I responded that I prefer “Ms.” because if you’re using that formal level of address, then my marital status is irrelevant.
I asked what she preferred and she responded: “I use Ms. And I can’t stand Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Jaure. I am a person, not an appendage. I have my own name.”
And I re-tweeted it, which meant that everyone who follows me could see what My Feminine Mind had said with the implication that I liked it.
There was immediate objection from several men. The general response was typified by CatholicKelly who said: ”‘and the two shall become one…’ – Mark 10:8 To say being married makes you an appendage is to misunderstand the sacrament.” He further suggested that going by “Ms.” rather than “Mrs.” is a denial of marriage, a sentiment in which some others quickly echoed.
I find this view perplexing for a few reasons. To begin with, it is most often the case that a person needing to use the most formal form of address simply would not know the marital status of the person being addressed. Thus, if one insists on “Mrs.” or “Miss” as opposed to “Ms.,” one is requiring people to pry into the marital status of a woman in a most awkward way in order to be correct. If marital status is so very important and public that it must be immediately known, then why is it that it should only be known for women? Is “Mr.” a universal denial of the importance of marriage on the part of men? Oh wait, don’t answer that one.
Mark 10:8 happens to follow Mark 10:6 & 7 which says “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife).” Well how about that! If one were to take scripture as one’s inspiration, would it not seem that a man should leave his parents, and leave his name and titles and be joined with his wife? If anything, it is the man’s marital status which should be on display for all to see as evidence of the fact that he has left his parents and has joined his wife. Of course this is all taking the passage quite out of context and distorting its meaning (which is, incidentally, about the indissolubility of marriage).
The lovely thing about Christianity, is that it has been so fully assimilated by our culture that we are excellent at taking our most favorite values from our culture and pushing them back onto Christianity. There is, quite simply, nothing in the Bible that suggests that Christ would want a woman to assume her husband’s identity while her husband continues on as if nothing has changed. If anything, following the cultural tradition of making a woman’s marital status known in polite address but not the man’s, is anti-Christian as it stands in contrast to the biblical standard of two becoming one: a one who is a completely new unit, not merely the male one with the female added on!
Christian marriage is the antithesis of a man as a person and the woman as an appendage which he has added onto himself. And that is precisely why it is quite appropriate for each spouse to be treated the same way when it comes to public acknowledgment of marital status. The idea that a woman should be known by a title which denotes her marital status while her husband is not, is at best unhelpful, and at worst perpetuates a non-Christian understanding of marriage.
I happen to believe that my marriage is one of the most sacred and intimate aspects of my life. It is not to be publicly paraded around as the most trivial and surface information available about me. Strangers do not need to know about my marriage in order to politely call my attention.
I can respect the position of those who believe that marriage is primarily a public identification and status. But I cannot understand any good reason for making the information public for women, while hiding it for men. If “Ms.” is a problem for Christian reasons, then so is “Mr.” So maybe “Ms.” is one giant red herring to distract us all from the far more common pernicious “Mr.” the title which is actually undermining public recognition of the importance of marriage.
- Even Family Planning
- On Being a Failure