can I wear a collar on video calls, correcting clients who call me “Mrs.” and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I wear a collar now that we’re on video?

In my personal life, I sometimes wear a collar as part of my fun relationship with my partner. It is a narrow leather band with a small metal ring on it, kind of like this. I’m a first-year teacher and have to look respectable so I never wear it to school. But during distance learning, I’ve been wearing it 24/7 — I figure nobody’s looking closely enough over video chat to notice that it’s not just a necklace or a ribbon or the collar of my shirt. Even if they did notice and wonder, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell for sure. Do you think this is okay?

As a teacher? You really cannot risk it. Teachers are scrutinized and held to restrictions on their behavior that no other professional is held to. Teachers have been fired just for having photographs on social media where they have a drink in their hands.

If one of your students looks closely enough to suspect it’s a collar, it could end up being something that interrupts your career. And even if that doesn’t happen, you do not want students speculating on its meaning. There’s a reason you don’t wear it to school. Leave it off when you’re teaching.

2. Should I keep correcting clients who call me “Mrs.”?

I work in a large state institution where I frequently see many of the same clients over and over again — think something like social worker, where you aren’t dealing with the public per se, but you’re seeing lots of different people, sometimes on an indefinite basis, and the relationship is somewhat formal. Also like a social worker, I’m seeing people who are of various socio-economic backgrounds, customs, and cultures.

The problem I’m running into is that people (mostly clients, but occasionally coworkers) frequently refer to me as “Mrs. Smith” when I am a “Ms.” I got married a few weeks before I started this job, so no one here ever knew me when I was single, and I never changed my name anyway. Because I clearly am married, it makes sense for people to initially assume that I am Mrs. Smith, and I usually politely correct them the first time. But it happens repeatedly with the same people. I know some of this probably comes to cultural differences — once, when I corrected someone, we had a lengthy conversation in which it became clear that he basically wasn’t aware that it was an “option” to not change your name after marriage. We also are in a pretty conservative state, and not changing your name after marriage isn’t rare, but it isn’t the norm either.

Due to the nature of my job, it isn’t possible to allow clients to call me by my first name, and the workplace culture is such that most of us don’t use first names either unless they’re your direct superior. I feel like I should only have to correct someone once, but “should” doesn’t really mean anything in real life. Should I let this go? I find it frustrating, but I can’t really put my finger on why. Am I making too big of a deal out of this?

It’s a question that only you can answer, because it depends on how strongly you feel.

I personally feel very strongly about using Ms. rather than Mrs. I find it bizarre when people default to Mrs. for women who they assume are married since (a) so many women don’t use it and (b) women who don’t use it generally don’t use it for a reason — that reason being that they don’t care to be addressed by their marital status, just as men aren’t. But I also wouldn’t make a big deal about it with clients who seemed internally wired to use Mrs. I would make a big deal about it with family members or other people close to me, and with companies that don’t offer Ms. as an option, and probably with anyone who I sensed was using Mrs. with some kind of agenda. But clients who you’re serving in the kind of context you described? Eh. I’d correct them once, and let it go if it happened after that.

But that’s me, and you might feel differently! If you do, you can keep correcting people each time — “Oh, it’s Ms. Plufferton, not Mrs.!” And who knows, maybe you’ll get to educate more people like the guy you mentioned who didn’t even understand what Ms. is. But it’s your call about whether it’s a battle you want to fight in this particular context. There also might be a question about whether continually correcting someone has a negative impact on the dynamic you want to have with them … but that might be counterbalanced by your interest in fighting the good fight on this, which I think is legit given that we’re talking about entrenched sexism.

And for the record, since some people still don’t understand: Ms. reveals nothing about marital status and that’s the point. It doesn’t indicate you’re divorced or a harlot or anything other than that you identify as female. It’s the female equivalent of Mr., nothing more and nothing less; it allows women the same ability that men have always had — to be identified without their marital status being a defining characteristic.

3. I was promised a promotion pre-COVID — will it still happen?

In February, my boss told me I would be getting promoted in June. The promotion is not a true job change, but rather one where my coworkers who have been in the role longer have better titles and (presumably) make more money than I do, so the promotion is a recognition that I have been doing the job long enough and am good enough at it that I merit the title and money bump.

Well, in February the world sure looked different than it does now in June! My company isn’t at risk of going under and it hasn’t done layoffs yet, but layoffs in the plant may be in the near future if the order rate doesn’t pick up very soon. My boss and I haven’t discussed the promotion since he told me about it; I work very independently and of course we haven’t been in the office together in months.

It feels like it would be really tone deaf to ask about getting more money and a better title when my company will be deciding whether to lay off people in the very near future. (I’m part of the office staff, which seem to be safe from the layoff discussions.) On the other hand, I worry I’m not advocating for myself enough — I mean, they told me I was getting this promotion, so it’s not like I’m just demanding more money out of nowhere during a recession. On the third hand, I feel like my work quality hasn’t been as good during quarantine as during normal times, so I feel a bit presumptuous asking about a promotion (although my boss hasn’t indicated anything negative about my work during quarantine; this is my own evaluation). How would you advise me to approach it?

You should ask about it, because the last you heard it was happening. At the same time, though, you’re right that you don’t want to sound oblivious to the fact that things may be different now. I’d word it this way: “You’d told me in February that I’d be getting promoted in June. I wasn’t sure if that was still slated to happen, given what’s gone on the last few months, so I wanted to check in with you about it.”

4. New job wants me to start getting certifications before I’ve even started

I just accepted a job offer for a job that requires that I complete a series of online software certifications. However, after accepting the offer, it’s now been communicated to me that they would like me to start working on these certifications immediately, even though my start date is three weeks away. They didn’t say specifically that they want me to get to a certain point before my start date, just that it would be better if I did.

Is this allowed? I don’t have time (nor am I willing to spend time) to work on extra stuff for a job that I haven’t started yet when I’m still working full time at my old job. Is it okay for me to push back on this or should I just not say anything and just not do it? Or should I suck it up and do it anyway?

It should be perfectly fine to say, “I’m working at my old job right up until I start with you so I won’t have any time to work on the certifications before then, but I’m looking forward to tackling them as soon as I start!”

(I’m assuming the offer wasn’t contingent on you already having specific certifications in place, of course. If it was something more like, “We’d normally only offer this job to someone certified in X and Y; would you be able to get those before you start?” then that’s a different situation than if they sprung this on you post-hire.)

If they push back, I’d try to get a better sense of why. If it’s something like “we’re going to need you to work on X immediately and we have a project with a hard deadline we can’t move,” I’d be more willing to try to accommodate them, if it’s something you can realistically do.

5. I’ve been contacted about the same job opening for three years

I’m getting a bit frustrated because a company I interviewed with three years ago still hasn’t filled the position. Over the past three years, I’ve been contacted at least 15 times by different recruiters (from agencies) asking if I’m interested in this position. I contact them back and ask “is it with ____?” and if they say yes, I tell them how many times I’ve been contacted regarding this position. Is there anything I can do to stop being contacted, or will the company keep this vacancy open forever?

There isn’t really anything you can do to get it to stop. Because these are all different external recruiters and not the company itself, there’s no centralized list of candidates not to contact. The recruiters may not even have a contract with the hiring company (sometimes recruiters will send over candidates to try to entice a company to work with them, without any formal arrangement in place). It’s possible you’ll continue to be contacted about this job for all the rest of your working years! It’s unkillable, like a 1950’s movie monster.

{ 853 comments… read them below }

  1. Aggretsuko*

    Oh god, I can just imagine OP 1 getting screenshotted by a kid and then everything goes to hell. Don’t do it on camera, OP!

    1. Anononon*

      Yes, this! It’s so much easier for kids to surreptitiously take a screen cap or picture of you without you ever knowing.

    2. Alice's Rabbit*

      Seriously, do NOT! Yes, the camera distorts things somewhat, but not that much. I can definitely see far more detail than that on our zoom calls with my son’s class.
      The first rule of that sort of intimate relationship is not involving anyone else who hasn’t consented, even in as innocuous a detail as wearing your collar. As your students are minors, legally they could not consent even if they wanted to. So this is wrong by everyone’s standards. Do not wear it during work, whether from home or in the office.

      1. Eeeek*

        It comes off as kind of creepy to me. Why do you need to wear a sex thing in front of kids? Just weird

            1. 867-5309*

              Dominant and submissive relationships are more complex than being just sexual. Movies like 50 Shades of Grey distorted these relationships and set the wrong precedent in people’s minds.

              That doesn’t change the fact that OP probably shouldn’t wear the collar, but we should acknowledge that her wearing it might be meaningful beyond sexual.

