From the BBC:
Calling teachers "Sir" or "Miss" is depressing, sexist and gives women in schools a lower status than their male counterparts, an academic has said.
Prof Jennifer Coates told the Times Educational Supplement "Sir is a knight... but Miss is ridiculous - it doesn't match Sir at all".
She said she had been struck by the disparity while volunteering in a secondary school. But one educationalist said being called "Miss" was a sign of respect...
I went to a boys' grammar school where nearly all the teachers were men, so we had an app for that - we simply addressed them all as "sir".
Mrs Hammond, our English teacher (who was quite lovely, actually) would occasionally rebuke somebody and ask him to address her as "Miss" or "Mrs Hammond", to which the rebukee would usually reply "Yes, Mrs Hammond, sir".
Whether this is all sexist or not I do not know, but it is one heck of a void in the English language here.
For example, if I'm in the supermarket and I want to ask a male employee - regardless of age - where something is, I address him as "sir" and he probably addresses me as "sir" as well and everybody is happy. If I'm asking a particularly young female employee, I don't mind addressing her as "miss" just for a bit of a giggle, but if she is clearly older than twenty or so, there just isn't a word at all.
"Miss" feels clearly wrong, but "madame" seems wildly inappropriate as well, so I end using neither and asking straight out, thus widening the gender gap even further - males get an honorific, females don't.
I had a similar dilemma with a dustbin man recently. I left the house just as he was wheeling our bin back from the lorry, so I said "Thank you."
He looked baffled, so I explained "I just wanted to show a bit of appreciation for what you..."
[Awkward pause while I desperately try to guess what dustbin men call themselves this week: refuse collectors? waste disposal operatives? public health officers? At which stage I thought sod it.]
"... dustbin men do, taking away all our rubbish every week [waves hand vaguely], keeping the place tidy and all that."
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
From the BBC: