Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Ms Petition reponses

Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on November 18, 2011

Here are some responses to the epetition that Ms should be the only title for women.

This first one from the Fawcett Society is a tad disappointing.

Dear Jeanne,

Many thanks for your email. Whilst important, the issue of gendered titles does not fall under any of our key current campaign areas. Regrettably, we cannot circulate your petition amongst our members, but we do wish you the best of luck with your campaign.

Yours sincerely,

Fawcett

So spurred on by this I sent out some more emails

 I am contacting organisations who have an Equal Opportunities policy as part of this campaign with this simple questionnaire.  I would be grateful  for your response.

1)      Do  you agree that there should be ONLY Ms as the title for women.

2)   Is your organisation prepared to change your forms to have ONLY Ms as the choice of title for women?

3)    Will you sign the e petition?

In the words of Ms Doyle, Housekeeper,  Craggy Island, Ireland;  ‘ Ah go, go , go on’.

These are responses from colleagues in the BHA.

1) A civil liberties issue? Make ‘Mrs’ illegal? Sounds like political correctness to me.

2)Being male, it’s not an issue that affects me directly, so my opinion probably doesn’t count for much, and I wouldn’t expect to be given a vote on the matter…

But I agree that it’s ironic to argue that freedom can be enhanced by removing personal choice.

If it were the case that women HAD to adopt the title ‘miss’ if they were unmarried or ‘mrs’ if they were married, I’d agree that there was a problem.

Personally, I think that the more women adopt the ‘ms’ title, the less ‘baggage’ it will carry. Surely education is a better alternative than legal enforcement? How about making ‘ms’ more appealing ,rather than making it mandatory? If a greater number of women still opt to refer to themselves as ‘miss’ or ‘mrs’, have you really got the right to tell them they’re wrong and force them to change?

Surely the democratic and respectful solution is to present your argument but ultimately allow individuals to choose for themselves?

3) Sorry Jeanne – I am maybe too old to be giving a view here, especially as I have been a Mrs for over 40 years, but I personally wouldn’t be worried at all.  I don’t like Ms myself and never have – it has an ugly uncertainty to the sound of the word which I do not care for at all.

4) I am quite surprised that people can devote so much time and effort to this kind of thing when there are so many glaring inequalities in our country which desperately need action and activism. How about inequalities of opportunity for people with physical or mental disability, lack of care for the elderly who are left mouldering alone to die slowly and miserably, lack of the right to choose how and when we die,? I could go on ad infinitum, and know where I would rather try and change things. These things really matter. And I speak as someone who was a pretty fierce some feminist years ago. I guess age brings a different perspective on what is important.
5)Submissive men again, putting up with being discriminated against.

This thread should be asking why I can’t have three titles instead of one, why should wimin be the only sex to get three titles?

We have Master which could be used for non-married men, there is no abbreviation for this, I suggest Mstr. would be ok.

For the Metro-sexual man who doesn’t want to be identified as married or single, we could have Mrrrr, for which men would have to learn to roll their ‘r’s, this would also be of benefit in later life when studying Latin languages.

While we are at it, perhaps someone could also start a petition against Wimbledon Tennis, they discriminate against men every year. Why is the prize money the same for men and women when men play best of five and women play best of three, surely in this world of equality, each sex should be playing the same amount of sets for the same amount of pay?

Submissive men, shafted again.

6) So Doctor, Professor. Rev, Major, Colonel should not be options as well? ONLY Ms.

Smacks of the worst aspects of political correctness to me – any woman who objects to being called Mrs or Miss can make their wishes known but to make it a legal requirement on Governement documentation? Give me a break.

7) Although the wording of the petition comes over too strong for me, I think the underlying principle is sound. Having to address women according to their marital status is anachronistic and implies that that status is significant in a way it’s not for men. As humanists, and being concerned for gender equality, we should be aware of the subtle ways that society tries to categorise women in a way it does not men, and the effects that can have on both sexes. 

Of course there are far more significant issues facing women in particular and all people in general. But if we take the approach that we should ignore those lesser issues, how can we possibly justify fighting for the rights of the non-religious, who don’t exactly have that hard a time in our first world country, when there are children starving in the third world? And it’s not as if it’s going to cost us much to drop the Miss/Mrs and just use Ms.

8) I still think we should use just our names: then the problem would go away. But if you want titles, you have to decide which titles- and if you want to have Dr, Prof, Major etc then why not also have Electrician, Plumber, Accountant and so on? Why should some people and not others get a special badge of heirarchical worth, merely based on the perceived historical value of that title? Surely people should be valued for themselves and not accorded (either consciously or unconsciously) various levels of status and privelege merely on the basis of an archaic title?

9)  Why do you assume that it is assigning a special hierarchical value by giving someone a different “title”?

Mind you the honorific “Right Honourable” or “Honourable” as applied to Ministers / MPs is laughable when some of them are defintiely most dishonourable.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

SOME Humanists don’t seem to understand that Humanism strives for equality, fairness and injustice. There were two mentions of ‘political correctness’ which disappoints me coming from fellow Humanists but not surprised that they were male!

I received this reply from Jane Ellison our MP here in Battersea when I mentioned it in a letter to her about abolishing the bloody Bishops in the House of Lords.

