Emily Post would hate me. Apparently, we use “Miss” is used for young, unmarried women, usually under 18. “Ms.” is used for unmarried women and “Mrs.” for married women. Can someone explain to me WHY this matters in business communications? I am making a case that it should be discontinued from use in business communications as unnecessary and confusing.
Here’s why I am advocating for doing away with the married distinction for women in ALL business communications:
- 1. It doesn’t matter. Why does it matter if a female client or prospect or vendor is married? If you give me a reason, then why doesn’t the same reason apply to men? If you say it does, why don’t they have a married vs. unmarried distinction? Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Do you treat a female different for business purposes if they are married? Isn’t this someone of an invasion of privacy for those that don’t want to draw attention to their private lives? Seriously….give me an example of why it matters.
- It’s confusing. When I meet prospects or contacts and send follow up correspondence, many times I don’t know (or care) if they are married and so EVERY FEMALE gets a “Ms.” distinction. I am sorry if the Mrs. crowd is offended but I just have no knowledge or want to have knowledge of anyone’s personal circumstances. If it was the standard to use the “Ms.” for all female communications, there wouldn’t be that awkward pause at a party or hesitation to reach out to a female contact for fear of offending them.
- It’s a little pre-1960s. I’m not trying to call it misogynistic but…..females get the distinction and men don’t. I’m just saying. It’s the same as the story behind saying “man and wife” versus “husband and wife” at weddings—-there is an underlying tone that women change their identities once they get married and men don’t. Let that sink in for a little bit and eve if you don’t fully agree with me, at least admit I have a point.
Now FOR THE RECORD, I am not saying everyone in business MUST do away with the distinction but it is better if its an accepted practice to only use “Ms.” for females because married women would be less likely to get offended because its a generally accepted practice. For all you married women out there that are PROUD to be married—keep on being proud! To me this makes practical sense. If you want to be addressed as “Mrs. John Smith” in social settings, by all means have fun. I hate the practice but that’s just me. But in business settings, “Miss”, “Ms.” and “Mrs.” are just flat out unnecessary and cumbersome.