Re: Gender neutral - any new developments in your neck of the woods?

Subject: Re: Gender neutral - any new developments in your neck of the woods?
From: Janice Gelb <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2003 10:31:56 -0800

On Monday, March 3, 2003, at 02:15 PM, Rock, Megan wrote:
> Not to drag this even further off-topic, but what is the
> correct usage of Ms.? A friend of mine who is divorced but
> still goes by her married surname told me that she is supposed
> to use "Ms. Smith" because her ex-husband remarried and his
> new wife is now the "Mrs. Smith."

The use of "Ms." itself is merely an honorific preference of
some women. However, as to the correct last name to be used
by a divorcee, here is an answer from Miss Manners:

Gentle Reader,
If you are already desperate over this question, you will
be horrified to hear the answer to this, Miss Manners
promises you. It is that there are three correct conventions,
two of which require a divorced lady to use the honorific
"Mrs." and one of which permits her to do so.

The very old tradition (the one that will stand your hair
on end) is that the divorced wife continued to style herself
not only Mrs., but "Mrs. Theobold Jones." The idea was that
as he was at fault in the divorce -- gentlemen acquiescing to
this responsibility whether they were or not, because a lady
at fault would be a social pariah -- she relinquished nothing.

This was followed by a more realistic tradition, in which
the divorced lady used "Mrs." with her maiden name and his
surname, as in "Mrs. Huntington Jones." (Miss Manners is well
aware that many found this cumbersome and started substituting
their given names for their surnames, as in "Mrs. Stephania
Jones," but that has never been recognized as correct by the
Supreme Etiquette Council.)

Finally, there is the lenient modern tradition, by which a
divorced lady can use whichever honorific and surname she
prefers. The most practical usage is Ms, with either her
maiden or her married name, but she is also free to call
herself "Mrs. Jones."


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