Why does the UK press always refer to H. Clinton as “Mrs Clinton” ?  Do they have no concept of the marriage neutral Ms. ?  I don’t see many referrals to the young Princes as Master Will and Master Harry.  Marriage status should not be singly applied to a female candidate and not a male one.


13 responses to “Titles

  1. NFAH: If Hillary Clinton had stuck to her maiden name for professional purposes, she would be called Ms. Rodham, just like Cherie Blair was referred to as Ms Booth when her work as a QC was reported on. That, FWIW, is the etiquette for the use of ‘Ms.’ a dubious sounding honorific, if there was one.

    I found in Switzerland, people refer to all adult women as Frau (technically Mrs) irrespective of their marital status which is technically not the correct usage of Frau (unmarried maedchen must be called ‘Fraulein’). But considering they waited till 1971 to give their women the vote, I think they better not cite feminist rhetoric in their defence.

  2. Well technically she did keep her name, using the full “Hillary Rodham Clinton” and I still object to the use of “Mrs.” ever. What would I be called here as a divorced woman???

  3. Well, she never used Rodham for any length of time for creating an independent career, did she? Unlike Ms Booth, who benefited immensely from being Mrs Blair too but was a QC long before Tony Blair was anybody.

    Anyway you were smart to retain your maiden name 🙂 although I still am of the view that ‘Ms.’ is a dubious sounding honorific which allows random people to start guessing at one’s marital status. Most single women, who never married and at least those I have met in the UK, like to use Miss, whatever their age.

    The female academic, with whom I worked last term, was asked once by a student – is that Miss or Mrs . She came back pat – It is Dr . And why not? We have got a ‘Dr.’ to prefix our names with, and we should ask the hoi polloi to use it.

    That said, I have a friend, who has a JD and styles herself ‘Dr.’ which is not really right (and I mean it morally). I just let it be known with sharp intakes of breath when I hear her describing herself thus to those who do not know better…

  4. I wasn’t smart, I actually did the Hillary Rodham Clinton thing and both kept my maiden name and added my ex-husband’s name. Total nightmare. My first handfull of publications have it hyphenated (because they wouldn’t put all three otherwise!) and I had to get it reverted to my maiden name as part of the divorce. I then had to re-order my college diplomas that had the married name on them. It’s too bad I can’t get the journals to drop the married name off the publications, it’s a bad reminder every time I have to see a paper with the married name on it. I was young and stupid!!!

  5. Oh and I hate HATE the use of “Miss” overe here in jolly old England. It drives me crazy how often that comes up. I used to get emails from a student at Queen Mary asking my advice on a technical problem and “from” column would read “Miss Bridget Jones” instead of just “Bridget Jones”. I’m equally dismissive of the people who leave “Dr” in front of their name in the email system. Get over the bloody titles and just use your given names.

  6. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on “Ms” as I think it is the only appropriate neutral opposite of Mr.

  7. “I’m equally dismissive of the people who leave “Dr” in front of their name in the email system.”

    Oh in Britain there are many advantages to be had and after investing time and money in the degree, I am quite happy to take them all. Staff in hotels, restaurants, airline check-in desks etc are all extra gracious and nice. So be it, I say 🙂 Let them be impressed while they are.

    On Miss/ Ms/ Mrs: I think if all women started using Mrs – irresp of marital status – it would work too. Works in the Continent. In hierarchical societies of the kind I come from, people only call their seniors – and strangers – Sir and Madam, so this whole drama does not arise. We have respectful suffixes too a bit like Japanese ‘San’ so we avoid the minefield altogether.

    So based on these observations, I believe that only the Anglophone world has this artificial distinction alive.

    We can disagree but this indeed is a point to ponder, no?

  8. As an innocent male who is always nonplussed over how to address the females I encounter professionally, I use “Dr” whenever I can, because that way I don’t have to worry about whether a name I am unfamiliar with, such as, for example “Shefaly”, is male or female. Avoid inadvertent insults, and flatter those who might thereby be flattered. And for the rest, I find “Ms” to be a godsend. Now I can also avoid inadvertent insults to any females I meet and greet. Why shoudn’t the female prefix be as marital-status-independent as is “Mr”?

