Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mrs or Ms?

I had never really given the issue of status much thought before mine was changed rather abruptly. I later found it perplexing to fill in forms or when asked what my title was. Er... is it Mrs or Ms?
Let's say I have to fill in a form and I am required to tick only ONE of the two boxes available:
Marital status / Status perkahwinan:
a) married/berkahwin, or b) single/bujang.
Which one do I tick?
Technically, I'd probably still be considered married. Well, if you can call a dead man my husband, that is! Hmm... Or is it actually asking whether you have ever been married? (as opposed to being single but always with a partner? nothing to do with virginity here, right? chuckle!)
Or perhaps technically, I'm actually considered single - because I am now a single parent, am I not? I no longer have a spouse or partner, do I? Oh, gosh - there's so much humour in this all!
Apparently, in the western society it is actually customary for widows and divorcees to still be considered married, regardless of the technical issues, thus continuing to carry the title Mrs. For those who take their husband's surnames, then even as a widow or divorcee, you'd still be Mrs Brown (your late/ex- husband's name), unless of course, you choose not to and revert to your maiden name, eg: Ms Smith (your dad's surname).
When my status changed, I actually pondered over this for a while. Let's see, I still held on to my dad's name (ie: my maiden name) from the very beginning, while donning a Mrs to indicate that I'm married - not to my dad of course! Hence, when Mr.D passed away, it made me think: perhaps I should have always been Ms Daddy's-name?
Surely, if the form you had to fill in had these options, it would have been much easier:
Marital status / Status perkahwinan:
a) Married / berkahwin
b) Single / bujang
c) Divorced / janda / duda
d) Widowed / balu / do they have a masculine form or is it duda as well?
In Malaysia, it is more straight forward. Once you are married, you carry the title Puan and stick to that for life, regardless of whether you've been widowed, divorced or the number of times you've been married (to the same person or not - *chuckle, like Joan Collins!). Hey, how come only the women have issues? The men will always be Mr or Encik regardless of their marital status!
For working women, the title Ms is very convenient. It's a safe assumption and it'd save you from being caught in embarrassing situations. I know people often have to go to further lengths to find out or research whether a certain woman is married or not, so that she will be properly addressed.
It is always a rather embarrassing matter. Yes, so many kind people have meant well when starting a conversation with me, So, is your husband with you? / what does your husband do?
It's awkward. I get awkward and very uncomfortable when asked this, often by a stranger. Sometimes I end up telling the story from A-Z, sometimes only snippets, while there are times when I just tell a big white lie to cut the story short - He's not here. End of story. Now, please bug off!! Some of them can be such curious and inquisitive folks that a response such as, Oh, I'm a single parent would not be enough to quench their thirst for general knowledge. They'd ask and keep on asking... *sigh*
I am therefore, still Mrs D. Occasionally I do use Ms but really, who cares?


rad said...

Hi d,
FYI (hehe..) single women above 30 are also (officially) Puan(s) proven in all my correspondence.

P/s: Then, bila face to face, we've to pandai2 la tepis soklan pasal mana suami & anak2? I when I'm 50 or something like that, must be weird to still being called a 'Cik' eh?

-Puan Rad-

Aida said...

Hi D,

If I were u, I'd just say "I'm widowed".... that is straight to the point and after which not many will dare to ask further questions in fear of being intrusive after saying sorry.

This is what someone I know did, even though she was only divorced... but she did it to get ppl to stop asking intrusive questions.

Ms B said...

Hmm, I have been using Ms ever since I came to this country. I dont get much questions from the locals (none to be precise). however, it is always the kay-poh-chis who love to dwell. Most common question, "husband kerja kat sini?". and they wont stop until you leave.

But since I am known to be ignorant (he he he), I just reply with a one-liner and make my way out.

But yeah darling, who cares? Time can be used for other useful things, eh? *winks*

ps: what are u up to for christmas break?

VersedAnggerik said...

I lak selalu answer "Dia meninggal"! Which is perfectly true, as he left me for someone else! And dalam kamus hidup I pun, mmg dia dah 'meninggal' in every sense!

