Thursday, March 09, 2006

Miss or Mistake?

Phil brought it up so blame him, but I have been thinking about this in the last few days. Honestly, I've probably spent a lot of my time thinking about it because it's quite fundamental to who I am. I spend my day being called a title and a last name. Personally, I prefer being called by my first name by students but that isn't going to happen at the school I'm at. And yes, it does happen in some schools. I don't think the title adds any kind of authority with kids (I called my friends' parents Mr and Mrs right up until I was in my late teens, kids now do not do this at all, not even in prep!) - and so it would be nice to be just Marianne sometimes.

The little Miss in me is playful and mischevious though. When somone refers to her I am immediately reminded of my youth and place - my elders say it patronisingly but with a wink and sometimes, to be frank I prefer it to any other. It's sort of sweet. But sometimes it just seems a bit strange and beneath me, or beneath anyone over the age of 16.

I am a Ms as well. Ms does not add anything to my personality except professionalism and if I'm going to have any title at all, it might as well be a professional one. It also implies that I am a feminist (not a "feminist..but"), which I am. I believe in Ms, she has served me well - and when people slip up and call me Miss I refer back to the Ms in my head and she assures me it's okay (they'll pay. ha). But when I try to write her down in front of my name, somehow it does not seem right. When people say it, I tend to laugh because it sounds a bit wrong. I cannot embrace all of her, for sometimes I am not Ms. I am young and unsure and not always steadfast in everything I do - and Ms intends to imply that I should be.

Miss and girl are not the same and although I don't always choose Miss, I do choose girl. Anyone who has ever studied an inch of semantics will be able to tell you indeed that a rose by any other name does not smell as sweet. Every word, has behind it a wide and rich history - of glory or pain or subservience (especially gender and racially related terms). Each word is representative of a lot more than the word implies. When one uses a word, they use it's whole history as well.

So, despite this, or perhaps in spite of it; girl is my title of choice. Lady is refined, she is held up on a pedestal and oft she is thrown down from that pedestal in disgrace, when she doesn't measure up to her own title. I don't want to be her. I don't feel like her. Ma'am is too old and I am not a madame, nor will ever be. Woman is somehow lower than girl, and at the same time the grown up version. But she is a subset of man and I refuse that entirely - I am more than only my gender. I am more than a rib.

Girl. She is full of youth, and I don't mean chronologically. She is in need of nurturing and taking care of, but she is also defiant and independent and willful. Girl is ready to learn, and ready to teach (you will learn too, in spite of yourself). She is quirky, and playful and sweet in many ways that ladies, madames, mistresses and women are not - but she is stubborn probably has more growing up to do than any of them do too. She has not quite yet fulfilled her potential but she's searching... constantly.

I choose girl.
I have that choice.
Did the "Ms." give me that choice? Well, I like the contradiction in that even more.

As for "Sir" that's a whole other entry.