Sunday, April 29, 2012

Miss, Mrs or Ms?

A few days ago, I saw a post that asked if any women still use Ms anymore.

Yes, it was asked by a man. But in all fairness, he was sincerely asking how women prefer to be addressed. Do they prefer Miss, Mrs or Ms? He said he totally understood the appeal of Ms as like Mr, it doesn't give away a relationship status.

In the pre women's lib days, it was customary to refer to a single woman as Miss and to a married woman as Mrs - even if she were widowed or ... gasp .... divorced! Miss was also commonly used in British society to address women considered to be of an upper class. In some cultures or circumstances, Miss is still used as a sign of respect for any older women regardless of their marital status. This is most commonly seen in areas of the American South - such as the fictional Miss Ellie on the long running TV show Dallas.

Though there are still those - both men and women - who prefer the old terminology, the enlightened among us prefer to let each woman decide how they personally wish to be addressed

For many women it isn't as simple as whether they are married or single. There are so many types of relationships that it can be hard to define a term that feels appropriate. I am not even talking about the notion of whether or not to hyphenate or use the partner's last name upon marriage or to keep a partners name in the event of a divorce. That is a whole different discussion.

For a lot of women, it is a recognition of their independent status to use Ms. They aren't defined by their relationship or lack thereof.

Men have always been referred to as Mr and that tells us squat about what their relationship status is! So, why should women be forced to identify their status through their title?

The terms Miss and Mrs are both derived from the word Mistress - not exactly a flattering term now a days! Many think the term Ms is a product of the women's lib movement but in reality it has been around for much longer.

"There is a void in the English language which, with some diffidence, we undertake to fill. Every one has been put in an embarrassing position by ignorance of the status of some woman. To call a maiden Mrs is only a shade worse than to insult a matron with the inferior title Miss. Yet it is not always easy to know the facts... Now, clearly, what is needed is a more comprehensive term which does homage to the sex without expressing any views as to their domestic situation, and what could be simpler or more logical than the retention of what the two doubtful terms have in common. The abbreviation "Ms" is simple, it is easy to write, and the person concerned can translate it properly according to circumstances. For oral use it might be rendered as "Mizz," which would be a close parallel to the practice long universal in many bucolic regions, where a slurred Mis' does duty for Miss and Mrs alike." - The Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts.

Believe it or not, that commentary was published on November 10, 1901!

Whether or not this was truly the first time the term Ms was proposed is still debated but given the social restraint of the time, it is both refreshing and encouraging to see how enlightened the writer was!

And yes, despite our enlightenment, there are still most definitely some women who wear the term Miss as a screaming headline that they are free and looking for a Mr who will change the Miss to Mrs. In the olden days, a single woman past her early 20's was considered a spinster. Thankfully, that term is pretty much antiquated! Women marry at almost any age now - from late teens to well into their senior years. In most cultures, it is no longer a badge of shame to be single - either by circumstance or choice.

Many businesses, medical and government offices recognize that women are free to be identified in a variety of ways. Most information forms that we fill out give us the option of Miss, Mrs or Ms.

I can't speak to the terms used in non English speaking countries but am truly thankful that I have the option and freedom to call myself Ms.

Personally, I've used Ms since my teens and I am now 54.

For me, it just never felt appropriate to be called Miss. I always felt that Miss sounded to prissy for me and eluded to a more gentile side of the female. I never liked to wear dresses, pink or lace. I haven't worn a dress in 25 years. There is no pink or lace in my wardrobe. I don't even own heels! I've nothing against those who do dress in more traditional female attire - it just isn't my personal style. I'm certainly not the classic tom boy either. I just don't dress or act the part of what many would consider as a "Miss" . I am an independent female who prefers to be addressed as Ms.

In our increasingly impersonal yet technology connected world, the current trend is for clerks, receptionists etc to attempt more personalized service and address people by either a first name or a title and last name. If the first name is unknown or difficult to pronounce, people tend to only look at the gender and age (if shown) before addressing a woman.

Though well meaning, it is greatly erroneous to assume that any woman over a certain age - for instance 35 - is married and therefore addressed as a Mrs. I find it insulting to be called Mrs by clerks, receptionists etc - especially since I am not married.

What's wrong with just saying "May I help you?" or "Thank you for shopping here."? Why do people feel the need to add a title to the regular spiel and risk using the wrong title which may offend a customer/client? If they were truly interested, then they should ask how we wish to be addressed!

Of course there are also those who, no matter what, will stick to the old traditions. Many years ago, I helped a woman write a business letter. She was only a few years older than me, but also single. In the draft, I referred to her as Ms rather than Miss - she was deeply offended!

So, to each their own.

For the most part, I would strongly suggest that unless you know specifically what a woman prefers, Ms is the safest way to go.