              1. DyneinWalking*

                The whole issue was thoroughly discussed in the first link of “You may also like”. The stance of most people in that regard appears to be:
                1) It DOES have a very sexual connotation, even if that isn’t the only aspect of it
                2) It provides a kind of detail of the relationship dynamics that people generally don’t want to know even when it’s about “normal” relationships. Wedding rings, on the other hand, just provide information on the relationship status in regards to society/religion, nothing more.

                1. Lady Heather*

                  Yes. I’ll also add to this:

                  (Disclaimer: I am not a professional BDSM worker or educator. Given my pen name, I want to be explicit about that.)

                  Even if it’s not sexual, that doesn’t make it an activity that minors can consent to. In many jurisdictions where minors (above a certain age) can consent to (vanilla) sex, they can’t consent to SM and (parts of) BD – D/s is far too broad to define its legality for minors.

                  In other words: if you can’t consent to surgery without your parent or guardian’s permission, you can’t consent to spanking or flogging.
                  Or: if you can answer the question ‘If someone injures me, can my parents sue them or press charges on my behalf?’ with ‘yes’, you can’t participate in BDSM.

                  (I’m well aware that the ‘it’s assault if you consensually hit a minor’ is not equivalent to ‘it’s abuse if you wear a collar in front of a minor’ and this comment is not meant to argue that – only to add further depth to this issue.)

              2. Vina*

                But they do involve a sexual element which the majority of the population knows about and would think about if you said “dom-submissive.” People can’t not think of a very specific sexual element.

                It’s actually very different than informing someone of a relationship status “here’s my boyfriend/partner/spouse/husband.” That tells me nothing about whether or not they have sex and what flavor of sex they are having. Plenty of people with husbands don’t have sex. Those that do have it in a variety of flavors.

                Dom-submissive relationships are tricky b/c there is no way to be publicly open about it without people thinking of the sexual element. The label does indicate something about sex.

                It’s even different than poly relationships. If someone introduces me to multiple partners, I don’t necessarily have any information bout what they are doing sexually with one partner, both, or other people. All I know is they have some form of a relationship with multiple people. That may or may not include certain sexual elements. A lot of people will speculate, but that’s very different than being told about it.

                If Sally introduces herself as submissive to Joe, then I know something about their sexual relationship I didn’t ask for. Maybe I don’t care. Maybe I do. But I didn’t ask to know. I can’t really see how you can be open about being submissive without involving people in your sex life at least a little.

                This is very, very complex b/c there’s no way for a a dom/sub relationship to be out about that without involving people in their sex lives a wee bit without consent. There’s just not. Whether it’s the worst sin in the world is another matter. It wouldn’t bug me if someone said “this is Thomas, he’s my sub” when introducing him I to me. Would not care. He’s not my sub, so it’s irrelevant info to me. All I care is whether there is a relationship.

                The only time I would care is if I saw something that would seem abusive without the context. Then, yes, please tell me. But if I’m not seeing behavior that’s indicative of a dom-sub relationship, but rather, merely behavior that is indicative of a relationship, that’s the only info you need to tell me.

                My rule of thumb with respect to this specific instance is this: If you wouldn’t verbally say it to the people who see it or write it out in words, you shouldn’t wear jewelry with a specific meaning like this. Because you don’t know who understands it.

                Teacher: if you aren’t willing to say to your students OPENLY “I’m a submissive” then don’t wear an article that advertises that. You don’t know who will understand it and who will ultimately see it.

                Similarly, you will likely be in environments socially where you shouldn’t mind saying that to people, then it’s ok to wear.

                I truly sorry that you have this dilemma. I don’t know the answer. I don’t think there is an easy answer. This is a situation where we likely can’t protect everyone’s interests fully and completely. It truly sucks.

                Some of us won’t care to know “she’s submissive” even if you are involving us in your sex life a wee bit without asking. Some of us will care a lot.

                There’s no good answer to this. Again, so sorry.

                1. Another Pandemic Friday*

                  If my kid had a teacher that announced they were submissive, I would want them severely disciplined if not fired. It simply isn’t appropriate or necessary for my child to know that for you to teach them. Isn’t anything private anymore? Geez.

                2. Quill*

                  Yes, in this context you cannot risk it and wearing the item in question into your place of work (Your zoom calls are your place of work now.) is skirting the line of revealing information to people without their consent.

                3. Well-fed Artist*

                  This is a very thoughtful and articulate answer. As someone who has been in “the lifestyle” for many years, including many years as a sub to several different Doms, it is not seen by my community (generally) as permissible to include other people in your kinks without permission. This applies a million fold about children.

                  That this OP is even having a dilemma about this is worrisome for the reasons I just mentioned. That she hasn’t even thought about the practical and commonsensical reasons for not wearing a collar while she is teaching is concerning and, if you were my child’s teacher, I would have reservations about other lapses in judgment/boundaries. OP, if your Dom is asking you to do this, think very carefully about this arrangement and about your own hard nos. If you are unsure, and are part of a kink community, consider seeking out the counsel of D/s couples or Doms or subs you trust.

                  If you MUST wear something, there are many alternatives that will not be obvious to others, but that will likely fill your “requirements.” Please consider not involving people in your kink without their consent.

                4. StormyWeather*

                  This is very, very complex b/c there’s no way for a a dom/sub relationship to be out about that without involving people in their sex lives a wee bit without consent. There’s just not.

                  Nailed it right here.

                5. Cringing 24/7*

                  This is an amazingly well thought-out answer and I appreciate you taking the time to put all of this into words, Vina.

              3. anonymousForAReason*

                Sexual component is not exactly small part of it. More like large. It is not random that pretty much all blogs, reddits and what not related to bdsm are beyond “confirm you are over 18” verification.

                Also, as someone who occasionally watched that kind of content, I find the community response to 50 Shades of Grey hypocritical. The videos and stories consumed by bdsm audience frequently show abusive relationships and abusive acts. It is not like those materials would start by submissive consenting or making agreement over what is ok and what is not.

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  My objection to 50 shades was that it was really badly written. I’ve read Penthouse letters with better sentence structure, and Harlequin Romances with better characters.

                2. Curmudgeon in California*

                  IMO, 50 Shades was badly written fanfic with the original fandom context crudely filed off, then published without any sort of editing. I know plenty of people in the BDSM community that hate it, because it distorts the whole safe, sane & consensual ethic that they operate under.

                3. whingedrinking*

                  A few of my objections to 50SoG off the top of my head:
                  1) BDSM was presented as being inherently the province of damaged and messed-up people. (Christian straight out says that he’s kinky because of his bad childhood.)
                  2) Ana is *special* because unlike Christian’s previous subs, who were women who knew they were kinky and wanted to be dominated for sexual pleasure, she’s a pure virgin who submits reluctantly. That’s fine if that’s the fantasy, but it goes beyond that. The idea is that Ana can cure Christian of wanting bad, dirty sex with her healing love and then he’ll just want “hearts and flowers” vanilla with his lawfully wedded wife and then he’ll be okay. It’s EL James’s way of having her kink and eating it too – the reader is allowed to get off on the naughty stuff while still feeling righteous about how wrong it is.
                  3) The relationship is abusive, which again, if you’re saying “Abusive relationships are my kink” is one thing. However,quite a lot of the actually reprehensible stuff isn’t during play, but the non-play interactions of the two leads. The implication is that Christian spanking Ana is dirty and wrong, but him tracking her to her mother’s house across the country is ~*romantic*~ and a sign that he truly cares.

              4. anonymousForAReason*

                Sex is however large part of this. It is not random that all content related to bdsm, including relationship advice, is behind the “confirm you are over 18 this is adult content” cover.

                Also, for all that community complains about how 50 Shades of Grey does not show consent, overwhelming majority of content targeted at bdsm audience shows abusive situations. Whether personal or institutional. It is not like 50 Shades of Grey was exceptional at not showing ideal consensual situation.

              5. Lucette Kensack*

                That doesn’t seem to be true for this LW, though. She clearly is willing to take it off for parts of her life, and describes it as a part of her “fun relationship” with her partner. She just wants to engage her students in her “fun relationship,” and that’s wildly wrong.

                1. Scarlet2*

                  Exactly. If it was a 24/7 relationship commitment thing, I don’t think LW would have described it in that manner.

                2. Mookie*

                  This. She knows when, where, and under what circumstances it’s inappropriate to wear her collar around ADULTS, but decides children aren’t worth that same calculus. Fellow adults get to have preferences she abides by, but children are given no agency (and/or are identified as bystanders with no power and clout to speak up or complain). This is a really good example of an obvious abuse of power over children, and she seals the deal here by recognizing it’d be bad to get caught doing it.

