What’s in a name? A rose by any other name is alleged to smell just as sweet after all, so does it make a difference?
I’ve hosted a couple of guest posts recently about choosing baby names, but today I want to talk about titles.
The BBC are reporting today of a town in France that has banned the use of the word Mademoiselle, on the back of a nationwide campaign by feminist groups to ban the word everywhere.
I am behind them 100% and all in favour of a similar spring clean of values in this country.
Why on earth in a society that claims to strive for gender equality would you discriminate between men and women in such an obvious way? Why should women have to define themselves by their marital status, by calling themselves Miss or Mrs, while men are allowed to be a Mr regardless of whether they are married or not?
And yes I know there is always Ms, and I do use it, but while Miss and Mrs still exist, Ms is always regarded as a bit odd isn’t it? When you use Ms, you’re seen to be making some sort of point, and are clearly a bitter spinster feminist type trying to defend the fact that you can’t bag yourself a hubby.
When the European Parliament banned the use of the terms ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ in 2009, there was uproar, with male MEPs calling it ‘political correctness gone mad’ and vowing to ignore the ruling. Many of the key national papers took the same stance, choosing to ridicule the ban, and reporting it in the context of what are clearly regarded as similarly bizarre rulings, such as the straightening of bananas and the multi-lingual instruction requirements for rubber boots.
The argument against the French campaign is that the whole thing is trivial. It’s just a word right? What does it really matter in the context of struggling for equal pay, pension rights and women’s representation in government?
It may be just a word, but the fact that it is seen as normal and acceptable for women to be asked to define themselves at such a basic level, based purely on the state of their personal lives, reflects deeply ingrained attitudes that need to be challenged. How can we expect pay, pensions and politics to change when we can’t even address something as fundamental as this?