Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mother’s Day Mrs, Ms, Miss, Dr, Professor Mummy

Apparently, the European Parliament has produced some guidelines about how its staff should be gender neutral, included in which is the advice to steer clear of Mrs and Miss (and corresponding titles in other languages, such as Señora and Señorita and Madame and Mademoiselle).

There has been some fuss in some of the press about this, of course – it’s the European Parliament, after all, we can’t let them get away dictating anything to us (not that they are in this case, but details, schmetails). The BBC, the Telegraph and (what a surprise) the Daily Mail, have all pitched in, with the BBC being the only one to offer up an opinion from someone who actually uses the title ‘Ms’.

I am Ms Tasha Goddard. I was born Tasha Goddard (well, technically Natasha, but we’ll forget about that) and I will always be Ms Tasha Goddard. I have used Ms since I was a teenager, though you wouldn’t know it from some of the titles I have been assigned by various companies and authorities (M-S, Mrs, Miss, M, Mr and only the occasional Ms). I did not take Chris’ name when I got married and did not really consider it (not that you would know this from the letters and cards I get from relatives, both mine and Chris’). I am Tasha Goddard, I have always been Tasha Goddard and I will always be Tasha Goddard.

I honestly do not see why a woman should take her husband’s name when she gets married. I really do not understand it. I also do not understand why women’s titles define their marital status, while men’s do not. Because of my determination to stick to these principles, Chris often gets called ‘Mr Goddard’, though why this should be any more annoying than my getting called ‘Mrs Clark’, I don’t know.

Of course, these principles hit a stumbling block when it comes to deciding what surname your children will have. We did consider changing both our surnames completely by deed poll, so that it would be fair, but as I said above, I am Tasha Goddard, I will always… We settled on giving her the surname Clark and the second middle name Goddard. So she is Rosemary Alice Goddard Clark. Poor thing! We both dislike double-barrelling, though in hindsight perhaps we should have gone with it.

So far, no-one has yet questioned my status as Rosemary’s mother, despite having a different name. Hopefully it is the day and age where people realise that not everyone has the same surname as their children, for various reasons. But I have given up explaining when someone phones and says ‘Is that Mrs Clark?’. I just say ‘Yes’, now and grit my teeth. Perhaps Baby No. 2 can be Clark Goddard and Chris can have another turn at being Mr Goddard, while Rosemary and Baby No. 2 can have the fun of people assuming that they’re half siblings instead of full ones, or something like that.

What about you? Are you a Mrs a Ms, or something else? Did you/will you take your husband’s name? Do you get as hot under the collar about it as i do, or does it not bother you?


  1. I didn't take my husband's name when we got married and was happy with that decision. But then when I was pregnant with our first child, six years later, I decided that it would be too much hassle to have separate surnames with children involved and the struggle of deciding what to name THEM just made me groan thinking about it. So I took my husband's name when I was eight months pregnant.

    In some ways I wish I hadn't and had stuck to my principles but at the same time it really hasn't been a big deal and admittedly has made things a bit easier. I see the confusion that my inlaws' go through (they have different surnames and hubby was double-barreled growing up but dropped one of them when he reached adulthood) and am kind of grateful to not have that particular situation to deal with. I think it's a very personal decision and every woman has to do what she thinks is best for her situation.

  2. I took my husband's name and was happy to. It really has never bothered me.
    Having said that, I did keep my maiden name for work because that was what everyone knew me as and having to tell all my contacts it had changed was too much of a pain.
    Plus I like being someone different for work. I like having a seperate identity.
    What I don't like however, is everyone insisting I have a title which defines whether or not I am married. Men don't, why do I?
    I've actually had arguments with various people like the bank and the telephone company about this - more for the sport, I think!

  3. Oddly enough, I have stuck with my married name, but only because I prefer it to my original surname (and, ok then, because it annoys Mr X ...)

  4. I took my husbands mane when i got married but my email is still in my maiden name.i hang on to it where i can! Two of my 4 children have my maiden name as their surname and the other 2 have my maiden name as part of their middle name, so that the newer 2 have the same name as the older 2 somewhere. It only becomes a problem when travelling. At border control coming back into the UK they always ask what is my relationship to this child..if there was a place on the passport for your maiden name all would be well.we have been advised to carry our marriage certificate with us when we travel to show my unmarried name.

  5. haha mane it should have been name !

