16 thoughts on “Booking a Dutch Ferry?

  1. Unlike English, Dutch doesn’t distinguish between ‘Mrs’ and ‘Ms’ — and rightly so. I’m sure that explains this mistake.

  2. Ahh— thanks! That makes absolutely perfect sense. In fact, so much so that I’m tempted to delete the post.

  3. (or write a letter to the ferry company explaining that choosing to translate it into ‘mrs’ in english is a bit ick, and suggesting they use the title that would be the more obvious translation.)

  4. Isn’t the suggestion that “Mrs” is simply the generic women’s–married or not? As late as the 18th century I think women or a certain age were “Mrs” regardless of marital status.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine that feminists, with the laudable intention of eliminating titles that marked women’s marital status introduced the artificial “Ms” instead of pushing to make all women Mrs and eliminating Miss.

    The result initially was to have 3 titles instead of 2: Miss, Mrs and Ms. Soon “Miss” dropped out. So now we have “Mrs” and “Ms” where the latter gets used snarkily to tag women as feminists–in anti-feminist contexts.

    Even after decades of using “Ms” as a neutral title for women, it still has the taint of being made-up and ideologically loaded. It’s even more vexing that in many contexts it’s taken to be a substitute for “Miss”–indicating unmarried status. The suggestion seems to be: there are married women who go by Mrs. And then there are those poor, ugly, unmarried women who couldn’t snag husbands who are therefore feminists and so go by “Ms.”

    OK. It’s a hobby horse, and a pet peeve. I don’t like “Ms.”

  5. What H E Baber says seems spot on to me. Like English, Dutch used to have ‘Mejuffrouw’ (Miss) and ‘Mevrouw’ (Mrs). ‘Mejuffrouw’ has all but disappeared and ‘Mevrouw’ is now used to address any woman, married or unmarried. Snarky uses of ‘Ms’ and silly assumptions about those who prefer ‘Ms’ to ‘Mrs’ are thereby avoided.

  6. According to “Miss Manners” (Judith Martin), “the feeling that [the term Ms.] is too modern is misguided. Although revived in the 20th century, “Ms.” was used as far back as the 17th before the then-respectable title “Mistress” acquired different abbreviations for the married and the unmarried.”

  7. Fine, but was it spelt “Ms”? When I was a kid–a kid speaking New Joizey dialect–we of course called all our teachers “mizzz” whether they were married or unmarried. Both “Mrs” and “Miss” were pronounced “mizzz,” as I suspect they were in 18th century British English where is where American English comes from. It’s so also in Southern, and Black English, a subspecies of Southern: this is colloquial American English. However, I’d still prefer it if what we pronounce as “mizzz” were spelt “Mrs”

  8. I can keep citing things to you, or you can still to your preconceived idea that Ms. is made up and therefore bad, because *you* have bad associations with it. (To me, it conjures a sophisticated woman in a tailored suit. And I grew up in NJ, too, and never called a Mrs. “Mzzz” or a Miss “Mizzz”).

    Here’s Wikipedia’s take, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ms.

    “Ms.”, along with “Miss” and “Mrs.”, began to be used as early as the 17th century as titles derived from the then formal “Mistress”, which, like Mister, did not originally bear reference to marital status.[3][4] “Ms.” however, fell into disuse in favor of the other two titles and was not revived until the 20th century.

    You can check their citations if you want to keep insisting that Ms. was first made up in the 20th century.

  9. I’m no historian–this may be right. The point is that “Ms” is perceived as a made-up, ideologically loaded title and has acquired a snarky, anti-feminist use. I get hit with this snark regularly and I’m sick of it.

    Its too late to change now but I think it would have been strategically better 50 years ago to have introduced “Mrs” rather than “Ms” as the generic woman’s title.

  10. Perhaps it would have been easier. But “Mrs.” has its own connotations, and maybe people didn’t want those, either. I know that I don’t. I’m still ready to defend Ms. I think if more people spoke up we could make some progress. I find it particular galling as a professor to be addressed as “Mrs.”