It is also a hell of a lot better than being called Ma'am!! Now THAT I find to be insulting! I'm not completely sure WHY I find Ma'am or even madam so insulting, but I think that on some level I see that as being reserved for someone older than me. Even if it is done out of respect by someone younger than me - and in most cases it is - it still makes me squirm.

Yeah, I guess I am old enough to be called ma'am by those younger but I really don't like it.

Frankly, I'd rather be called "hey you" than Ma'am, Mrs or Miss. I'll take Ms any day!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Toys

Whether or not we choose to admit it, we all have toys.

The concept of toys can mean different things to different people - especially for us big kids. Granted some of us big kids still get a kick out of the little kids toys. Our definition of "toys" varies greatly, but I'm talking about the kind of toys that get us excited about our favourite hobbies or other activities!

Sadly, even with the greatest of care and maintenance, many of our beloved toys must eventually be replaced with newer and more efficient models.

I won't go into a list of all of my toys, but many of mine are found in my kitchen!

One of my favourite toys, I got about 6 1/2 years ago - a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer! My old hand mixer had died and I was going to just get another one, but found a great deal on a lift & lock stand mixer that I couldn't resist! Besides, I'd always wanted a stand mixer and I knew I'd get a lot of use from it! My mom owned a Braun kitchen machine and I loved using it when I was at the farm, but hated cleaning all the little grooves around the top of the mixing bowl.

A year later, I also bought a Kitchen Aid food processor. I've gotten a LOT of use out of it as well! Frankly, I couldn't do some of my favourite recipes without them!

I got a blender for Christmas in the mid 80's. I was thrilled, until I realized that the only way to get it thoroughly cleaned, was to take the base of the plastic jar apart every time! Just adding hot soapy water wasn't cleaning it enough. No matter what I did though, I could never get the darn thing back together properly! I always had to get someone else to assemble it for me after cleaning. Not fun or convenient! I eventually gave up that blender after attempting to reassemble it myself one day. I was making a pudding and had the misfortune of the milk leaking out all over my counter.
A year ago, I got my mom's old blender that had a solid glass jar. It had been a 25th wedding anniversary present for my parents back in 1969! It was a great machine back in the day, but alas, it's prime had past. It overheated easily and just couldn't handle most of the jobs anymore.

I also got my mom's hand mixer - circa late 70's. It was also a good mixer except that it had a detachable electrical cord. I never really like it, as the cord always seemed to slip out while I was using it. Mom always joked that it was all in the way you held your mouth while you used it! So, I guess I should have left it at the farm, but frankly I missed having a hand mixer as some jobs are just not practical or worthy of using a stand mixer but too much for a stick blender.

The hunt for New Toys was on! I wanted a new hand mixer. I wanted a blender like my mom had - one with a solid glass jar that didn't come apart, but they don't make them that way anymore. I did my usual research - comparing various brands, models and reading customer reviews - but quickly realized that my best options were with the legendary Kitchen Aid! After that, it was just a matter of watching for a good deal.

The deal came in mid March when The Shopping Channel had a showstopper featuring a 5 speed blender with a 48oz glass jar and a bonus immersion blender! There was also an introductory price on a 9 speed hand mixer with several attachments! I hadn't actually planned on getting a blender AND a hand mixer at the same time but the prices were just too good not to!

The New Toys arrived a few days later!
Okay, so the blender jar can be completely disassembled for cleaning however the instructions state that you can also add a drop of detergent and some warm water then run the machine for a few seconds and then thoroughly rinse. It does clean it well - you just have to make sure your water isn't too hot or the lid will pop off and make a heck of a mess!!

Tip: Before you run a warm soapy water solution - or any warm substances - loosen the clear plastic cap in the lid so that you can hold it just a fraction of an inch above the full lid while the machine is running. That way the lid doesn't pop. You may still get a bit of spillage but it won't be nearly as bad!

So, after I cleaned up the mess and dried the jar, I had to decide what to make first! Well, since it was getting close to Easter at the time, I did the pureed fruit and liquids for the Paska. I've also done a pudding mix, made some bread crumbs and crushed some ice! The machine is wonderfully efficient!
I've only used the hand/immersion blender once and that was to do a final blend of a chilled mix for my lemon cheesecake ice cream. It is a bit noisier than I expected - especially on the higher speed but so far so good. To be perfectly honest, I've owned another version of an immersion blender for many years and rarely used it as it had several little disk attachments that were a nuisance to switch out. This new one came with only the one attachment (others can be purchased separately) which is much easier to deal with but I'm really not sure how much use I'll get out of it. Time will tell.

So far, the hand mixer has gotten the most use. I've made a couple of different frostings, a cake, and mashed potatoes for my Soulful Chicken! Works like a charm!! The dough hooks wouldn't be suitable for a large or heavy dough but if you were only doing a small batch of a cookie, or a loaf/muffin of some kind then this would be great!
I've only had my New Toys for a month, but I am loving them! The sleek styles, powerful motors and the increased options and versatility they allow me to have in my kitchen are a real joy!

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go play with my toys....