if offends me greatly when I get mail addressed to Miss P. Beer. I feel like sending it back with a big stamp saying "Not Known At This Address". There is a Ms P.Behr here. Not a Miss P.Behr.

I also have a conscientious objection to being called Miss. I'm in my forties. I know I'm unmarried. I don't need to be told of this fact.

My third point about courtesy titles, especially for women, I find that the use of anything other than Ms is descriminatory. There are assumptions around Mrs and Miss - Ms just means you're female. End of the story. Mrs implies that there is somebody else out there making the decisions. Miss implies that you do not have control of your own life.

So Ms P Behr I am.

Maybe I should go out and study medicine or get a PhD so that I can then shove a Dr in front of my name and put an end to all of this.

But seriously, I've asked nicely for nearly thirty years to be addressed as Ms if you have the overwhelming desire to use this archaic form of addressing post.

Please have the decency to respect my preferences.

(That feels better)


River said...

I prefer not to have a title at all, but most paperwork insists upon it, so I retain the Mrs. I simply do not like the sound of Ms. thanks.

Jackie K said...

I am, and have been for many, many years, Ms. I totally agree Mrs and Miss are just silly when men get only Mr. (We abandoned "Master" some years ago when addressing cards to boy-child relatives). On cards and mail (which I very rarely send these days) I either don't use a title (just the person's name or initial and surname), or use Ms/Mr.


The Elephant's Child said...

And a Ms over here as well. Interestingly it is family that seem to have most difficulty with it. Hiss and spit.
And a happy courtesy title free New Year to you.