It’s Halloween, a Dark and Stormy Night, and your phone rings. You answer it. It’s Gloria Steinem. She tells you that you should be afraid, very afraid. Of what should I be afraid?, you ask Gloria, not even wondering how she got your phone number. She makes her voice all ghostly and raspy, and tells you some horror stories. She starts with the one in which Rush Limbaugh calls a Georgetown student protesting about contraception a “slut”. Next, she chills your spine with the one about women not being allowed onto a panel of witnesses at the hearing on the White House mandate to require employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage. You shudder some more when she tells the tale of Rick Santorum proclaiming that those criminal-breeding single mothers need politicians who aren’t afraid of “kicking them in the butt.”
The stories that scare me the most are the ones that I experience. My friend who counsels college students tells me that many of his female students start sentences with “I’m not a feminist, but…” You’re not a feminist? Let me Google that for you. You’re not an advocate for equal rights for women? That’s too scary- it might make excessive hair sprout from under your arms, or people might think you hate men.
When I got married, I chose to add my husband’s name. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but it was a choice. One friend commented that she was surprised, that she thought I was more “independent.” Choosing my new name, a name I will share with our family as it grows, felt independent to me. But I did consider the context and implications of being a woman who took on the name of her husband (in addition to the name handed down by her father). After the wedding, acquaintances would ask: “What is your new last name?”, and I would think: “Why do you assume I have a new one?” Or they would call me “Mrs. Gumiran”, and I would say: “I’m going by Ms.” Some of them asked why. What is Ms.? What is Ms.?! I started to realize that many women my age and younger did not know about the title of Ms. and what it signifies. I was horrified!
So on Halloween, the last day of the month that marks the 40th anniversary of Ms. Magazine, and six days before the election that has everyone talking about the “War on Women”, I am going to get on the phone like Gloria Steinem. It’s time for the…
Ms. Marketing Campaign
Sorry to bother you all by calling random numbers, but it’s better than stuffing Halloween candy in pamphlets and handing them out to trick-or-treaters. At least this is a day on which you’re accustomed to interacting with strangers. Top telemarketing tips offers that:
A good script needs to incorporate all parts of the Sales process; Rapport, Disturb, Solution, Close. Whilst doing that you also need to be considering how people are influenced. The words will differ greatly, depending on your industry, but more importantly depending upon the purpose of your call.
Following these suggestions, I will “mirror” the answerer’s speaking patterns to develop rapport, build their need to know more about Ms. by asking open-ended questions, present the solution that knowing about Ms. will better their lives, and lock them in by asking a closed question. I’ll loosely use the script sample provided on this helpful site.
Happy Halloween! My name is Katie, and I’m an independent writer.
I’m calling to find out what you know about a particular topic so that I can write about it.
Would you be willing to talk for three minutes?
Identifying a Need:
Are you married or single?
What title do you go by? Mr. Mrs., Miss. Ms., Dr. etc?
If single: If you get married, what title will you go by? Why will you make that choice?
If a married man: What title does your partner go by? Do you know why s/he chose that title?
If a married woman: Why did you choose that title?
Do you know what the title Ms. represents?
Could I tell you what I know about it so you have more information with which to make choices?
Personalizing Our Product to Suit the Clients’ Needs:
Ms. is intended as a default form of address for women, regardless of marital status.
Note: a man’s title does not change based on his marital status.
It was used as early as the 17th century, but eventually Miss. and Mrs. replaced it, which, please note, do indicate marital status.
In 1901 there was a movement to bring Ms. back into use, to signify sex without expressing views on the domestic situation.
It was suggested again in the early 1950’s as a matter of “convenience”.
In 1961 a feminist named Sheila Michaels tried to promote its use, but was ignored.
In 1971, a friend of the important feminist Gloria Steinem heard Sheila Michaels on the radio, and suggested Ms. as the title for Steinem’s new magazine. The title was used and popularized the use of Ms..
A year later the US Government Printing Office approved using “Ms.” in official government documents.
Today some women use Ms., and others use Mrs. and Miss. I have found that many women do not know the significance of these titles and therefore do not take their meaning into consideration when choosing their own titles. I think women should have the right to choose what they’re called, but they should know the story behind the words they use.
Was some of this story new to you?
The Closing Question:
I really appreciate you giving us this time to talk on Halloween Night. I think its really important that you know the story of Ms. Now that you know the story, what title will you choose?
Let the campaign begin!
First answered call:
You are a write-rrr? A writer! I can’t read. I am stupid. Yes, I am. Don’t call me a liar. You are going too fast for me. Slow down and calm down and tell me what you want. OK, you can get three minutes out of me. I won’t give you any information, though. What do you want from me? Title? What is that? Oh- I don’t even think about chicken-shit like that.
Second answered call:
I”m single. I go by Mr. I would go by Mr., it wouldn’t change. Ms.? It’s a single woman. It isn’t? Oh. Oh. I didn’t know that. Well, if they want to bring it back, that’s cool. If I was a woman and I got married… well… I guess I would go by Mrs. I think people like status, and if they wanted to get married, they want people to know they’re married. I don’t care that Mr. wouldn’t change; for me it’s easier. Unequal? No, I don’t think that’s unequal. It’s not unequal. No problem, I hope I could help.
At some point on Halloween night, they make you stop ringing doorbells. Like houses with no lights and no candy, all of the women who answered their phones declined talking to me. It’s too late at night for me to continue dialing random numbers. At least in developing my script I became more clear about what I wanted to say. And at least I got to talk to one crazy man and one uninformed man about Ms.. Maybe some of you readers will consider this post a call and provide your commentary about Ms.. Was some of this story new to you?
Happy Halloween & Election Week!