Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Don't MS. the Point...


Before I get into this post, let me say this: Somewhere in your travels, you've probably heard that Wonder Woman graced the cover of the first (standalone) issue of Ms.

Well, she didn't. She was on the cover of the second issue (pictured above).

The illustration below shows the cover of the actual first issue.


Anyway, other than the above bit of trivia and an unrelated photo at the bottom of this post, today's post isn't really about Wonder Woman at all. (Yeah, me, writing a non-comic-book-related post. Who'da thunk it?) And today's post isn't really about Ms. (the magazine), either. Not exactly.

A month ago, more or less, I read an obituary for a woman named Sheila Michaels. (Today's post isn't quite a "tribute" post because I didn't know of the woman until then.) Ms. Michaels was the woman who took an old, relatively-forgotten honorific -- "Ms." -- and brought it into wider use. Click on her name if you want to read the whole interesting story.

Now I want to share a related story, an anecdote about an argument I had with my then-fiancée, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. (I won't use her name for reasons of privacy, not that she herself would ever encounter my blog.)

When I met and began dating my ex -- we'll call her "Faith Salami" due to a private joke I won't get into here -- she was a divorcée who'd been married once before. She'd kept her husband's surname when she'd divorced him, mainly to eliminate confusion where her two children were concerned.

Every so often, she'd receive a mailing from the church she and her two kids belonged to, and the letter was always addressed to "Mrs. Faith Salami." She often commented that it wasn't supposed to be "Mrs." since she was divorced. It should be "Ms.," because "Ms." was the proper term for a divorced woman.

I explained to her that technically, it was proper for the church to write "Mrs." because she'd kept her husband's last name, but naturally, "Ms." was also correct from Faith's standpoint because the whole idea of the term "Ms." was that a woman could use it regardless of her marital status. In fact, that's the whole raison d'être of the word.

I also explained that the use of "Ms." did not automatically signify that she was divorced. Again, "Ms." purposely did not inform anyone of the woman's marital status.

Faith replied with those words I often heard from her during a disagreement: "Well, that's your opinion."

I swear, to this day, some twenty-five to thirty years later, the woman still doesn't comprehend the difference between "fact" and "opinion." (Her granddaughter recently confirmed that to me, in an out-of-the-blue comment, with no prompting from me!) I used to tell Faith, "If I say that two and two is four, that's a fact, not an opinion."

She never understood that.

And, since the internet was a long way away in what was then the future, I couldn't look up the word "Ms." online to prove my point. So, I had to go to the public library instead, find the definition of the word "Ms." in a dictionary, and make a photocopy of the page that contained the entry in question. I brought the photocopied page to Faith and showed it to her.

Guess what she said.

"That's just the opinion of the guy who wrote the dictionary." (Emphasis mine.)

This was the kind of situation that was common enough to insure that our engagement didn't last long enough to become marriage!

Anyway, since I used a pseudonym for "Faith's" real name, I suppose that telling that story doesn't exactly ridicule her.

So, today's post wasn't really about Wonder Woman, wasn't really about Ms. magazine, wasn't really a tribute to Sheila Michaels, and wasn't really designed to embarrass my former fiancée.

I guess it "wasn't really" a post, then, right? And for this I "bumped" my tribute post to June Foray?

*  *  *  *  *

Oh, lest I forget: Last but not least, speaking of Wonder Woman, this is just... wrong.


What the hell were they trying to say?!?

Thanks for your time.

23 comments:

  1. Ok that pig must be at Walmart:) your ex fiancé sounds like one of my brother's 3 ex-wives...yes, he was married 3 times. I thought Ms. Was mainly for single gals to use or divorced women who didn't want to be called miss anymore or Mrs. I always felt that Miss is ok until you reach a certain age and the. Switch to Ms. That is just my feeling no fact in Sight:) I am going to look forward to your tribute to this wonder lady of voices along with Jeanne Moreau

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    1. Well, Birgit, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that when I used the term "bumped," I didn't mean it as "postponed." I'd never do that to June Foray. I meant that my new post shoved my previous post, the Foray tribute, further down on my blog. So you can go read it any time you want. The bad news is that in my years of movie-watching, I've only seen one film of Jeanne Moreau's, and since my tributes are always slanted toward how the celebrity made an impression on me personally, I won't be posting about her. Sorry.

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  2. Wonder Woman gained a few pounds.

    This wasn't a post? That is just your opinion haha If I had to hear that every time no marriage would sure come due. I'd be heading for the hills.

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    1. That was one of several reasons that ended the relationship.

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  3. First things first: that piggy bank is a blasphemy of all Wonder Woman-ness, and that's that.

    As for your ex, she sounds like some people I know, unfortunately. There is no knocking sense into some people's brains. Sounds like you dodged a bullet on that relationship.

    Great not-a-post.

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    Replies
    1. Great? Well, that's your opinion... Ha.

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  4. The piggy just can't be Wonder Woman. No boots...no bracelets...no cleavage..? Sigh. haha.

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  5. Oh, this is a marvelous non-post! Who hasn't run across a "Faith" somewhere?! I actually never liked the whole Ms. thing. I do use it when addressing a woman whose marital status I do not know, but that is the only time.

    As to the piggy bank, they simply thought they could cash in on the popularity of Wonder Woman. That's my bet.

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    Replies
    1. True, but I find it weird that DC Comics actually licensed this thing!

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  6. The pig is trying to say: Buy shit because it's a comic book character and you want to buy shit.

    With that said, that was a wonderful post (pun intended). I actually had no idea about the whole Ms. thing, but it was a fascinating read all the same. Thank you.

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  7. I had always heard she was on the first cover as well.

    I am like you I will go to all lengths to prove a point. I am not sure if that means there is something wrong with us or if we are just fighting for truth and uh...fact checking?

    Enjoyable read whatever moniker it is given.

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    Replies
    1. I don't always have to prove I'm right, but I tend to try to do so when I think the other person's argument is so effed up it deserves to be shot down.

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  8. I always use Ms. when I write for the paper, unless I'm referring to someone in high school. And I like it myself. It's none of anyone's dang business whether I'm married or not although I do find it funny when I pull up to my favorite gas station with my mini-van full of kids and the attendant calls me "Miss."

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    1. I just took a quick look at your blog, Joanne, figuring that your comment may have signified that you'd just posted your final A-Z entries, and I was right! I'll be commenting on them all within the hour!

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  9. Well, whatever it is, that's your opinion. I started using Ms. when I got divorced, but I also dropped X's last name. It drives me crazy when someone calls me Mrs. Goltz. I always say, Mrs. Goltz was my mother. I read yesterday that Margaret Sanger was one of the inspirations for Wonder Woman. Is that true?

    Love,
    Janie

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    Replies
    1. Yes, among other late 19th/early 20th century feminists, including the wife and the mistress of WW's creator, William Moulton Marston. (He lived with both women in a polyamorous relationship.)

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    2. Yes and they are making a movie about them.

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    3. That's right! I was just reading about that three or four days ago.

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    4. Yeah, and there's a lot going on there, you might say.

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