Friday, 27 March 2009

Helen Clark to be no. 3 at United Nations

Here's a cartoon from Mike Moreu to spark discussion:

11 comments:

Madeleine said...

Women may not have to conform to stereotypes, like the cartoon says, to succeed but apparently they have to go by Miss when they do.

I don't like Helen or her politics but she is well suited for this job. I don't buy into the notion that women should not use title that indicate their marital status because it is sexist.

However, the media and half the blogosphere referring to a more than middle aged, former Prime Minister who is in fact married as "Miss" rubs me the wrong way. How come no comment from you on this?

Anna said...

This is pretty poignant indictment of the world at large. Helen certainly is facing a clean-up job like no other. What this cartoon doesn't ask, of course, is who made the mess in the first place!

Anna said...

I wasn't aware of this, Madeleine, as I actually haven't seen any international reporting of the issue. You'd hope that people would do Helen Clark the courtesy of referring to her by whatever title she prefers - which I assume is Ms?

I've personally found that people are less likely to assume women's titles than they were a few years ago, but then NZ has been relatively accepting of letting women decide (except for the Otago Daily Times, which flat-out refused to use the term Ms until the late 80s, including when women asked for that title).

Mind you, titles are going out of fashion anyway - it seems more acceptable to refer to people by their first names.

stargazer said...

actually, as far as i know, helen clark prefers the title "miss". i can't imagine the media would be using any title against her personal wishes, because from my own experience, they always ask what title you prefer and stick to it.

Michael said...

"Miss" is the title she prefers, or at least that the Labour PR guide gives. In another past life as a student journalist it was in the blurb we got from ASPA too (which I think came from Parliamentary Services at some point).

Madeleine said...

I blogged on it this morning.

If you Google "Miss Clark" UNDP you will find Stuff, 3 News, Scoop, ODT, NBR, NewstalkZB, NineMSN, The Australian, Radio NZ, ABC - even The Standard all refer to her as "Miss."

I find it very strange; Miss suggests unmarriedness, which is incorrect and/or is a title a girl might have as opposed to a woman.

The media do not always use the title you request. I have been called Ms when I have specifically asked to be referred to as Mrs.

Michael said...

Miss Clark is what she wants to be called; perhaps she is occasionally Mrs Davis as well, I don't know (like Cherie Blair/Booth). It seems unlikely, and not really any of our business what she chooses to be called in any case.

She could definitely have had the Labour Party change their listing of her if she'd wanted. She was the boss, after all.

stargazer said...

well, maybe they got it wrong with you but i've not had a problem. also, mrs clark would also be incorrect as her husband's name is "davis" and she chooses not to use that name. compare this to judith collins, who is married to a chinese fellow (not with the surname of collins as far as i'm aware) & generally uses "mrs". doesn't make sense to me, but i certainly wouldn't bother complaining about it. in our current environment where many women choose not to change their name after marriage, titles need to be flexible as well. my preference would be to do away with mrs and ms, and just have miss as a title for all women.

Anna said...

Why is anyone's business, a) whether Clark is married, or b) whether she chooses to advertise her marital status through the title she uses? I don't think either of these things have much bearing on her ability to do the job.

Angela said...

Hi, I'm Angela. In North America "Miss" would be used for a young woman or an elderly spinster; "Mrs." for a married woman; and "Ms." formerly a divorced woman, say back in the 70's but nowadays could be applied to any woman over, say the age of 20. "Ms." generally has the same connotation for women as "Mr." does for men. Or in other words, it's no one's business whether or not a woman is married unless she wishes to disclose that information herself.

Julie said...

So Helen Clark gets the third biggest job in the UN and we end up talking about how the media refers to her as Miss when in fact that's what she requests. Were I Jewish I think I'd be typing Oy Vey about now!

Interesting tangent none the less :-)