              6. sara12*

                That doesn’t mean it should be a facet of her relationship that is announced to co-workers or students, though. An example that might not have people jumping to thinking about sex would be if your female co-worker, or child’s teacher, announced that she was submissive to her husband because she’s a conservative Christian. I wouldn’t want that relationship facet in a workplace or classroom either.

              7. JSPA*

                The problem is that it’s TMI, in any case. Sure, a collar is not explicitly about sex, and not always about sex. But it is explicitly about power play. TMI. That’s way too much “look and feel” specificity to bring to work. Or there’s an off-chance that it’s not a power thing, but a “we’re both puppies” or a furry thing–and that’s just as much TMI. I can’t come up with a scenario that’s not TMI.

                It’s like introducing an ex or a new date as a friend, if you bump into students at the mall: they’re absolutely not “need to know” about your life details. (That’s just as true if the ex is someone you dated while you were both in a purity ring phase and there was no sex involved.)

              8. Ermmm*

                But why risk it for a “fun relationship with [OP’s] partner” – I mean, why does anyone else need to see a visual that is related to one’s personal relationship?

            2. Queer Earthling*

              It is not always about sex* but kink is still not for everyone and certainly not without consent–consent being the thing that makes it BDSM rather than creepy. There are places you can get away with a subtle collar or something (especially if it looks like a choker or whatever), but if you’re teaching minors, I feel like you’ll pretty much always want to err on the side of caution.

              *I write professionally about my life in a D/s relationship with my asexual spouse, and I’ve written at length about nonsexual BDSM. As I’ve said before, if I can do something at work, it’s probably not a good idea to do at anyone else’s.

              1. Vina*

                There’s been a lot of mainstream stalk of consent, but also a lot within these communities (b/c I don’t think there’s one approach to BDSM, but a variety).

                The healthy BDSM communities place consent forward and first. In that respect, vanilla couples could learn a lot.

                I stand by what I said above: if you wouldn’t say it, don’t wear jewelry indicating it. You have no idea who understands it.

                Show up to a party at my place with a collar or introduce someone as “This is Thomas, my sub.” I don’t care. Do that in the courtroom, I’m going to care.

                Since LW would be out of line to say this to kids, she shouldn’t wear jewelry that indicates it.

                She has no idea when a parent might see her or whether or not those kids recognize it.

                I’ve known some pretty savvy grade schoolers.

                1. Wing Leader*

                  Oh, yes, I agree. I think OP is assuming that the kids won’t notice and won’t care, but that’s asking for trouble. Let’s just say that my 12 year old nephew got in trouble not too long ago for Googling adult topics that he saw in a video game. You have no idea where kids are going to see these things.

          1. Jane*

            Right, but people outside of this subculture are not going to understand this distinction. So why risk your job?

          2. Oxford Comma*

            You understand that. I understand that. A lot of people here will understand that. Can the OP guarantee that the parents or the kids will?

            This is a terrible job market. Is this worth the risk?

          3. NYC Taxi*

            It’s all about sex and power. It’s incredibly weird and creepy plus wholly inappropriate in a classroom setting. And there’s nothing subtle about what that collar means.

          4. Anne Elliot*

            Regardless of whether it is sexual or not, I would have strong objections to any indication of a “submissive” relationship that might be read as such by my kids. This is grounded in strong feminism and while I absolutely respect the rights of consenting adults, I tried to raise girls who understood they were of equal power and worth as boys and they did not have to be “less than” in any way. I think trying to explain why grown-ups would “pretend” to be subservient or place themselves in that role sometimes but not all the time, or all the time but only to certain people, is way, way too complex for kids to be confronted with. I would be super angry with any teacher who introduced those concepts to my kids without my permission.

            1. Lils*

              Poly sub feminist here. Not arguing with your main point and that of others–it’s deeply wrong to involve others in your sex life without consent and that goes 1000 times more for kids.

              I just want to underline the point that a person can be a strong feminist and also submissive. The consent is key, and is why submissives are often described as “in charge” of what’s happening more than the dom. In real life, I’m a type A badass who believes women are equal to men. All the doms I’ve known have been incredibly dedicated feminists in their own right too.

              That being said, I agree with you that sub motivations are numerous, multifacted, and complex. Hell, most adults find it difficult to understand. It’s not an appropriate topic for this teacher to introduce to students–whether explicitly or by hinting.

          5. some dude*

            Many people outside of the bdsm community would not understand that nuance, and she is unlikely to find a receptive audience to that argument in the parents of her students.

            I just don’t think in this case it is worth the risk. She can be happy and proud of her relationship without advertising it to her classroom, in the same way many aspects of a teacher’s personal life do not need to be advertised to their classroom.

        1. McQ*

          I agree. There is no harm in removing it for work purposes and I’m surprised the OP even has to ask because if you wouldn’t wear it to school why wear it when working remotely- what is the difference?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I agree. OP is still at work, whether they’re working from their home or working from a classroom.

            1. PrivateBDSM*

              And in this way, it is similar to being naked on a group video call when you are working from home. You may prefer to practice nudity at home because you are more comfortable, it is sexually exciting for you, you have a health condition or any other reason. But just because you are working from home doesn’t make it ok to be nude on camera.

              My husband and I practice some aspects of a BDSM relationship and neither of us work with children professionally, but I would never wear a collar in a situation where there are children. As someone said, BDSM (while not at all weird or creepy in my view) is an incredibly complex relationship or lifestyle choice that also has different aspects among different people. Children cannot understand that which doesn’t mean it is wrong for adults but just that children can’t understand that.

              I have always believed that answering my kids’ questions about sex and sexuality was important but I also recognize that other parents make different choices and while I may not agree with those choices, I want to respect them. This is no different.

              A teacher would never answer questions about her vanilla sex life because it just isn’t appropriate (regardless of the age of the student) so why would someone think it is ok to be open about this part of her sex life?

              And really, there are just boundaries that teachers should have with students especially in K-12 settings. A teacher shouldn’t discuss marital issues (even when unrelated to sex), personal financial issues, etc. Of course you might talk about your child’s wedding or birth of a grandchild, but you don’t talk about private family issues. Students are not your friends.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            Yeah, exactly this. Remote work is still work, and doing anything to make remote work seem less serious hurts everyone who remote works.

          3. Ann O'Nemity*

            The difference is, the other teachers and administrators aren’t seeing the OP. Only the kids.

            1. On Anon*

              … and whoever else may be watching what they see on their screen, like siblings and parents. Plus, if the idea is that it’s ok to covertly show something to kids — potentially normalizing it to them when they’re too young to understand — because no adults are around, then that’s extremely creepy.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                I occasionally pass by or even sit in on my kid’s classes, because they’re in the living room. I would notice a collar and know what it meant. Depending on the size / obviousness of it, my reaction would be somewhere between ‘enh’ and ‘maybe I should mention to the teacher that they’re being obvious.’

                1. Rocky*

                  I absolutely agree. There are many alternatives (discreet rings, particular underclothes etc) that should satisfy the BDSM dynamic without being at all visible or obvious. If I glimpsed a collar on my kids’ teacher’s neck I would have a quiet word with the teacher for their own sake.

            2. Observer*

              That makes it worse. The OP is not concerned about the kids but about who has the power to get them fired.

              The thing is that it’s stupid, because as so many others have noted, you don’t know what parent is going to see this or which kid might realize what it is.

              Also, I’m pretty stunned that a teacher could really think that kids are not going to look so closely or notice. There are a lot of things kids ignore, but what the teacher wears and how the teacher looks can be a MAJOR area of interest.

            3. shhhhimhiding*

              So, I’m one a BDSM fan myself, and I can absolutely say without hesitation that at the age of 10 because of my access to the internet I knew all about collars. There’s even more access to that sort of information now then when I was young. I don’t know how old the students in question are, but I will say that it would’ve made me super uncomfortable as a 10 year old to see my teacher with a collar. Definitely agree that this is Not. Good.

            4. JSPA*

              That doesn’t make it better. Maybe safer (arguable!) but not better. “I can get away with doing this in front of kids because no teachers and admins are going to walk in”–if you have a teacher, and you have that thought, recognize it as a big old flag that you should not be doing that thing!

          4. A*

            Yup. It’s the opportunistic factor that makes me uncomfortable. OP knows it isn’t acceptable, and chose to take this chance to do it anyway because they don’t/didn’t think they’d get caught. It just seems too close to playing into a fetish (with the kids unknowingly participating) for my comfort.

            1. Ann O'Nemity*

              Right, I have the same concern. I hate the possibility that the OP is getting off on the risk and exhibition. With kids.