  11. Why not simply get rid of these titles, when booking a ferry and in lot of other contexts? And why should we have to give a title that signifies our sex to book a ferry anyway?

  12. I’m with Uncia that one shouldn’t need a “title” (gendered or otherwise) to book a ferry. Fine to offer a choice, but make non-specification an option too.

    In one doctor’s office recently, I’ve had the experience of a receptionist being *unable* to register the notion that I, as a woman with grey hair, would hope to be called anything other than “Misses.” Hearing “Mrs.” with my last name is odd, because it carries the implication that the name to follow is the same as a husband’s name, and probably is his father’s father’s (etc.) name.

    Indeed, that (in addition to more directly sexist explanations) might be *part* of the asymmetrical utility of Miss/Mrs. distinctions (compared to marking men’s marital status as a prefix to a name). The title “Mrs.” can alert people to the notion that there may be a different surname in a woman’s background. So, it’s not just the assumption that one is married, but the assumption that one is going by a last name other than the one with which one was born. Thus, of course, this whole discussion is linked to the question of how last names proliferate along gendered lines…

  13. HEB, I didn’t realize that some women felt that way. I address every professional woman as Ms. unless she’s one of those hung-up-on-marriage types (and they let us all know in under a minute that they’re married). Academics are all Dr. or Professor.

    I think it’ll be a great someday when we can refer to all women by their professional designations–Marshall, Officer, Master Corporal, Cleric. How about Junior Academic Smith or Financial Expert Jones?

  14. There’s nothing wrong with “Ms.” per se–I’m just offended by a couple of contexts in which it’s used:

    (1) Where I’m known to be an academic, in contexts where male colleagues are called “Dr” or “Professor,” but I’m called “Ms” and

    (2) In responses to me in writing–I write for the popular press–where writers would ordinarily be referred to by their last name without title but where I, if I’ve written anything even vaguely feminist, get the snarky “MS Baber.”

    “Ms” still hasn’t caught on amongst the folk, at least where I live. Dealing with kids’ teachers, the receptionist at the dentist’s office, or the plumber I’m called “Mrs. Baber.” And when I’m not Dr. or Professor, that’s what I prefer. Not because I’m hung-up-on-marriage but because it’s just plain, ordinary and common.

    I’m puzzled by the remark that you “address every professional women as Ms.” though. Why just “professional” women? Why not amateur women too? Seriously, this seems a manifestation of the Three Gender System where there are men, women and Us, the unisex elite. “Professional women,” women amongst Us, are “Ms.”–if they aren’t “Dr.” or “Professor.” But of course the cleaning lady, when we’re being polite and not calling her by her first name, and other non-professional women are “Mrs.” Sorry. Another pet peeve.

    Anyway, I’m married and prefer Mrs. to Ms. because it’s regular, ordinary, industry standard, unselfconscious and no big deal

  15. No, I consider cleaning ladies to be professionals, too. I’m poor, remember?
    By professional, I meant anybody that I’m in a working relationship with, anybody that doesn’t consider herself my friend yet. Unless we’re on-line. Then it’s easier to use pseudonym initials.

    Then there’s stage performers. IF they come and talk to me, I’ll use their stage names. Sometimes I’ll throw in a MIZZZ Crystal Blue Persuasion (or whatever the name is) for drama, if the torch song was particularly moving.

  16. This is why I use Dr everywhere. On my utility bills, my house insurance, everywhere. I am also going to change it on my bank accounts. I never thought I’d use my title, but when people ask “is that Mrs or Miss?” I have come to really love answering “it’s Dr, actually”. Arrogant, but at least it gets me out of this entire anglophone female title mess.

    Besides, isn’t the issue with Mrs that it is a genitive? i.e. it indicates possession? that is what i always thought…. That is certainly different in Dutch; in Dtuch Mr (i.e. Meneer) comes from Mijn Heer, which is ‘my lord/sir/man’. Mevr (i.e mevrouw) comes from Mijn Vrouwe and is ‘my lady/woman’. So it was quite easy to adopt mevrouw for everyone…… In Dutch i never use my title……..

Comments are closed.