Qimy said...

i dont know how it feels to be asked d, but one thing i sure know it's different saying he's gone when he's really gone. it's like gone for good vs gone to the heaven. quite a deal there!

Anonymous said...

Kak d,

lol i see the humor and I also sense the difficulty as I also face almost the same dilemma when asked how many children I have (though to most ppl maybe this is not much of a dilemma :P) To me it is bec what is seen now on earth is just a very short part of our whole life kan, but our real life includes the akhirah, so I have 5 children bec my 4th child counts bec he is a soul, only he is not now with us.

For you Kak d, technically pun you are married bec inshallah in akhhirah you will be reunited with him. Ameen.

tp tu my line of thinking doesn't really help you LOL

funny how ppl kaki nyebok when for some ppl, takut nak tanya lebih2 dah sbb takut insult

he's not here is not a big lie kak d :) it's the truth..that's a very good answer actually :)
(i just requested a friendship w you on FB...)

KC lah who else said...

tricky question, eh?

to be on the safe side, methinks the title mrs suits better with women - married, divorced or widowed.

about those nosy people, methinks they were just trying to be polite and sympathetic or not?

*err, i'm one of those nosy people but hey, its better to know it from that person upfront rather than hear rumours about them. u definitely do not want me as a friend...hehehe*

D said...

yes, i understand your sentiment. alah, cakap je dengan muka seposen, 'saya single..' (i've seen some women do it)

yup, i do that sometimes. but believe me, dear, some people never stop there!

ms B,
tulah, in the beginning, it was a different type of difficulty - something caught in the throat. now, it's like, 'please la.. can you not ask me! i'm so tired of answering anything!!' LOL

hehe.. betul la tu yek?! good answer there!

yes, it actually is a big deal when it stirs emotions. but have to brush it all away, take a deep breath and play dumb.

anon @ nadia,
well, actually kan, my BIG white lie is not always the same. sometimes i say, 'oh, he works here and here', or 'he's not working' or 'he's in malaysia' or whatever... usually to people i'm most likely not going to meet again or only occasionally. it depends on my mood gak... hehe..

hehe.. you've got a point there, my dear. there's someone who's rather new in town and she is so straight forward - asks people straight in the face questions. not too bad because at least she got it from me, though i know people sit in corners to talk about everyone else, me included. so, it depends really, how nyebok you are - are you a monger or just a curious cat?

F Manchester said...

I so know what you mean! My situation is not as complex as yours pun I find it difficult to decide between Mrs or Ms... in the end its a mix bag depending on my mood. I use to use Ms, cause Mrs 'My dad's name' seemed weird... but then Ms seem to suggest that I've got another story which I haven't. So its a pic and mix in the end.

Kak Elle said...

I can imagine the scenario...just put as married or even a ms will do:)

13may said...

saya encik13may :)

Oldstock said...

I would prefer to call you Mrs. D. Has a bit more oomph, I think :-)

2-boys'-mom said...

Salam Sis,
Yes! Very awkward even with "Puan" in Malaysia. "I'm a mother with 2 boys" (I tried to cut it short by not even using "kids"). Just being a "Puan" seems not enough for some people to query further. If they probe further, it'll depend on my mood and how kay-poh the person is, my response will be one of the following:
* Dia dah tak de / He left..
* I'm still single though.. :-)
* Does it make any difference?
* You don't really want to know..., do you?
* Bapaknya ada tapi tak tau mana dia pegi / He's somewhere around (and i'll pretend to be looking around or just roll my eyes)
* Dia ingat dia Superman and gi terjun tingkap dari tingkat 35 (and quickly change the topic leaving the person in "shock"...)
* And whatever other one-liner that fits the situation...

p/s The "duda" is still alive... agaknya!

cikdinz said...

saya orang panggil cik dinz. jadi saya single lagi lah kak...hehehe...

mama23beas said...

Wait for when a PhD dalam tangan, it is Dr D all the time...hehe!

D, I sent your an email asking a little help.

Anonymous said...


Students kat malaysia pulak selalu panggil Madam , from ma dame which is french origin should be Mam as in "Yes, mam"

PENDEKAR said...

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته





lil Happy me! said...

That's the spirit, K D.