            1. Alexandra Lynch*

              And good D/s relationships allow the sub to say, “With all due respect, Master, NO. I can’t do things that will permanently impair my health, cost me my job, or cost me custody of my kids.” and the dom accepts that as a fact of real life.

              I like to cook, so I do the cooking, and can I put a D/s spin on the fact that I provide the food they eat? Why, yes, I can. But I can’t make Girlfriend not have gas if she eats a poached egg, and I can’t make Fiance not have severe blood sugar issues if he eats pasta, cause he’s had gut surgery and has to eat low carb. If her Master can’t adjust to the real-world demands of real life, he’d better stop trying to be a dominant until he realizes his own responsibilities better.

            2. Jill*

              Putting your loved one in a position that they could lose their career and reputation just so you can get some kicks is abuse, no matter what kind of a relationship you’re in.

            3. JSPA*

              That’s the point where a “fun” relationship becomes an abusive relationship.

              OP needs to be clear on this being unprofessional to the point of becoming unemployable. OP’s partner needs to take it just as seriously.

              OP’s partner, if not abusive, will “free” OP (along with whatever conditions and play-threats and scenarios work for them) whenever OP needs to be on a work call. That’s assuming OP prizes being employable and not 100% dependent on the partner. It may be super inadvisable to give up your economic independence, but OP is free to do it. Letting the partner maneuver OP into that situation while buying into the idea that “my camera’s not good enough for them to notice”–notice that it’s the same dang whatever it is on OP’s throat, every single time? Really?–that’s either self-delusional or buying into someone else’s lie.

              Look, not all whips are sexual, and not all people into being whipped experience it as a sexual thing. You still don’t display whips on a work call. Let alone a teaching call. Many, arguably most furries don’t wear the gear primarily for sexual purposes. You still don’t take work calls in fur suit or with ears on. Let alone a teaching call. Bondage…same. Anything involving needles or scarification or blood–same. Drugs, same. Body paint, same.

              WFH is WORK. Get your freak on (sexual or otherwise) outside your work sphere.

              1. whingedrinking*

                Yup. Put it this way: I have a necklace which is made from an old French 1-franc coin. The pendant is about the size of my index fingernail and one side depicts a person in a long dress, sowing grain. People have been known to ask me if it’s a saint’s medallion, even though I could swear that from arm’s length or more away, you couldn’t even tell there was a humanoid figure on it. (I generally wear it with the other side, which has leaves on it, facing out for that reason.)
                Trust me: people can tell that you’re wearing a collar, even on a somewhat crappy webcam. And that’s quite enough.

            4. Mookie*

              Nope. She has always worn it only “sometimes,” never at work, and has demonstrated, by describing HER reasoning, that the choice to do so here is her own.

          5. Mama Bear*

            I agree. If you wouldn’t wear it for an in-person class, then don’t wear it for class, period. We joke about wearing pj pats but most offices have expectations when you have video on – like wearing clothes. IMO a good time to continue the social norms you would display in the building.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          That is weird, now that you mention it. Teachers wore wedding rings when I was a kid in school and I don’t recall anyone saying that was a creepy sex thing being performed in front of children. A sub collar, when worn in public, denotes a similar level of commitment to another person, it’s just less common to stand up in front of all your friends and family to announce that you’re going to be boning this person for the foreseeable future when you get serious in a D/s relationship, as opposed to a traditional vanilla relationship where that’s the default.

          (I agree LW1 shouldn’t wear it while teaching because of the potential fallout from judgmental/concerned parties but I believe it’s useful to call out how gross it is to say “think of the children!” whenever you’re uncomfortable instead of admitting that you have an issue with it yourself.)

          LW1: They make collars that go on your wrist like a bracelet, much more subtle and easy to conceal if you’re really leaning into the 24/7 aspect. Also congrats <3!

          1. Vina*

            Items can indicate:

            Legal/social relationship status that is committed
            Sexual relationship (dom and sub, other kink)
            Both

            This item indicates both. A wedding ring does not. That’s the different. A sub collar does tell us something about their sex lives. A Wedding ring does not.

            And it is something recognized outside of the subculture. I have a 90 year old relative in the rural Midwest who has never, ever left her county who would recognize it. (She asked me once if I knew anyone with X kink b/c she had read about it online).

            In the age of the internet, it’s surprising what people pick up.

            1. Sharikacat*

              The biggest knock against the sub collar is that it looks like a collar- complete with buckle and D-ring. There is nothing that really differentiates it from a dog collar, based on the picture provided.

              Couples can get collars made that look like more standard jewelry and are completely innocuous. In these cases, the necklaces generally don’t have as much slack, so it fits a little more like a choker. I have a friend who has worn hers for the greater part of a 25+ year marriage without anyone who doesn’t know what to look for being able to recognize it as anything other than a custom-made necklace.

              1. Smithy*

                This is where I stand. There are more ‘mainstream fashion’ options that will just read as a necklace should this be a preference of the OP and their partner.

                Personally, I don’t have a very strong take on how right or wrong it is. However, it’s just so clear that the teaching profession touches on far more sensitive areas around propriety – especially in the US, and this feels exceptionally risky from a job security position.

                In the 1990’s in a huge number of schools across the US, not being cis heterosexual would have been considered “talking about your sex life to children”. So it’s not that these lines can’t or won’t change – but given that there are “it’s just a necklace” options out there, don’t do this unless the fear of maybe losing your job is a rush of adrenaline you enjoy.

              2. Ann O'Nemity*

                I agree that using a collar that looks more like jewelry is a better option.

                Or at least turn the collar around so that the buckle is in the back and hidden, so I’d still be worried about it shifting to the front.

          2. Jam Today*

            A wedding ring identifies that a person is part of a family unit, that’s all. A collar identifies a hierarchy (and then some) within that family unit that is not the business or the interest (unless you’re into gossip) of anyone outside that unit.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              This. The wedding ring says if we’re having a barbecue I should invite two people. It doesn’t indicate their preference for any sexual positions, tax accountant role playing, furry conventions, or other things I don’t want to know about random people.

              I’m reminded of a letter elsewhere in which the LW’s problem was that her daughter thought LW was in an abusive relationship, whereas it was a fun “I’ll constantly belittle you and give you orders” DS relationship which LW didn’t want to explain to daughter; columnist replied that it was not ok to be so overt with the DS thing that third parties notice. As someone upthread says, it’s the consent that makes it BDSM rather than just creepy; outside people shouldn’t have to wonder what’s consensual and not in your relationship.

                1. starsaphire*

                  Now, my pet, you will submit your receipts, or else you’ll be getting a taste of the audit…

                2. Lexica*

                  I let my mind wander for about 30 seconds and I’ve already come up with soooo many inappropriate double entendres based on accounting terms, it’s terrible! (Good thing I’m not in the office so nobody but the cat can hear me laughing to myself.)

          3. Another Pandemic Friday*

            I would think that a sub collar was just a jewelry choice. Wearing such an item would mean nothing to many people who saw it. You can try to equate a sub collar to a wedding ring, but that is disingenuous.

            1. Kate 2*

              Um no. Unless your whole look is goth or punk, 50 Shades has made BDSM extremely well known. As others have said when your elderly relatives and teenagers know about BDSM and collars, pretty much everyone knows. I mean BDSM and furries have been shown on many crime shows.

              1. Lissa*

                Yeah, I used to wear collars out to the club all the time because it was part of the whole “look” (I was also single so it wouldn’t be indicating any particular relationship status!) but I wouldn’t wear one just out and about… though this was also 15-ish years ago, pre 50-Shades and when that sort of look was much more popular.
                I still have them now but considering I don’t go clubbing anymore and rarely have occasion to break out my old goth clothes… wearing them now would give people a very wrong impression of how interesting my life is!

                1. Alice's Rabbit*

                  Exactly. What I wore clubbing in the early 2000s is not appropriate office wear, even over video chat.

            2. BonnieVoyage*

              That’s going to depend almost entirely on the style of the collar. A collar like the one OP linked to (wide leather band, metal hardware, buckle and D-ring) – nobody is going to take that as “just a jewelry choice”. It will either be interpreted as what it is, i.e. an indicator of a BDSM lifestyle, or as a pretty full-on punk/goth/alt fashion statement which probably would not be permitted under most school or office dress codes.

          4. anonymousForAReason*

            Generally, anything related to weddings is accessible to minors. Minors are personally present at weddings. Anything related to bdsm is in adults only sections. Including “how to keep relationship healthy” advice and including “these are risks when you engage in that” advice.

            So, I find it suprising that distinction between the two is confusing.

