Women of my age have long ago adopted the term “Ms.” as a preferable courtesy title for a woman. Calling a married woman “Mrs.” seems archaic and somewhat derogatory. This puts an end to defining a woman by her marital status. “Ms. Magazine” hammered home this idea since it was first published in 1972.
My nursing student daughter-in-law wears a necklace with the letters “Mrs.” on it. Her good friend gave her a pillow with the words Mr. and Mrs. emblazoned across it. She also took my son’s last name as her own.
A very smart young woman I know became a nurse practitioner. Her professors told her to go to medical school because she could definitely handle it. She said no. She wanted to have a family and did not want the intense work schedule of most doctors. She felt passionate about working in the medical field, but she wanted a better balance between her work hours and her personal life. She married, had a child, and is happy to use her husband’s last name. Mrs. doesn’t seem to offend her.
Conversely, another smart young woman I know wanted to become a doctor and her advisors told her to go into nursing instead. She ignored them and she became a medical doctor at the age of 25 while graduating in the top 2% of her class. When she got married she took her husband’s last name. Not even a hyphen connects her to her former last name.
Is it contradictory for a woman to pursue a profession and still call herself a Mrs.? Are millennial women enjoying the fruits of the feminist movement while reverting to some patriarchal mindsets?
Maybe the feminism of Camille Paglia is winning here. Camille is an academic that attacks academia. She is a lesbian that doesn’t get along with lesbians. Her opinions often veer toward Harold Bloom.
In her wild and complicated book, “Sexual Personae,” she writes:
One of feminism’s irritating reflexes is its fashionable disdain for “patriarchal society,” to which nothing good is ever attributed. But it is patriarchal society that has freed me as a woman. It is capitalism that has given me the leisure to sit at this desk writing this book. Let us stop being small-minded about men and freely acknowledge what treasures their obsessiveness has poured into culture.
You may disagree with Paglia, but exposure to her ideas won’t hurt you. I prefer to move freely along the political spectrum and pick and modify ideas of all sorts. Reading and thinking are the some of the most enjoyable and useful activities a human can pursue.
I’ll keep using Ms., but the Mrs. title doesn’t offend me. Does it offend you?