Mr or Mrs or Miss? Actually I prefer Ms.

It’s that time of year when household policies come through the door as fast as junk mail, offering deals of all sorts. Usually they go straight in the recycling bag, unopened. But this one looked appealing, I’d glanced at it but didn’t do anything about it, because I had no time. It has sat on the edge of my desk for over a month, its white and orange lettering prompting me every day to READ ME. When I eventually read the details, it wasn’t bad, actually it was great, £200 cheaper than all the household policies we currently have added together, you know the kind – cover your inside and outside pipes, drains, mains water, boiler, plumbing AND this one offered electricity cover too. I’d missed the ‘take out this cover’ date by a day, but the lovely woman on the phone said not to worry, all would be well AND I could still have the free carbon monoxide detector. I was on a roll. We went through financing details, I gave her my name, I asked if two of us could be named on the policy and she said, ‘we can only put one name down, but your husband can call anytime.’ I said, actually I don’t have a husband, I have a wife. Pause. ‘Oh.’ Pause. ‘Sorry,’ she said. And we continued. I felt good, I’d been open and honest, as I always am, and I had hopefully made her think again, and not assume all women, if married, were married to men. The amount of times we have to spell it out, hello, I am married to a woman, I have a wife, NOT a husband, and if you insist on including a title, I prefer Ms. I’m definitely too independent to be called Mrs and too old to be called Miss (though on occasion when I am called Mademoiselle or Signorina, I blush and take great delight, though we all know it has been said to charm, and it works every time).

This morning I received the policy. Addressed to Mr Silas. I said to Stella, ‘when I told the woman I had a wife, do you think she thought I was a bloke with a high-pitched voice, rather than a woman with a wife?’ ‘Yeah,’ Stella said, ‘I do.’

I have crossed out Mr and put Ms on the policy. Do I call and set them straight, or ignore it?


Ms Shelley Silas married to Ms Stella Duffy

22 thoughts on “Mr or Mrs or Miss? Actually I prefer Ms.

  1. Such a good post, Shelley. It drives me mad when people ask my title and I say Ms and then they just go and put Mrs anyway. Also, when they don’t seem to be able to cope with the fact that I use my own name and haven’t changed it to my husband’s.

  2. Brilliant. Recently had a similar phone conversation when they kept asking about my husband/male partner. My sister as well as my partner were in the room which resulted in us getting the giggles. The bloke called back about 3 minutes later and apologised for making assumptions!

  3. I have the same problem saying no, I use my own name not my husband’s, and no, I’m not Mrs or Miss, I’m Ms. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need a title at all? It all seems archaic to me, like putting Esq after someone’s name. I’ve been told it’s so that it’s clear which gender you are, but why does that matter anyway?

    I remember the fuss back in the late nineties when I was a teacher and wanted to be known as Ms. The church school didn’t like it at all and the children found it confusing as I was the first teacher to request this “privilege” according to the School Governors, who had to approve it. When the kids asked what Ms meant, I said it stood for “mind your own business about my marital status” and I hope that stuck with some of them.

    I’ve had stupid rows with organisations that insist on calling me only Mrs or Miss, and ones that’ll only accept one applicant, as yours did, but insist on that being the male. It does make me laugh though when my husband ends up being addressed using Mr and then my surname!

    I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to explain about a same-sex partner and I bet this really upset all pigeon-holers everywhere. Thanks for an interesting blogpost.

  4. Not sure if you meant to make me laugh out loud but as I’ve had similar experiences, including missing by a day the “take out this cover”, I couldn’t help myself :). Thanks for making me smile and grrr…

  5. I think I’m still just me, married or single, gay or straight, and I’ve never understood why I should be called by a name that defines my marital status. It seems so odd and unnecessary; specially when men aren’t. It’s Ms all the way for me.

  6. Now you really got me confused 😉
    I came to live here 2 1/2 yrs ago and having just divorced, I filled in my tittle as Mrs. I assumed being my age (over 40) meant I had grown out off any Miss or Ms. tittle. As I continued to fill in the forms that passed me as I settled in, I realised every time I filled in Mrs. I was asked for the Mr., whom I had left behind in my old life! Being single, I recently ditched the Mrs. tittle and put down Miss instead. Now what’s all this about Ms.???
    Love the blog though 😉

    1. Hah, thanks for this. Well, I always find it strange when women remain as Mrs when they are divorced, and stranger still when they retain their husband’s surname. Miss, in my opinion is for the woman under 35…or even younger…Ms is for those of us who are more mature, married or not married who want to let the world know we are not 18 (or 20 or 30) anymore, but are independent women! When is the right age to be called Ms? That sounds like another blog to me…Thanks for your lovely comments.

      1. Oops, need to reconsider my tittle 😉 Hope I’ll then be able to keep it till I die…
        Thanks for the enlightment!

  7. I completely agree! And surely so does everybody. So why has no company just crossed this box off its forms yet? If gender is relevant then they could have a box for ‘gender’. Not long ago the poor boy in Kwik Fit was totally embarrassed when he had to ask my marital status just to give my car an MOT. ‘Miss or Mrs’ isn’t helpful to anyone. LG Electronics does not have a box for ‘Ms’, so I have become ‘Mr’ in all our correspondence – which has been lots, because they turn out to be as hopeless at providing fridges as they do at recognising that this is the 21st century. Ladies, let’s start a campaign!

  8. Ummpphhh…another day sacrificed for something important… Can’t every day of the year be the day of all the things/people we want to highlight? If we carry on like this, there won’t be any days left to highlight ourselves 😉 Just kiddin’! I do get your point 🙂

  9. Hate Mrs or Ms titles. Actually, I prefer to be referred to as HRH or Lady or Duchess. Well, HRH is much better. It stays the same whether your’re married to a man or a woman.

  10. I would contact them and set them straight, because insurance companies have teams of lawyers looking over claims every day to find anything that could make the policy invalid.

    There is no harm in informing them of their mistake, but keep a copy of the letter you send them if somewhere down the line you make a claim and they try to back out of paying.

    Insurance is a con, you are betting that you’ll have an accident, fire, whatever, and they are, by taking the premiums, in effect betting that you won’t. Who do you think knows that they have the odds stacked in their favour?

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