          5. A*

            “but I believe it’s useful to call out how gross it is to say “think of the children!” whenever you’re uncomfortable instead of admitting that you have an issue with it yourself.”

            I am 100% comfortable with the idea of it, and have zero issue with people doing whatever they want to do in their relationships (so long as it is consensual etc.)….. however I still say ‘think of the children’. OP stated this is a part of her ‘fun relationship’ with partner, and now OP is including the classroom in that ‘fun relationship’. Personally, I don’t think that is acceptable and I don’t think it’s fair to assume that means I’m actually not comfortable with it myself, am lacking introspection / progressiveness, or whatever else is being insinuated.

            The fact that kids are involved is incredibly relevant in this situation, and for me is the only thing driving me to respond in a manner other than ‘you do you’.

            1. c-*

              Totally agree. As a kinky teacher myself, let me just say WE DO NOT MIX KINK WITH STUDENTS. Never. Ever. Those are minors (or young adults you have power over) whom you have a duty to educate and for whom you must provide a safe learning environment. Ergo, no violations of consent allowed. OP, teach the consent that’s central to BDSM through your behaviour, as is your job and your duty, by not involving your students in a sexual dynamic without their consent.

              Their need for comfort in the classroom, virtual or otherwise, trumps the OP’s wish for kinky wear while teaching. Even if this was a purely platonic symbol (extreme side-eye to that “I want to bring my fun relationship with my partner into the classroom” vibe), I’d still tell the OP that she needs to find something that reads platonic instead of kinky or sexual.

              So, no, the pushback against this one is not due to hypocrisy. There’s an actual violation of consent going on here.

          6. JSPA*

            Wedding rings mean “I am legally connected to this person / we are a partnership” without specifying anything about power play or power differentials.

            The problem isn’t, “I am connected to someone.” Or even, “you are likely right to assume we sometimes have sex.”

            It’s, “I want you to know that I give someone power over me.” Or even, “you are likely right to assume that we sometimes engage in sex that involves power play and degradation play.”

            Not to mention that plenty of people do find it not only comforting but stimulating / hot to make their claimed / chained status known; and at that point, you risk hitting the, “involving other people in your sex lives without their consent” boundary.

          7. Courageous cat*

            I’m sorry but I have to give a big “oh please” to this. Comparing wearing a COLLAR to a wedding ring is at best disingenuous as well as a bit… purposely obtuse. In an ideal world, maybe it would make sense that all items are equal and everything should all be treated perfectly 100% fairly with no judgment, but we don’t live in a vacuum – we live in a society, and a collar is very unlikely to ever have the same connotation as a wedding ring.

            It’s not gross to say “think of the children”, and I am a big fan of *not* shielding children from the world – what’s gross is to involve children in your personal/sexual life to that degree. I think you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s going to strongly agree with you here.

            1. Courageous cat*

              Also, it would be one thing to wear this out in public where children happen to see you – but when you’re their *teacher*? And it is their *job* to be looking at you? Nah fam. This isn’t the place or time.

          8. MeepMeep*

            I have no issues with BDSM whatsoever. I still don’t want my child coming home from school asking me about why grownups wear dog collars. I’m not even sure how I would explain BDSM to a prepubescent child. Wanna take a try at it?

            1. whingedrinking*

              Depends on the age of the child, but, “Sometimes grownups like to dress up and play pretend together too. It’s a kind of game that can be fun when everyone agrees to it” would probably work for kids under the age of about ten.
              There’s also the words of the sex researcher Emily Nagoski:
              Think about how people react to tickling. Some people do not like to be tickled at all, ever, in any way. Other people like it sometimes, in some ways. It depends on who’s doing the tickling, and where, and when. You might like it if someone you liked and trusted tickled you in a particular spot while you were playing, but not in another part of your body, or if someone you didn’t like did it, or at a time when you didn’t want to be tickled, or when you told them you really wanted them to stop. (You might even like it if they *pretended* to tickle you, or threatened to tickle you, but not if they actually did it.) Tickling is one of those things that can feel different based on how *you’re* feeling when it happens.

              1. Anonymous*

                And then the child says “Mommy, can I have a dog collar too just like Mrs. Smith? I want to pretend to be a doggie too!” Cue the parent trying to explain why this sort of game is just for grownups.

                I have a four year old and I can totally see her doing this. Or asking Mrs. Smith if they can “play doggies” together.

                1. whingedrinking*

                  So you say, “No, Ms. Smith just likes to play that game with her husband.” If the kid does decide they want to play “doggies” with another friend of the same age, it’s unlikely to be more sexual than kids playing house or dressup.
                  Don’t get me wrong here, I definitely do not think teachers should be wearing kink signifiers around their students or introducing them to the idea in the classroom. I’m just saying that in the wider world, a kid might stumble across something to do with BDSM and ask their parents for an explanation, and it’s not impossible to explain it in ways that make sense to young kids.

          9. Mookie*

            The person who originally had “an issue with it” was the LW herself, asking about whether it was wrong. She asked the question, Alison and the commentariat have answered because that’s what we do here, so characterizing people’s objections as unacceptably subjective is pretty disingenuous, and ascribing bigoted or bad faith motives to people who disagree with you seems a weird, fairly feeble Gotcha! in an open forum based on prolonged discussion.

            Also, how does one NOT “think of the children” when explicitly asked by an LW to do just that? If you’re unhappy children are being discussed, take it up with the teacher who wrote in to Alison. No one here chose this person’s profession for them.

        3. Feotakahari*

          You have no idea how massive the argument you just brought up is, and honestly, I’d prefer for this not to be one of the spaces where that argument happens, for much the same reasons this isn’t one of the spaces where massive religious arguments happen.

        4. Dahlia*

          Do you take your wedding ring off in front of kids? If you’re pregnant, do you hide away from children? Both of those signify the possibility of sex.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            No, a wedding ring merely signifies a specific legal relationship between two people. While yes, sex is normally involved in that relationship, the ring tells us nothing except that two particular people are committed to each other enough that they agree to exist as a single unit for many practical and social purposes. They could have been having sex long before acquiring rings, or might not have any sex at all. I know several elderly couples who physically cannot have sex, but married anyway for the companionship in their twilight years.
            Wearing a Dom/sub collar, however, gives explicit information about your sex life to everyone around you, without their consent. And since BD/SM is all about consent, this is not cool by the standards of that scene. Doubly so as someone in a position of authority over children. Triply so for someone who admits they only wear the collar sometimes, and not regularly anyway. That means it’s not a standard requirement in their relationship; they only do it when they feel like it, and are therefore intentionally getting off on exposing their kink to children. That is not okay by anyone’s standards.

      2. Starboard*

        OP1 – if a student uses speaker view vs gallery view, they will 100% be able to clearly see what you’re wearing.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          And most students do. We don’t care to watch all of my son’s classmates at once; it’s too distracting.

      3. notacompetition*

        Came here to say this! Do whatever you want in your private life! This is a consent issue and a social contract issue, and as a teacher you are bound to very strict standards.

      4. Gail Davidson-Durst*

        I’m so glad you brought up the consent issue – it’s the first thing that sprang to mind. As others have said, stuff like wedding rings doesn’t evoke images of specific sexual activity in the same way. I get that from LW’s perspective it’s not that simplistic, but for now, that’s what people are going to picture, and it’s not really cool to broach that with random coworkers, never mind students!

      5. lilsheba*

        That is such nonsense, a collar is just as symbolic as a wedding ring, and people seeing a collar is not the same as witnessing a fetish act or a sexual act or something. I don’t “consent” to seeing wedding rings yet they are all over, and this is the same thing, and people need to deal.

        1. NJK*

          No, they are not close to the same thing, not in the culture at large. I’m kink-adjacent, and seeing collars, leashes, hoods, etc., doesn’t faze me–in appropriate places. Private spaces.

          To me, it’s a little like cussing. At home, I cuss like a sailor. In public, I dial it down–and would give serious side-eye to someone wearing a T-shirt that had (CUSS WORD) on it in big letters. It’s their right, but it’s kinda rude. At work, dialed WAY back–especially in front of students. Same thing for kink.

        2. Alice's Rabbit*

          No, the two are not equivalent at all, and anyone on the scene would be highly offended by the comparison. A wedding ring denotes a specific legal and social relationship between two adults. It tells us nothing about their sex life, other than it’s likely exclusive.
          A collar, meanwhile, is explicit sex paraphernalia. It gives us details about a person’s life that most people don’t need to know. Especially children. And involving anyone in your kink without their prior consent is wrong, both morally and legally. Children cannot consent.
          What’s more, this letter writer admits that she only wears the collar sometimes. She is not expected to wear it constantly, or even often. Which indicates that she only wears it for the titilation factor, not as a sign of commitment, making the involvement of children in her foreplay even more wrong.

