As of Tuesday, the 12th of June, I am officially Dr. Eimear Dunne. It’s taken 6 long years, but I’ve finally made it. I’m a doctor.
All of this has got me thinking about titles. Changing from Ms. Dunne to Dr. Dunne feels like a big leap – one that many will judge me for making. There is a perception that by using the title of ‘Dr.’ outside of work, you’re a bit of a wanker. It can look like you’re just trying to show off, or highlight your supposed ‘superiority’. Personally, I have different reasons for making the change.
If you male, all this talk about titles may seem a but unnecessary and ridiculous. Men rarely need to think about titles – they remain ‘Mr.’ throughout their entire adult life, apart any professional titles which are accrued. Whether single, married or divorced, a man remains ‘Mr’. Why? A man’s worth is not judged by his martial status.
Women on the other hand..
As a woman, the drop-down menu of titles holds a few more choices. Am I Miss, Ms., or Mrs. today? A young unmarried girl is Miss, a married woman Mrs. Why is it we must proclaim our martial status to the world every time we use a title? Does the delivery person bringing me my Asos order need to know if I have a husband? Is it imperative to the post office to know I’m unmarried to get me my birthday card? Yeah, not so much. There is, of course, the ‘Ms’ title these days. It’s only existed since the 1950s, and is an blend of Miss and Mrs. While it is an improvement, it is still not the female equivalent of ‘Mr’, and is only used by some.
Of course titles aren’t the only part of a woman’s name that changes throughout life. Once married, women traditionally take their husband’s surname, leaving part of their identity behind. This is a tradition leftover from when marriage meant belonging to your husband, becoming his possession. People nowadays may have many reasons for taking a partner’s name after marriage, and it is becoming increasingly common to keep one’s maiden name. It is, of course, a personal choice for each individual to make, but we can’t ignore that there is still societal expectation on women to conform to tradition. Once again, our martial status is highlighted to the world.
Our patriarchal society is changing, albeit slowly. Women have more control over their destinies than at any other point in history. I think it’s time we take back our names too, and stop being categorised by whether we’ve made it down the aisle or not.
I hope that by now you are starting to have an idea of why changing titles is a pretty big deal to me. Instead of a title which reflects my gender and martial status, I have one that I earned through hard work. My title is a reflection of who I am, and what I have achieved, not whether or not I’ve managed to lock-down a husband.
So yeah, I will now be signing my name Dr. Dunne, indefinitely.