    Hillary’s problem is that she has herself shifted back and forth several times in the last 20 years, depending on what she wanted to do. In 1992 when Bill was in full bimbo-eruption whack-a-mole mode, she was a subservient housewife with a headband and a plate full of chocolate chip cookies, to disarm the traditionalist married female independent voters. After that election when she took over the health care task force, she insisted on Rodham, went back to HRC for the 1996 re-election, etc. When she is trying to attract votes (married women in the US vote majority Republican, single women vote majority Democrat), she plays married and emphasizes Clinton as her name in order to exploit Bill’s popularity in some groups. She has elected to go both ways over and over, so she now confirms that you can’t reinvent yourself too many times before people simply zone out and pick whatever reference they want to use.

    But this one is a low blow…: “That said, I have a friend, who has a JD and styles herself ‘Dr.’ which is not really right (and I mean it morally). ” Hey, the degree says “juris doctor”. What about PharmD and EdD, etc.? (for the record, I would never call an ambulance chaser “doctor”; in that context, you need to help, not hinder the situation).

  9. Sorry, just noticed I missed the note about the change of name. I am sorry to hear of the troubles and confusion, although journals who will take papers with 14 authors are being a bit uppity if they would not take a name consisting of 3, well, names.

    I know of at least one man who took his wife’s name by deed poll, just to make a feminist point. But sadly, I know of more incidences where my well-educated and professional women friends had confrontations and actual fights with their husbands and in-laws over their determination to keep their maiden names because they already had a professional identity associated with it. A smaller number of men I know do not care either way and are actually happy for their kids to have double-barrelled (mom-dad) family names. But of course, the schools raise eyebrows.

    I think it is probably time for us as society to rethink if the whole name change thing is necessary at all. This whole thing is very messy. What’s in a name, asked the Bard? I will tell you, Mister Why-do-you-not-call-yourself-William-Hathaway!

  10. Kurmudge:

    On that low-blow thing, I think an informal opinion in America says that Dr may be used as an honorific but that the honour is usually reserved for a degree considered the highest academic achievement in a field. Is JD really the highest academic achievement in the legal field of study? What about LLM or Doctor of Laws that people go on to do? The technicality on which this turns is the ‘terminal’ nature of the degree. And that indeed is an illustration of a lawyer’s mind at work!

    And as far as I know, from another American lawyer friend, not all Bar Associations allow the practice and it can be reported as a malpractice.

    My primary objection to her use of Dr is that she uses it as an ornament, as a decorative piece like a plume hat. The English equivalent would be to purchase the title Laird or Lord. Never classy…

    PS: So will you start using Dr after the JD or after you take on a PhD in 2010s? 😉 I owe you an email …

  11. NFAH: Positively the last comment …

    Kurmudge: I suppose the technicality of not being misleading was ok when she worked in IT industry (IP stuff) but now she works for a biotech firm active in the area of oncology managing clinical trials from a legal standpoint. So could it be misleading? I think so. Isn’t that the ABA opinion too?

  12. Frankly, I think that lawyers who call themselves “doctor” are full of themselves. But the degrees are a bit funny- the LLM is actually a Master’s degree tied to a specific specialty field, like tax law, admiralty, etc. I think the only “Doctor of Laws” degrees I’ve seen have been honorary, for giving commencement speeches. I think that people who get self-impressed with titles, legal or otherwise, probably need to get a life. Same with those who get an honorary degree and flaunt the title thereafter.

    I’m not aware of any ABA rules of professional conduct that proscribe parading around and introducing yourself as “doctor” based on a JD, there might be a rule in a particular state (professional discipline is all done by state, not nationally).

  13. Hi – Came over from Jant (Lord Celery) – I distinctly remember that Hillary pretty much had to stop calling herself Rodham, and now has dropped the Rodham Clinton for plain Hillary Clinton. Different types of the same sexism on either side of the pond it appears.

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