          1. Blarfderder*

            I think anyone making the argument that a wedding rings implies something about someone’s sexuality isn’t totally off base. If you think about it there are a lot of strange, sexually suggestive rituals that are accepted as the norm because they are rooted in herteronormative monogamy and seen as normal. Most anyone knows what a white wedding dress is historically indicating, you know? Historically bigots claimed openly same sex relationships were ‘flaunting’ their sexuality to children so I do wonder now that there has been progress (and now employment protections!) on that issue, perhaps different types of relationships (such as polyamory and D/s arrangements) may get the same treatment where the expression of the relationship in public is able to be seen as distinct from the sexual aspect. Not to say all these things are the same but it’s interesting to ponder!

    3. allathian*

      Removed. It’s not okay to call other people’s kinks mental health problems here! – Alison

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        allathian: Continuing to post the same comment after I’ve told you to stop isn’t okay and I’m now banning you from commenting further on this post.

      2. Pomona Sprout*

        I guess I shouldn’t be completely shocked that someone went there, but still… someone actually went THERE!? Wow, just WOW.

        Thanks for shutting this down, Alison.

    4. Anywhere*

      A few letter writers ask these kinds of questions with sub collars and always seem to think it’s not “obvious” because it “has a narrow band” or “the metal pieces are hidden” and so on… I wonder if, after being in the kink culture for a while, they stop realizing that ANY leather collar LOOKS OBVIOUSLY LIKE A LEATHER COLLAR AND IS NOTICABLE. Nobody is mistaking it for a regular choker or a necklace. What looks subtle to you is not subtle outside your subculture.

      OPs, if you are wearing a collar, assume everyone can tell it is a collar. They might not know it’s a Dom/sub thing but they will at least wonder “why is this person wearing a dog collar like jewelery?” This has nothing to do with whether or not it’s appropriate at your job. Everyone can see it’s a leather collar like what you hook a leash to.

      So, if you don’t want or can’t let your students/coworkers/bosses see you wearing a sub collar… don’t wear it at all. Even on a video call. In fact, that may be worse because it’s easy to take a screenshot.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes, I thought it was going to be actually something subtle. This looks like something I’d buy for a dog. Seeing it on a human looks very punk/kink and is not subtle at all.

        1. 867-5309*

          I also realized right away what it was and could imagine a student asking, “Ms Jones, why are you wearing your dog’s collar?” It wasn’t something subtly that could be explained away.

          I don’t care if someone wears it but people will notice it and in a job like teaching, unfortunately you don’t want that to happen.”

          1. Amanda*

            Even if they don’t ask OP, they might ask their parents. “Mommy, Ms. Jones was wearing a dog collar today! Can I wear Pluto’s collar too?”

            And then there goes OP’s carreer…

          2. Wing Leader*

            That’s what I was thinking. Kids probably aren’t going to know what a D/s collar is, but they are totally going to recognize it as a dog collar. And you can bet one of them is going to ask about it. Definitely not worth the risk for OP.

            1. A*

              They might not understand the intricacies, but I speak from experience when I say that growing up with the internet…. chances are you’d know it’s ‘not just a dog collar’. Not everyone of course, ut it is definitely not uncommon and has drastically changed from generations that had an analogue upbringing.

              1. Monkey princess*

                Um no. Just because you could recognize kink gear after “growing up with the internet” (whatever that means) doesn’t mean that this is a universal experience for all kids ages 3 and up to be able to say “that’s not just a dog collar!”

                1. Alice's Rabbit*

                  No one is saying that all kids will recognize it. Just that odds are good at least one student (or someone in their household who is within sight of their computer screen) will. And all it takes is one.

        2. Scarlet2*

          Yeah, some of them can actually be mistaken for a choker or a necklace of some kind, but that one looks 100% like a dog collar.
          If the kids are young, they probably go right out and ask her why she’s wearing a dog collar, if they’re older, well… they’ll talk about it and risk taking pictures, etc.
          Honestly, if OP doesn’t think it’s appropriate to wear it at school, why would it be appropriate to wear when she’s teaching on video?

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          *scrolls back up*
          *clicks link*
          … Geez.
          LW, that is like the dictionary definition of Not Subtle.

      2. MK*

        Particularly since there is no current fashion trend that would help obscure its meaning. I remember several years back, it seemed like every other person was wearing a choker neclace of some sort; a collar might have blended into that background as a fashion choice. But now hardly I don’t see anyone wearing them, so a collar would stand out, and possibly catch people’s attention.

        1. JessaB*

          Yes, or those studded leather chokers that looked like stuff metal bands wore, a lot of goth and alternative music people had those.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Ah shit are we not wearing those anymore? I haven’t really updated my fashion choices since the late 80s, it all just comes back around again every 5-10 years or so anyway.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I wear an ornate metal/black velvet choker often. It actually goes really well with a suit! It’s as close as I’m willing to get to a collar around coworkers/children/older family members etc.

          1. MK*

            I am sure there are collars that can pass as jewelry. My point was that when many people were wearing choker necklaces, you might be able to wear a plain collar (like the one in the post) and pass it off as unusual taste in accessories. When hardly anyone is wearing chokers, a “dog” collar stands out.

            1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

              I just did a quick google for “discreet day collars” and there are a ton of options in varying prices that look like ordinary jewelry.

            2. JSPA*

              If it were an occasional thing, sure. But if it’s on, for every call, it’s either going to register as kink, or at minimum, they’re goin to notice it like the “green ribbon” / “velvet ribbon” ghost story (where the guy unties the ribbon that he’s been told never to touch, and the lady’s head falls off). It’s not going to pass without notice.

        3. LITJess*

          Ah, I just commented below, but chokers do seem to be making a small comeback! So I do think she could get away with a subtle choker necklace.

      3. selena*

        ‘what is subtle inside your subculture is not subtle outside it’

        The analogy that jumps to my mind is wearing a startrek T-shirt: at a scifi-convention it makes you hidden in the crowd, but wear it at a bussiness convention and it makes you ‘that weird trekkie’

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think this is a good analogy. I doubt a fandom t-shirt would be considered appropriate for teaching in most schools.

          1. Quill*

            Generally the dress code tries to eliminate all non-school-centric text and logos… with some exceptions.

            For example, teachers are more likely to get away with wearing local college swag or local sports t-shirts than Fishing Derby 2016 “kick some bass” or, say, a my little pony shirt. But it’s very subjective.

        2. Project Manager*

          One of my favorite things about my job is that I can, in fact, wear my Property of Starfleet Academy Athletic Department sweatshirt to work and no one bats an eye. I usually get compliments on it.

        3. Amy Sly*

          One of the hardest things in the first few hours after going from con life to normal life: people look at you weird if you just go up to strangers and gush about “I love your shirt!”

      4. EventPlannerGal*

        Yes, that. Sometimes people do post things that just look like unusual jewellery, like infinity necklaces or chain necklaces with a padlock or whatever, and I can see how those might be wearable. But that? Is a dog collar. Nobody looking at that, or anything like that, is going to think it’s anything other than a dog collar because it is a dog collar.

      5. RabbitRabbit*

        Yeah, wow. I’ve got some experience in this area (not the 24/7 lifestyle part) and I expected something that was actually subtle before I looked at the photo. That’s the opposite of subtle. OP, that is quite obviously a leather *collar* and not something that would be worn to be stylish or punk. If a kid took a photo of ‘teacher wearing a dog collar’ and showed it to their parents, I can guarantee you most parents would flip out.

      6. SometimesALurker*

        I know that this specific, actual collar may be important to you, OP, the way many people’s specific wedding rings are important to them, so this may not work. But if you haven’t considered this already, could you and your partner choose another item of jewelry you could be collared with, one that doesn’t look *anything* like a collar but has the same connotations between the two of you?

      7. LITJess*

        So a bunch of the YouTubers I watch these days are wearing those stretchy choker necklaces that were popular in the 90s as one of their signature pieces of jewlery. They’re cute and kinda nostalgic and I was thinking of getting one myself. Could OP explore that as a SFW option? Just a quick browse of Etsy shows they have ones made of dainty chains, ribbons, and those stretchy plastic loops.

        I don’t know if it works for the BDSM context, but it seems like a compromise way that OP could honor her relationship without risking exposing her private life to her students or their parents.

        Note: I am assuming OP is a woman. If OP is a man, unfortunately I don’t think this solution would work unless you got a really low-profile chain necklace.

