Excuse Me, Miss/Mrs./Ms.?

Nancy Gibbs is having a bit of an identity crisis, as she has several monikers, depending on the circumstances. Yet as she explains in Time magazine, switching between "Mrs." and "Ms." and "Miss," isn't as confusing as it may seem.


Gibbs explores the tricky task of picking an "official" name of sorts and sticking to it, as she finds it natural that different people in her life would address her in a different manner: "At work and out in the world, I'm Ms. Gibbs; at my daughters' school and the pediatrician, I am Mrs. May; to a few people who've known me since I was 2, Miss Nancy." Gibbs, who is married but retains her maiden name, also notes that "whether my children's friends call me Ms. Gibbs or Mrs. May or any combination of the two, I view it as a sign of respect and don't worry about the particulars. My husband never remotely suggested that he was bothered by my not taking his name; in fact, he's accustomed to occasionally answering to Mr. Gibbs."

Gibbs argues that multiple names aren't really a big deal, as the choice to be Ms. or a Miss or a Mrs. is the true feminist victory, whether or not people use these terms or not. "All these identities are me," she writes, "Ms. when I'm out slaying dragons, Mrs. when I'm in the company of those I love most, Miss when I want to stay home under the covers and daydream." I'm inclined to agree with her, as I think most people are trying to be respectful when using formal titles of any kind, but I'm a bit torn on how I would react if I'd chosen to keep my maiden name, and my Ms., and people still addressed me as "Mrs. So-and-So." I suppose it would depend on the situation; if it was someone, as Gibbs explains, like her child's friend, who is surely just trying to be respectful and assumes that the child's mother is "Mrs. Same Last Name As The Kid," I don't think it would bother me too much. But it it were a friend or family member who insisted upon calling me by a name I explicitly didn't choose, simply to push some sort of value system on me, the situation would be quite different.

What do you think, commenters? Are you a Miss, a Ms., or Mrs.? And do you mind when someone calls you by a name you don't prefer?

Who Am I To You? [Time]



I took my husband's last name when I married, but I still prefer "Ms." in all situations. However, I am not offended by Miss, Ms., or Mrs.

People who don't know I'm married usually say Miss. People who do know I'm married are split between Mrs. and Ms, usually along generational lines. I don't correct anyone.

The one thing I DO correct, however, is "Mrs. Joshua Lastname." 'Scuse me, no. I took his last name, not his first. His identity is not mine. So if I get wedding invitations to "Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Lastname" I send back the response card "Mr. and Mrs. LACOMTESSE (bold, underline, underline, underline) Lastname." #mrs