Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Titles again

I wrote a while back about the absolute stupidity of having a choice of Mr, Mrs and Ms. Normally I don't get called by my title and it's only on forms that I ever use it, but lately I've been called by it a lot, because I've been interacting with banks and estate agents and so on. It turns out that estate agents are an extremely conservative lot.

Estate agents are not capable of using Ms - it simply doesn't exist for them. You have to be Mrs or Miss. OK, well, then I'll be Miss, I suppose. But, distressingly, they've been tending to opt for Mrs (which makes me feel old). OK, so I'll correct them. Normally, even call centre staff are capable of switching to Miss when given a sharp reprimand after the first Mrs. Not so estate agents.

OK, well then I'm Dr. This has provided estate agents across Margate with the most scandal they've seen in a while. Every one that I've corrected has then made a big point of using it frequently. One, who had written 'Mrs' on a bit of paper told me a number of times that he'd get it changed in the computer system, and also decided that I was unlikely to like the place he was going to show me (which was insulting in itself, actually - am I not living in an appropriate place for my job?). Another called me 'Doc' and appeared most amused about the whole thing. And with another, I had this conversation:
Her: Is it Miss or Mrs?
Me (embarrassed): It's Dr, actually.
Her: Oh, I'll just put it in your name [rather than your husband's??] *writes Miss*
I mean, OK, there probably aren't that many people with a PhD in Margate, and the real doctors probably all live in St Peter's or somewhere, but... but.

And I'm pretty certain that the mortgage affordability calculator discriminated against me on the grounds of my gender, but I can't prove it.

Anyway, this is becoming not-linguistics, so I'll just mutter something here about the odd power-imbalance created when one person in a conversation (the bank person) uses your title+surname and you use their first name.

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