        1. Nic*

          Fun fact: I rediscovered the stretchy beaded “tattoo choker” that I bought while I was at university around the millennium, about a week before I read an online article talking about how they were coming back into fashion. I found that serendipity hilarious. (I wore it out to a Halloween party a couple of months later, to cosplay as Nymphadora Tonks, with a pink wig and grey/black/purple outfit.)

          1. A*

            Oh man! I’m so jealous! I didn’t save any of mine. It makes me cry when I see them in the stores now for $20 a pop. I’m pretty sure most of mine came from vending machine bubbles for $0.50 back in the day.

            Now if only butterfly clips could come back…..

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          The difficulty removing them is usually part of the requirement, so stretchy really wouldn’t work.
          Most of the metal ones look obvious to me too; the arch of the padlock and the keyhole is a giveaway. But there are some with the lock in a back clasp that would slide past almost everyone. The dog collar style is pretty noticeable, and yes, a teacher should not risk that.

        3. Alice's Rabbit*

          For a man, a tie is the perfect option. Have his partner pick his tie in the morning, and maybe even help him tie it. If it’s a long tie (as opposed to a bow tie) they can even get a tie clip or tack that he wears every day. Subtle enough for the public, but can carry the same meaning for them.

      8. Falling Diphthong*

        if you don’t want or can’t let your students/coworkers/bosses see you wearing a sub collar… don’t wear it at all.
        This.
        This isn’t really like hoping your black yoga pants pass as dress pants if you have to stand up.

      9. Confused*

        I’d be very upset if my child’s teacher wore something like that. OP even says they only “sometimes” wear it so why is it the appropriate time to wear it while teaching on camera? I don’t care if teachers have personal lives and strongly disagree with teachers being fired for drinking and wearing bikinis on their personal private social media, but wearing something in front of my child that blatantly tells them about your sex life is disgusting and honestly sexual harassment.

          1. Erstewhile lurker*

            Teacher: “Guys, I’m doing it, I’m popping my collar”

            Kids: “Noooooo!”

        1. Gaia*

          Same! I legit thought “I know things are more casual but you can wear a collared shirt if you want….”

          But no, you can’t wear a sub collar. I am not part of this subculture but I would 100% recognize that on a zoom call and in a professional setting I would be incredibly uncomfortable.

        2. A*

          Same here! Had to do a double take. I was worried I was in for the most boring post ever. OH HOW WRONG I WAS!

      1. Meg Murry*

        My first thought was RGB’s collar collection, such as her famous “dissent collar” and her “majority opinion” collar. Which still could be slightly controversial if OP were wearing them to express disagreement or agreement with the meeting topic, but probably less so than the leather sub collar

        1. Doctor Evil*

          I would be absolutely here for this. Come to think of it, it’s a much classier way of expressing myself in Zoom meetings than I usually default to by the end of the week.

          But on-topic – I think we get fooled into thinking that the “self-view” in Zoom or Teams shows us the same as what others see. It doesn’t! My hair always looks fantastic in that little tiny picture, but other people see ALL THE FRIZZ when my head shot is blown up. What I think is subtle generally isn’t, much to my horror. So this is probably about your level of risk tolerance, and as a teacher – regardless of how fair or not you think this is – I’d err on the side of caution.

        2. NotRealAnonForThis*

          So wait, my tank top with stylized versions of her dissent collars shouldn’t be worn for work meetings?
          (I kid, I kid. I know better.)

        3. Sasha*

          Also Madeleine Albright’s brooch/pin collection, which she used as an additional layer to deliver messages. She has a whole book on them, it’s pretty great. She admitted they have landed her in hot water before though: “When I went to Russia with President Bill Clinton for a summit, I wore a pin with the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no evil monkeys, because the Russians never would talk about what was really going on during their conflict with Chechnya. President Vladimir Putin asked why I was wearing those monkeys. I said, because of your Chechnya policy. He was not amused. I probably went too far.”

          1. UKDancer*

            Lady Hale the recently retired president of the UK Supreme Court has an interesting array of brooches she wears on various occasions and which have led to much mirth and debate about their significance and relationship to the case she was deciding.

            She had a special liking for spiders, centipedes and frogs.

            I’ve always thought she was awesome and this just confirmed it.

      2. On Anon*

        The ads spoilered this for me, by inserting an ad for a pet supply store right with the letter. I expect the LW’s doesn’t have bone icons on it, however.

        1. Ey-not-Cy*

          My ads are for led dog collars or personalized ones. I thought it was ironically funny. But as an educator myself…NO NO NO! WHY ARE THEY EVEN ASKING THIS?!?!?

        2. KoiFeeder*

          If someone wears a dog collar with bones on it, does it cycle back out of sexual connotations and into blindingly weird?

          1. JSPA*

            Puppy play. Which this may be; it’s not necessarily standard D/S stuff. But, no, you probably can’t be out at work as a puppy, either.

    5. SunnyWind*

      I agree with ‘don’t do it’, but there’s reason (don’t know it myself, can only surmise) that the OP wants to wear it ‘publicly’ and take its status outside of the personal relationship. They were, IMO, seeking permission.

      1. Scarlet2*

        I understand and agree with what you’re saying, but some spaces are really off-limits and the fact that she’s currently teaching remotely really doesn’t make any difference.
        She can still wear it everywhere she goes when she’s not teaching.
        Of course, if it’s so important to be “public” about her relationship status, she’s free to wear it for teaching as well, but she should be aware that 1) it’s not nearly as discrete as she thinks it is and 2) it’s a really high risk for her career.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        Yeah, this is it. The relationship is important and they want to convey that importance and/or have a physical reminder of its important that’s visible to people besides them, even if those people don’t necessarily get what they’re looking at.

        There are more discrete collars available, and I recommend that if it’s something LW1 feels strongly about. They can also get any kind of choker (ribbon, chain, etc) or an infinity necklace and designate that their “public everyday wear” collar. It doesn’t have to have a full buckle and a sub ring to have a similar meaning.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Even if those people don’t necessarily get what they’re looking at.
          First, I’m not wild about inside joke clothing. Second, people can tell what they’re looking at here.

    6. Casper Lives*

      It’s already been screenshot. I’m guessing she teaches teenagers because no parents have stepped in to direct their kids to focus, and noticed the extremely obvious animal collar on OP1’s neck.

      Teenagers are gossips all day. E.g. in my high school, a teacher had a shirtless Pride picture in the newspaper that was available online. Every student there googled the picture as word got around. He was a great teacher and this wasn’t an issue IMO but it caused a parental stir. (No, he wasn’t fired)

      1. Jemima Bond*

        I too would lay bets they’ve already noticed tbh unless LW is very lucky. Most kids spread gossip, harmful or not; it’s just more outlandish if they are little. (Teenagers – omg Ms Ferguson is into S&M [yes I know that’s thot the same but teenagers!]. Eight year olds – oooooh I heard that Ms Ferguson pretends to be a dog at home, she sleeps in a kennel and everything!)

        Best to stop wearing before a parent sees it or hears the rumours. But as per the linked thread, would a necklace-resembling alternative work? I think LW basically needa deniability.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          It depends on whether OP wants that compromise, which may boil down to why she’s wearing the collar. If it’s to remind herself / her partner of a personal commitment, there’s back-locking necklaces that are indistinguishable. But if it’s to signal the relationship to a larger world, then probably not.

          I *think* maybe that LW wants to signal, and is asking if conference calls have low enough resolution / kids have little enough awareness that the signal won’t be visible to kids.

          LW, dunno if you’ll make it this far, but my male child who is not into jewelry noticed a discreet chain /heart lock on a friend and asked about it last year when he was 11. He could tell it was something different than the jewelry the other women were wearing. It was in person, but looking over my kid’s shoulder, the necklace would be visible. Based on my kid, other kids would notice that it’s an alternative style.

          1. pancakes*

            In any case, there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that children are always alone when they’re at the computer for class or to communicate with their teacher. The idea is nonsensical.

            1. Observer*

              This is true. ESPECIALLY during a time when a significant portion of the population is working from home.

          2. Starbuck*

            If the point IS signaling, how on earth is that appropriate for a video call with students? That seems to make it much worse.

      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        I’d expect for parents to be more involved if she teaches teenagers, but then I grew up during the late stanic panic era.

      3. JSPA*

        Shirtless isn’t a tip-off on one’s specific practices, though, and a parade isn’t a teaching call. Ass-less chaps, the outcome would likely have been different; ditto shirtless and decorated during a class session.

        The lesson isn’t, “collars are bad.” It’s, “you’re teaching a class–act like it.”

