Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why was the word 'Ms.' so important?

 Msfirst appeared in 1971 as an insert in New York magazine.

This is the monologue for the 100th episode of Why? Radio: "Feminism as Philosophy, Politics, and Friendship" with guests Gloria Steinem and Suzanne Braun Levine. Click here to listen to the episode.

I can think of few guests more suitable for the hundredth episode of Why? Radio than Gloria Steinem and Suzanne Braun Levine. They and their feminists cohorts emphasized that everyday sexism was built on ideology as much as habit, creating a space for philosophy in the public consciousness. Gloria and Suzanne’s creation, Ms. Magazine, prepared the ground for the blogs, college courses, and television shows we have today. It was critical thinking; it was public philosophy.

Ms. offered a counterpoint to the notion that women were only interested in, well, notions. Its title alone was transgressive. It recognized that the most personal designation—that term by which we are acknowledged by others—announced our limitations. Women called Miss were deemed perpetually immature and those referred to as Mrs. were relegated to the background of a couple. Those called Ms, however, were protected by ambiguity. Freed from the conviction that without a husband, they were nothing, they could pursue the life of their choice—in theory, anyway.