In 1986, The New York Times printed the prefix ‘Ms’ for the first time when identifying a woman.
Inking those two letters on paper did not come without resistance; Times stockholder and feminist author Paula Kassell fought for the term’s relevance with then-publisher, Arthur Sulzburg.
A few months later, the prefix was used in court documents detailing a Supreme Court ruling on a sexual harassment case, in which “Ms. Mechelle Vinson” won claims made against her supervisor.
Now, more than three decades after the long-fought battle to win the right to be identified irrelevant of age or marital status, I have only just learned what ‘Ms.’ means.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud explains why the prefix Ms is so significant. (Post continues.)
A feminist statement, to be a ‘Ms’ is to be whoever you want to be. Not a ‘lonely’ unmarried ‘Miss’, or a ‘Mrs’ as determined by the man you’re married to, but a woman with the right to keep your marital status to your god damn self if you so please.
Despite me being 30 years late to the party, this revelation will completely change my perspective of the four little boxes at the top of my health insurance form, rental application and driver’s licence renewal.
Until today, I’d been ticking myself as a ‘Miss’ under the misguided belief being a ‘Ms’ was a spiteful reminder for women of a certain age that they hadn’t found a man.