Wednesday, February 14, 2007
When The Mrs. Is A Ms.
The first thing that popped into my head while reading this Times story about bullying male cooks and the women who love them was, Is this the way of life we're fighting two wars to defend? But then I got to this sentence:
Mr. LaVallee loves to cook, and when they were first married, Ms. LaVallee thought that sharing his hobby with him might be fun. (Emphasis mine.)
Now, I know that Ms. was introduced as a means of identifying a woman without reference to her marital status. But in common usage, it was usually adopted when the woman in question's marital status was unknown by the speaker, or when the woman's mature age made it awkward to address her as Miss.
But this is the first time I can remember seeing it used in a context where it's quite obviously a conscious choice, either on the part of the writer or the subject. And in case you're thinking it might have been a typo, the woman was again referred to as Ms. LaVallee two paragraphs down.
I'll put aside for now the politics of a post-post-feminism, where a wife cheerfully accepts being elbowed out of one of the more enjoyable domestic tasks by a domineering husband (three guesses as to who gets clean-up duties), but insists on being addressed as Ms.
Because I'm more interested in the style usage question. Have I just been missing something, or is this a developing trend? Anyone?