What’s in a Woman’s Title and Surname?

Why is a woman’s title have to indicate their marital status on documents? Yesterday I had to complete an application form and include quite a few details about myself.

A Woman’s Title

There was a list of “titles” e.g., Dr, Professor, Mr, Mrs, Ms, and Miss. It reminded me of something that I had planned to write about some time ago. Why is it that a woman’s titlehave to indicate one’s marital status? Men do not have to.  If a woman is a Dr or Professor, her marital status is not an issue? Strange.

Miss, Mrs, Ms?

I remember once-upon-a-time, that we were addressed with our titles. Mr Smith, Mrs Smith etc, but these titles are rarely used these days. I recall when it was an insult to call an older person by their first name unless one had been requested to do so. You’d always refer to someone who was senior to you, by their title. That rule has gone. So why is a woman’s title, which refers to their marital status of any value?

Changing Surnames

Another issue that irks me is that In Australia and other Christian style countries when a woman married, she took on the surname of her husband. I know a few women maintained their “maiden” name, but it was rare. It was just “accepted” with no discussion – and is mainly in this modern time.

Do all brides take on their husband’s surname?

It is something I regret. The person I was prior to my marriage disappeared. As a result of my marriage, it was difficult for many of the people who knew me by my maiden name, especially school and work friends in the time before I married, to find me. I am not sure that they wanted to find me, but I have often looked online for old female school friends, but cannot find them. I don’t know if they married, and assume that most did, but there is no way of finding them.

As well, I had to often provide proof that of my changed surname. Something that males never have to do. Many of my significant certificates are in my maiden name, and I wonder sometimes if that person still exists.

Apart from the fact that it is often annoying to have to carry documents to prove your new name, I find it annoying that males never have to do it.

I could go on, but readers of this will understand, especially if they are female.

Common Titles

Additionally, if one divorces, the man continues with the name that he was born with, while the woman generally has to carry the name of the bloke she no longer wants in her life. Many women take on the surname of their new spouse too – further complicating life when certain documents are required.

From Wikipedia

  • Mr – Adult male (regardless of marital status)
  • Mrs – Adult females (usually just for married females, widows, and divorcées)
  • Ms – Adult females (used by those who are not strongly identified with their marital status or don’t wish their marital status to be known; the female equivalent of Mr)
  • Mx – Does not indicate gender, usually an option for non-binary people (the gender-neutral equivalent of Mr and Ms)
  • Miss – Formal title for unmarried females and for female children
  • Master – For male children: Young boys were formerly addressed as “Master [first name].” This was the standard form for servants to use in addressing their employer’s minor sons. It is also the courtesy title for the eldest son of a Scottish laird.
  • Maid – Archaic: When used as a title before a name (and not as a general term for a young domestic worker housemaid girl), this was a way to denote an unmarried woman, such as the character Maid Marian.
  • Madam (also madame)”

I would recommend that we create a new “title” for women that does not relate to their marital status, or we just delete these titles, which are rarely used.  Maybe Mx Hill?

And, I’d like it to become law that a woman does not have to change her surname to that of her spouse. How I wish I had not done so!

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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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