Ms.

Title

Ms.

Description

It’s jarring to be reading about the revolutionary activities of Susan B. Anthony or Ida B. Wells and come upon them referred to as Miss Anthony, Miss Wells. It feels demeaning, and anachronistic - though of course it was unexceptional at the time. [Honorific thread.]

The advent of Ms. as a marriage-neutral honorific is a story likely well-known to @DailySuffragist readers - and memorably told by Anne Fadiman in her essay “The His’er Problem.”

But it turns out that Ms. appeared as early as 1901! @bgzimmer explained in 2009 that it was proposed as a way to avoid the faux pas of incorrect address, and even got a little bit of attention at the time. (Can we have the On Language column back, please @nytmag?)

Zimmer describes how it hovered at the edge of feminist consciousness before Sheila Michaels led the crusade in the 1970s.

The Times was recalcitrant, though. 👇for the pretty marvelous story of how women finally forced Abe Rosenthal to cave - in 1986!

I wonder what would have happened had it caught on more in 1901. It might have been like Bloomers/dress reform - a good idea that was abandoned when it seemed more trouble than it was worth. Or we might have been Ms. much sooner!🤷 #Suffrage100 

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

24/04/2020

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Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Ms.,” Daily Suffragist, accessed October 3, 2022, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/360.

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