  6. Oh I agree. I'm called Mrs all the time because I have a child, and I'm in fact a Miss, but not a Ms because I'm not so keen on that for some reason, but it shouldn't really matter.

  7. I took my husbands name 1) because i wanted to and 2)my maiden name always caused me bother at xmas so i was glad to get rid lol! x

  8. I took my husband's name, because I didn't see it as anything more than convention and convenience. Also, I had an unusual maiden name, which I always had to spell out, and tell people how to pronounce, whereas my husband has one of those very simple run-of-the-mill names. I was happy to make the change.

    If I'd kept my name, I'm not sure what I'd have done re children's names. I suppose a logical way forward is for boys to take their father's name and girls their mother's, but that does present problems. I wouldn't like to have a different surname to my child - that wouldn't feel quite right somehow.

  9. I took my husband's name, but it went against all my feminist principles to do so. I did it purely because my maiden name was a pain and an embarrassment and I prefered his name to mine. Shallow - moi?

  10. I took my husband's name despite having sworn my whole life not to. It was one of those odd things that meant far more to him than I'd realised and as I was pregnant about 2 weeks after we got married; I just changed it as I didn't want to imflict a double barrelled name on our baby. That said if he'd had a rubbish name I suspect I would have kept mine - I am that shallow ;)

    However the whole changing it bit was so painful, sending your marriage certificate to every creditcard/bank/government organisation was a pain in the ass, in fact a couple of my credit cards are still in my maiden name 8 years later.

    The passport was what annoyed me the most though. I had 6 years to run on mine when we married, so I looked into sending it off to change my surname and discovered it was £65 to do so! So I left it and changed it when it ran out, I was so annoyed!

    But as to Miss, Mrs, Ms - not really that bothered I rarely use them. My name's Liz, Mrs G is my MIL!

  11. I changed my name when we got married. My maiden name was a REALLY common one, and near the end of the alphabet. Now my name is more unusual and at the beginning of the alphabet :-)

    I kept my maiden name as a middle name, though I ran into problems with US immigration over that when I became a citizen and they made me do a legal name change in order to have my maiden name as a second middle name! I kept my maiden name as part of my name because I found I couldn't sign my name otherwise! I was too used to writing it!

    I finally got a British passport with my married name on it last year, though my American one has had my married name on it from the start.

    I like having the same last name as my husband and kids - it makes it clear that we are a family. One of my nephews has a different legal last name to his half-brother and mum and step-dad - but he tends to use their last name in any situation he can to show that they do all belong together.

    At work I have two names - Mrs Married Name when I'm teaching my own class, and Miss First Name when I'm helping in someone else's class. Odd, but it keeps it straight in the kids' heads who's in charge in any given classroom!

  12. Very interesting. On this small, but extremely significant sample, everyone married has their husband's name (except me) and DD has even kept her husband's name (my mum and two divorced aunts also kept their married names).

    I've always liked the Spanish way and read up on it a bit more today ( and it turns out that we have kind of done it, though traditionally it would be the father's name first and the mother's name second. So, I think we'll move to Spain! And then I'll be in good company with lots of other mums who don't have exactly the same name as their children. (Though I will be in trouble for not having a middle name, it seems!)

  13. I like the Spanish custom too. I ended up changing my name but only when children were on their way - I just couldn't face the ongoing hassle of having a different name and somehow, it was always assumed that they would have my married name as their surname and that means i would have been the only one not in the gang. My maiden name, being Adamsdale, was way too much of a mouthful to have as a second/middle/part of double barrel name so I just lost it. However, I got some recognition by calling my eldest Adam. The pub we went to after his christening celebrated the event by renaming a beer to 'Adam's Ale' so I feel my name was there in spirit.

  14. FM: That's lovely that you and your son got a beer named after you. It is a bit hassly having different surnames, and will probably only get more so as we go on.

  15. Hello! I'm married and kept my own name. It would never have occured to either my husband or I that I would change it. It is who I am. I'm a PhD, so I have the luxury of being Dr., and avoid the Ms/Mrs thing. My husband loves being called Dr._my last name by mistake. We don't use titles so much here in the US anyway. I did the same as you for our kids, they have my last name as a second middle name. My family and his family try very hard, but always forget, and address mail to some mish mash of the wrong title and wrong surname!

  16. Ooh, a Dr! I have a friend who gets to use Prof. and am very jealous of both of you. Not enough to go and spend years doing a PhD, though, I think.