I have not been able to contribute as frequently to this site. This is because I spent many hours this past week thinking about writing the short story I was assigned for class. In fact, I spent so much time thinking about writing it that I may have forgotten the due date was approaching. I may have also forgotten to, um, actually write the damn thing. Two days before the 20-page manuscript was due, I decided to stop worrying, since I always worry but everything always ends up fantastic, and I was probably going to write it all the morning it was due anyway, because–let’s face it–inspiration on the face of panic is the best kind of inspiration. So I wrote it all hours before I had to turn it in, over pretend coffee and imaginary tears and very real exasperation. (I couldn’t have very real coffee, because then I would just pretend to be a very real writer instead of really writing.) Then I told myself I would never do this again, which of course is a lie.
SO ANYWAY, Consider the Tea Cosy writes the following on her blog,
I am in the process of buying a thing online. I get to the page where I am asked to enter my details. One of the required fields is ‘Salutation’.
The available salutations are as follows: “Mr, Miss, Mrs, Dr”.
This, gentle readers, is what we call a Conundrum. I go by Ms. Always have. Unless I get myself a PhD, I always will. I have no desire whatsoever for utter strangers to call me by a name which demonstrates, primarily, whether or not I am considered by polite society to be available to fuck.
This leaves out Miss and Mrs. My marital status is none of your goddamned business unless you want to marry me. In which case you hopefully know me well enough to know my marital status already.
The only other two are Dr and Mr. Given that I identify pretty strongly as female and have (so far) an MA as opposed to a PhD, neither of these is entirely honest, either. However, I am currently in a situation where I have no choice but to pick one.
The question, therefore, is this: Do I have more respect for the institutions of education and academia, or for those of arbitrarily-defined gender?
Mister it is, then.
I used to address letters (back when I used snail mail) to my friends like this:
Miss [Name Redacted]
Milky Way Galaxy
Solar System of the Sun (Our Star Should Have a Name; This Annoys Me)*
Terrestrial Inner Planets
North, Western Hemisphere
United States of America
San Francisco Bay Area
[Rest of Address Down to House Number Redacted]
And yes, they always did receive my letters, which was very kind of the mailpeople, because I imagine they must have been entirely bored and greatly unamused with my nonsense. I could not restrain myself from doing this, because I had to be as specific as possible. I just had to be. (Also, aliens.) It’s at least better than another friend of mine, who never uses her real name when purchasing things but addresses her packages to “Sexy Hot Pants.” I’ve since lost touch with her. But I digress again. (I’m recovering from laryngitis and an ear infection and cannot focus.) I always used Miss, not because my friends and I were (are) unmarried, but because I planned to continue to use Miss for myself even after/if I married. I’ve realized since reading Aoife’s post that while using Miss would be much more defiant than using Ms. while married, it is virtually ineffective used when unmarried.
Consequently, I will be promptly switching to Ms., which is derived from Mistress just like Miss, and is therefore still awesome. Better yet, I should just adopt the title of Mistress.
Mrs. and Miss should perish into extinction from lack of usage, especially the former, whose very existence grates on my nerves.
*I was about to suggest ‘Capella’ but I see it is taken.