“I was very interested to hear that you have started an e-petition on the Government’s website, which would make the ‘Ms’ the default female title. A default ‘Mrs’ title, in my experience, is an anachronism –  I would much prefer Ms, and use this in letters to female constituents who do not indicate any personal preference. I have tried, not always succcessfully, to persuade other bodies to do the same and, as you know, use the title ‘Ms’ myself.”

Thank you Jane. She always replies to my letters unlike our own previous Labour MP Martin Linton. Perhaps his office was not so well organised. 

Jen Freeman Submitted on9th January 2012 :   I agree that a woman should be given an adult title when she comes of age at 18, just as a man does, and need not go on using the title “Miss” (which manages to sound both spinsterish and childish at the same time) until a man swoops in an marries her!
Nor should we automatically be expected to disclose our marital status every time we state or write our names, or fill out forms. If a man need not disclose his status at such times, then it makes no sense that a woman should have to either.
However, I am all for freedom of choice, and if a woman wishes to announce her marriage by changing her status, she should have the right to do so – whether I agree with it or not.
The key with this I think is to educate young women and girls and inform them that they do have the option of taking an adult title at age 18, and that for modern, liberated women who support equality of the sexes, this is the sane way to go!

Thank you Jen. My point is that there should never have been any discrimination/differentiation in formal/official titles in the first place. The Ms was only introduced after pressure from feminists who had only asked for ONE title for women Ms and NOT the 3 options which was a typical fudge/compromise introduced in the 70s.  All I am asking is to put right the discrimination by only having one title for men and one for women. It is called EQUALITY.  The idea of this being a ‘freedom of choice’ issue is spurious. If we believe that there should not be equality on this then men AND and women should be offered the same options about declaring whether they are married, single or indeterminate! If you agree with that then some panel/civil servant/poll/referendum would have to come up with the appropriate abbreviations for men which would be nonsensicale.

This is my response to my fellow Humanists:  This discussion has moved away from the original point that I made about the discrimination/differentiation of gendered titles on official forms. This is a simple issue of equality and getting rid of a discriminatory practice which was only introduced on official forms in the past few decades in Britain. If some women continue to use the old, demeaning discriminatory titles we can’t stop them.

The ‘freedom of choice’ issue is spurious and belongs with the logic of ‘When did you stop beating your wife’? There should NOT have been a choice of title options that women have to fill in. Some internet forms will NOT be processed until we have made a choice. This not something that men are confronted with.

It is interesting to note that there have been more responses from men some misogynistic. As the Humanist/atheist community is predominantly male it is not surprising that some of them are mysogynistic despite the notion that Humansim is supposed to incorporate notions of equality especially gender equality. 

I well know that this is not important compared to some of the glaring inequalities of pay/opportunity/involvement in public life and problems that women/girls experience from sexual/domestic violence/demeaning pornographic imagery/prostitution etc but it is a symptom of it and one that could be easily remedied. As Humanists we should be aware that it is the male created religions/religious culture that is manifestly misogynistc and influential in all societies. As I have said before the anti-god squad is mostly male which may well be another reason why many women are not prepared to join this club.    

And the BHA forms/petitions that we have to fill in IS one place to start.

On cue a response from one of the misogynists.

10) Oh dear – women haters abound on this thread. Probably the same as all those anti-Semites that criticise Israel\’s policies 🙂

Get a grip!

One of the women replied:

 11)Oh my goodness – I don’t think that is fair at all!  First of all I think you probably mean ‘men haters’ and second, tell me please where you find any women, other than the OP, expressing a view that discusses this subject in terms of so-called male superiority?   Jeanne is entitled to her view.  I don’t agree with her and neither do some others, but she is still entitled to her view.  The rest of us have talked in much more general terms and mostly about whether or not titles are necessary at all!  I think there is probably more of a consensus here that we’d rather not – though I have to say I haven’t gone through this and actually counted!

Addressing the post and not the poster seems to me to be a much more courteous way of dealing with debates in fora such as these, indeed ESPECIALLY in a Humanist forum!

Oh dear – women haters abound on this thread. Probably the same as all those anti-Semites that criticise Israel\’s policies 🙂

Get a grip!

Oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh!

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2 Responses

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  1. Charles Cowling said, on November 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Well, I agree that this is nowhere near the top of the glaring equalities list, but it does come high on the achievable reforms list. I agree with you. But I’m not sure this is an equal opps thing. The solution lies in the hands of women. As a man I wouldn’t want to interfere — but I’m cheering from the touchline.

  2. Jen Freeman said, on January 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I agree that a woman should be given an adult title when she comes of age at 18, just as a man does, and need not go on using the title “Miss” (which manages to sound both spinsterish and childish at the same time) until a man swoops in an marries her!
    Nor should we automatically be expected to disclose our marital status every time we state or write our names, or fill out forms. If a man need not disclose his status at such times, then it makes no sense that a woman should have to either.
    However, I am all for freedom of choice, and if a woman wishes to announce her marriage by changing her status, she should have the right to do so – whether I agree with it or not.
    The key with this I think is to educate young women and girls and inform them that they do have the option of taking an adult title at age 18, and that for modern, liberated women who support equality of the sexes, this is the sane way to go!


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