The Thinking 

Ms. as the Standard

March 14, 2017

DAN R. writes:

Does the White House spokeswoman and married daughter of the strong social conservative Mike Huckabee really prefer to be called Ms. Sanders (example within link), as per the New York Times stylebook? Seemingly a small matter, and no doubt a complaint “a day late,” the use of the thoroughly modern term to the exclusion of the traditional Mrs. and Miss has become ubiquitous in mainstream media. It continues to rankle each time I notice it. In the case of the Times it is an annoyingly obvious measure of their dedication to political correctness. In the bigger picture it demeans and almost unconsciously alters the status of marriage, contributing to the overall rot. Taking it to the absurd, the worst-case example I can recall is in the credits of a movie remake, where the 14-year-old star is referred to in one of the credits as “Ms.” I think it’s safe to call it Gloria Steinem’s greatest “accomplishment.”

— Comments —

Katherine writes:

During the presidential campaign, news articles never referred to Hillary as “Ms.” Clinton.  She was always “Mrs.” Clinton.  I wondered why the double standard.  Seems oxymoronic.

Laura writes:

That’s a great point. Now that I think of it, you’re right. Obviously they wanted to downplay her feminism. “Ms. Clinton” would have been too obvious. Sort of like calling her “Comrade Clinton.”

Susan-Anne White writes from Northern Ireland:

I agree with Dan R. I detest the designation “Ms” and insist on being referred to as “Mrs.” Our daughter is undertaking a correspondence course at home and her female tutor will not tell us if she is “Miss” or “Mrs” preferring to be called “Ms.” This we refuse to do, so every time we contact her by e-mail, we designate her “Miss/Mrs” but never “Ms.” The late Phyllis Schlafly said, “Don’t call me Ms, it means misery.” She was right. I am somewhat troubled though because I seem to remember seeing Mrs. Wood use the designation “Ms.” Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Laura writes:

Yes, I have used it and I believe it is a useful title in the small number of cases when you simply don’t know whether a woman is married or not. I can also understand those who say it shouldn’t be used at all.

Dan R. writes:

Regarding Hillary: Most of all, I think the media wanted to promote the fiction of Mrs. Clinton’s marriage, which by all appearances is one in name only and for years has existed as a political partnership.

Laura writes:

Good point. She really is more of a Ms. than a Mrs.

Bruce C. writes:

I remember during the campaign when Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke referred to Hillary as “Mrs. Bill Clinton” which REALLY made the feminists angry.

Laura writes:


You know, before there was “Ms.,” the modern world began to obliterate that beautiful custom of referring to a woman by her husband’s full name. Now that was oppression.

Katherine writes:

You are exactly right — they needed to downplay her feminism. And not one of her feminist followers ever objected to the use of “Mrs.”

At least, it didn’t do her any good.

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