Around the dinner table tonight, Avery told us that her teacher shared the extremely relevant opinion today that “Ms.” is a foolish construction. It was Avery’s turn to tell us one thing about her day. We were fairly swimming in complacent self-congratulation up to that point. Molly got an Elmo toddler bed from the 24/7 yard sale classifieds on Facebook and Lucy won the afternoon kindergarten spelling bee and Callie had all As in her progress report except an A minus in math for sloppy homework-turn-in.)
And then: “Ms.” is stupid. And you know what? I can see his point. Or, I almost think I kind of remember thinking or hearing something that sounded reasonably like that and almost good in a smug “we’re above political correctness/lameness” and “we prefer simplicity and the unwritten order of things” sort of way.
I don’t know the history of “Ms.” (I’m going to have to look it up now.” But this is what we came up with on the spot:
Is there an equivalent male title that denotes a man’s marital status? Why?
Why do we need to denote a woman’s marital status but not a man’s?
Is there a reason people need to know whether a woman is married or not?
Are there or were there things a woman could not do if she were married? (Like teach school a century ago, or own property at different times in history or retain custody of her children or have the right to not be raped or beaten by her husband?)
Is there a good reason for society to know if a woman is married or not in the sort of situations where a title is used?
If it is illegal for a prospective employer to ask an applicant if they are married or not, is there a way for a woman to retain her legal right to that privacy if she must title herself either “Miss” or “Mrs.”?
And then –
What about, I asked her (skimming over the littler ones’ hears, I hope) the rape case in California where the state appeals court ruled that a man cannot be charged with rape if he rapes a sleeping woman while impersonating her boyfriend. It is only rape, so the archaic law goes, if he is impersonating her husband.
Is it fair if the same action with the same intent by a man is judged differently by the law based on the marital status of the victim?
No, no it is not.
Almost every day, it seems, I reach the breaking point. That’s it. I’m done. I wash my hands of this misogynistic, crappy world. I’m not happy that my blog has turned in to feminism and the church* all the time blog, but it’s not like I blog every day, any way. But I could, and every day I could write more about how this is just so not the way things should be. So not.
*I know school is different from church, but sometimes they’re the same in small town Utah. Avery’s teacher said last month that the women planning to wear pants should be worried about not following the prophet. And he is an old family friend of my grandparents, and Avery happens to really, really like him, as do we, most of the time. But she wore pants that day to church so I think she can like him and stay in his class and learn a lot from him while not agreeing with everything, and I told her to tell him she’s sorry he doesn’t understand these things but he’s probably just suffering from White Male Privilege.