Open Thread

by epi on June 28, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie Brunson June 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

I am one month shy of being 66 years old and by choice have never married.
I do not appreciate mail being sent to me addressed as MISS. An unmarried woman should not have her marital status revealed by a title unless she agrees to it.
A young man of age 5 or an old man of 95 can be addressed as MR and there is no reference to his marital status. A young girl may properly be addressed as a MISS;
however, I take offense to the title of MISS being used with my name. This is 2012
you would think that the etiquettes of 1812 would modernize a bit. I have been a career woman….a professional. Don’t put MISS in front of my name. Put Ms. or leave it plain but don’t put MISS in front of my name.

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Zakafury June 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Ms. Brunson, if we ever meet, then I will know your preference. Proper etiquette dictates that people defer to your preference, but only once they know it.

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Chocobo June 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Oh no, please, don’t get rid of titles and have bald names lying on the paper like that, everyone deserves the respect of a title. I understand your frustration, but do have some patience. We are in a confusing transition period in history where there are three separate titles for women (Ms., Miss, and Mrs.), and it seems half the country is in an uproar on which one they should be called. If it makes you feel any better, both Miss and Ms. are shortened versions of the once-honorable title “Mistress,” which was unfortunately corrupted by a more disreputable meaning. It’s really a shame, because it would be so much easier to just use Mistress, but there you have it. It doesn’t help that so many older people object to being called the very honorable “ma’am” and insist on “miss” as though they are still teenagers.

While we wait for society to sort out a singular method, we must submit to whichever title the lady prefers. But the ladies must also have a bit of patience, as probably no one is trying to cause offense, but just doesn’t know how to address each woman when there are so many different opinions. If someone keeps writing the wrong title, gently bring it up to them, perhaps in a joking manner: “Oh no, my friend, I’ve been a Ms. for a very long time now.” I have also read that you can sign your letters in with the correct title in parentheses, such as: “Sincerely, (Ms.) Bonnie Brunson.” If it’s a corporation or junk mail that’s using “Miss,” there’s probably not much to be done about it, unfortunately.

As a side note, I personally still use the proper term when writing a letter or card to a boy or young man: “Master”. It’s a lovely title and always seems to make the young ones feel intrigued and happy.

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Rebecca July 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

I’m not married either (I’m in my early thirties) but can’t say I really encounter this problem. In my experience people tend to default to Ms. nowadays. The last time I recall being called Miss is as a very little girl, getting a birthday or holiday card addressed to me, and the sender wanting to make me feel grown up, LOL>

If you had to say, who do you feel is mostly responsible for the usage of Miss? Is it perhaps older people who still remember a time prior to Ms.?

Regarding “ma’am,” it always brings to mind that classic episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where Mary laments to Rhoda about how she’s gotten old because a young man addressed her as such. But – again, in my own experience – I’ve been called ma’am by random store clerks and waitresses and the like for YEARS, and I’m just 32. I really don’t think most people put too much thought into that these days, choosing to opt on the side of the more encompassing title as a default.

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Pam June 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Chocobo, I found your response very interesting to read and I agree that unless someone is purposely continuing to call someone by a title they have already corrected, people don’t mean anything by it.

I don’t know what part of the country you are from, so perhaps it is not taken the same way there as I think it may be taken here, but when I see “Master” I can’t help but think of slavery or even servitude.

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