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I'm a Miss and I'm not afraid to use it


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In a world of increasing gender equality, the issue of salutations remains complicated.

Whilst recently completing some research, I wanted to look into the ratings of various journals.

A search through my university library recommended a journal guide, and as I clicked through to register I was met with a dilemma.

Application form

When entering by personal details I could choose many salutations, from Mr and Mrs, to Lord and Lady. I could have been a Professor or a Doctor, a Sir or a Right Honourable. 

However, what I couldn't be was a Miss.

The status-ambiguous honorific Ms, yes, but not Miss. In one fell swoop, the website had denied me the identity I choose for myself for the sake of political correctness. 

Ms first arose in the 17th Century, but only really began to grow in usage during the 1970s.

It's use is in no way an unattractive proposal: a salutation which need never change during the course of a woman's life, akin to the way a man, upon reaching maturity, can lay claim to Mr until his dying day.

By using Ms, a woman can be single, married or divorced and nobody need ever know.

After all, whose business is it anyway? Certainly not that of a work colleague or online shop. 

It's also important to acknowledge that we're living in a time of change where honorifics and identities are concerned.

In 2015, Mx, the gender-neutral salutation, was added to the dictionary and earlier this year, HSBC embraced the term.

More recently, NHS England announced that people will be able to choose to be known as Mx on online forms for organ donation and European Health Cards, and will no longer have to declare their gender at all, which is clearly a huge improvement for those who identify as Mx.

It is this inclusion where my problem lies.

My personal preference is to identify as a Miss. By doing so, I might reveal my unmarried status, but I am utterly unconcerned by it.

In 21st Century Britain, any stigma attached to being the wrong side of 30 and not having a ring on it has, thankfully, all but vanished.

Being unmarried has not affected my career prospects or defined who I am in any way. I therefore feel no need to obscure my status by using the title Ms. 

There may be others whose circumstances are different and who want to be known as Ms or Mx for their own personal reasons.

But that is, ultimately, what this is: a personal choice, one which was taken away from me by an otherwise innocuous website. My choice is no less valid and important than anybody else's choice. 

Therefore, I'd like to see a whole range of salutations open to people, who can choose how much or how little to reveal about their identity.

This, to my mind, would be true equality, and allow all to be who they wished to be.

Image: Alpha Stock Images

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