My name is not “Miss”, but one of the things I have noticed, paradoxically, about growing older is the increase in being called Miss. Supposedly it’s a respectful address for a young woman, but I’m almost certain that when I was younger I was called by my name or nothing at all: “Excuse me” where now there is a misguided Miss tacked on: “Excuse me, Miss.”
I know part of it comes from working in a tertiary institution that deals with a large number of students straight out of high school, and I am reliably told by my flatmate (a high school English teacher) that female teachers are called “Miss” and male teachers “Sir”. Which is pretty bizarre when you think of it… the male teachers get some kind of knighthood, and the female teachers get belittled. Because there is a certain implied innocence to Miss that is missing from Mr.
It could be that I’ve been misinformed, but my understanding is that Miss implies a lack of marital status in a way that Mr or Sir does not. You can be reliably ambiguous as a male. But if you are female you must choose Miss, or Mrs (or often have it chosen for you). I’m not huge on titles as a rule, wherever I can I opt out of having one entirely. I don’t much care if people think I’m married or not, I just kind of resent that thoughtless commodification of women, Miss suggesting availability, where Mrs says: “Hands off this one is owned.” There is, I guess, the belated attempt at mystery that is Ms, but people don’t say Ms they say Miss.
Maybe I’m misinterpreting here, but Miss when it comes down to it has a negative connotation. As a prefix Mis means “ill” as in ill informed. Further to that the word miss, as opposed to the title, means a failure to hit or to catch something. It can also mean something that is omitted or left out, or something that is not noticed, and it stands in for the emotional feeling of lack or loss. To be Miss is to not really be there. One might even say misunderstood.
I don’t want to misconstrue other people’s intentions, but it occurs to me that to prevent further misadventure it would be remiss of me not to point out that you can learn someone’s name and miss altogether the chance of misinterpretation caused by misreading the expected implication. But maybe I’ve misjudged you and you’ve already thought of that.
I could easily be mistaken.