    7. MsLipman*

      This has GOT to be a joke. The collar in the linked photo isn’t at all small or discreet, and there’s no way it could be mistaken for a necklace or a ribbon.

      And video chat focuses attention on the head far more. You might conceivably miss a collar in real life. No way would anyone miss a whopping huge dog collar on Zoom.

      1. BethDH*

        I wonder if OP has the Zoom layout set as a gallery (to see all participants) and is forgetting that students probably have it set on speaker view. When I use my desktop screen for webinars and am focused on a single speaker, their head is “closer” than it would be in real life and as big or bigger than it would be at a similar distance.

      2. arjumand*

        I don’t usually go there but I agree – I raised my eyebrows when I read the letter but then when I looked at the picture I just burst out laughing with an audible WHAT THE EFF!
        That’s a dog collar. how can it be seen as anything other than a dog collar? I am a teacher, and once during IRL teaching a girl remarked that my lipstick didn’t match my nail polish – my TOENAIL polish. That’s how closely kids scrutinise you.
        Now imagine the current situation when you are a head and shoulders on a screen, literally in their faces. Come on, now.

        1. Dumpster Fire*

          What kids notice (and are willing to comment about) is incredible. I’ve had girls comment on my cleaned-up eyebrows after I’ve had my hair cut and colored! (and I do the brows frequently, it’s not a huge change overnight!) So if you think they’re not going to notice – and tweet out pictures of – a leather collar, think again!

          1. NapkinThief*

            I got my eyebrows done, and my 6th grade boys noticed immediately – and loudly!

        2. Tex*

          I can imagine a bunch of kids innocently thinking that it’s the latest fashion statement. Imagine starting the next zoom class and half the class of 8 year olds are wearing their pet’s collars!

      3. !*

        One would think. Sadly, we literally have a few people farther down in the comments trying to argue that this is completely ok. Mind blown!

    8. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’d recommend they look into other forms of submissive jewellery if they need to appear in front of children. There are lockable rings (your dominant holds the only key) that just look like ordinary rings for a distance, only close up do you see the difference. There are also lockable collars that look like sleek jewellery bands around the neck.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I learnt about these a long while ago from my then girlfriend. She ran a little business making ones that looked like jewelled necklaces basically.

        Not saying don’t wear a collar. I share this kink myself. Just suggesting it be a style that is discrete for work.

      2. CJ Record*

        I’ve seen folk use those stretch link collars that were all over teen girl fashion in the 90s as a work-safe placeholder. Or even a ribbon collar with specific fasteners. Point being that there are plenty of work-safe, even classroom-safe, options that aren’t as…obvious. I’d be willing to bet if OP1 did digging around in culture-specific spaces online, they’d find plenty of classroom-safe advice, because I can guarantee you this is a solved problem in the greater community.

      3. Quill*

        Honestly though? There should be enough leeway in the relationship that if it’s not practical or appropriate to continue wearing their relationship signifier at work, then that has not changed even though “at work” is in front of a camera on the kitchen table.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          True, but I’m trying to help with alternatives. I do agree that thinking working from home means you can act like you’re not at work is wrong.

      4. JSPA*

        If it’s a puppy thing, try a locking belt around your waist (under your clothes) and a leash to that (from behind). Or anything that does not involve, “I display to kids what I would not get away with amid coworkers and my boss.”

    9. high school teacher*

      I am shocked at the first letter. I’m a high school teacher and while I love my job, kids can be EXTREMELY observant. I can’t believe this person is risking it like this. That is something that could get you immediately fired.

      1. TimeCat*

        I’m also struggling to understand the motivation. That’s not subtle at all. You can 100% get fired. Kids will 100% notice. Why on earth would you think that was a good idea?

      2. Delta Delta*

        A friend of mine was terminated from her job as a teacher in a very conservative district because she was in a photo on someone else’s Facebook page, and the photo had a couple of beer bottles on a table near her. Kids noticed Mrs. Jones drinking beer (!!!), which she wasn’t, but the fact she was beer-adjacent was enough to send some people into absolute hysterics.

        So, yeah.

        1. RecentAAMfan*

          She got fired for being “beer-adjacent”. Crazy.
          I wonder what Europeans make of this!

          1. SweetestCin*

            I’d guess similar to what they make of most of the other more “Puritanical nonsense” that comes out of this country. Even being born here, there is a lot of nonsense that makes me roll my eyes far enough so that I inspect the back of my skull. (Most will start with “…but think of the children!” I’ve found!)

            1. UKDancer*

              Well personally as a European I think it’s ridiculous but then there’s never been a problem in the UK with teachers going to the pub, going on holiday and living a normal life, at least not in my lifetime.

              I mean getting raging drunk at work is a problem but most people would not find it surprising that a teacher might go for a drink from time to time because it’s a thing a lot of people do.

            2. V8 Fiend*

              “But think of the children” is why I’m no longer a public librarian. I got tired of justifying that no, we weren’t going to pull [insert potentially offensive to someone] book of the shelf to “protect your child” because that’s actually *not* my job.

              Seriously, in the year that I worked at a public library, we had five significant book challenges that got the city involved. In my five and half years in an academic library? Zero!

              1. Quill*

                To quote one of the programming librarians at my local library “you can veto a book your kid checks out if you want, but that’s NOT my job.”

                I really miss the library’s social events.

          2. c-*

            *past self sips her second beer in her European teacher’s lounge*
            Don’t judge us, it was the “Thank god we survived marking all those papers” end of the year party.
            *refills the headmaster’s champagne glass*

            1. Anonymous*

              To be clear, I’m sure the principal/headmasters here would absolutely drink with the teachers at an end of the year party! Its the crazy parents who don’t want teachers to be real people outside of school, and they’re typically loud enough and annoying enough that many school boards (or other governing bodies) listen to them when they shouldn’t. Parents have been allowed to run amok in schools far too much in the US.

              1. Quill*

                People who showed up for microbiology lab the week before thanksgiving break in college discovered that they were about to brew some beer.

                To quote the professor: this is science! And as far as I’m concerned all of you are taking your bottles, unopened, home, where they will be consumed by people who are over 21.

                (To make matters worse: it was a dry campus. When my RA turned up to study with my roommate and saw my bottles, she said “both of you are 21, right? Good, I don’t have enough energy to give a duck.”)

          3. Miso*

            At least in my European country we totally drink alcohol together with our teachers once we’re allowed to. So yeah.

          4. arjumand*

            In my country there’s a policy that we can’t interact with students on social media until they stop being our students.
            having said that, the country’s so tiny there’s going to be lots of overlap with friends of friends, first, second or third cousins, etc. So something like this (kids/parents seeing teachers photos on social media) might happen. I can see a teacher getting into trouble if she’s seen dancing on tables with a vodka bottle in each hand, but beer-adjacent? Nah.

          5. Estrella the Starfish*

            Hello, European here. Yes, insane that a teacher would be fired for having a beer, let alone being near one. But it would not be surprising in the slightest if a teacher here was fired for wearing a BDSM collar in class.

        2. Pretzelgirl*

          That’s insane. It reminds me of that list went around social media, of the requirements of a teacher in the 20’s. It was something like no loitering in ice parlors! The shock the horror!

        3. MidwestTeacher*

          My union specifically emailed us all (last year, pre-covid) that the district cannot punish us for drinking alcohol if we’re invited to a grad party, since it’s not on schools grounds or during contract hours. I don’t know that I would personally, but this story is why I don’t think I could teach in a state without a good union. No job should have that level of control over your life.

    10. Jane*

      Agreeing with this OP1 – plus, you are involving other people in your kink without their permission. That’s not okay.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Other people who are underage.

        There’s an adult/child dynamic here that is being overlooked. OP #1, whether in the classroom or on video, as a professional charged with the instruction of children, you have an obligation to provide a safe environment for learning. Keep the kink out of it!

        1. Anooooooon*

          Not even just because they’re children – they’re her students!! Even if they were of age, the inherent power dynamic in the student-teacher relationship makes this incredibly not ok.

      2. Thiazin-red*

        Other people who are minor children. There is something very wrong with someone who wants to involve a bunch of kids in their kink.

    11. Dagny*

      Bigger issue: when you’re on a video Zoom call with work, you should generally be acting like you are at work. It’s okay to be in more casual clothing or to have your family or pets in the background, maybe as you would at a company BBQ in which family is invited. But you shouldn’t be doing things on a Zoom call that are completely inappropriate at work.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s a venue where you might dress one degree more casually, say jeans rather than khakis. You might let a little more of your personal life show, like an art deco print behind you, and your cat occasionally comes to check if this is a food occasion, and your fully (and boringly) clothed partner passes in the background to get a cup of coffee.

            1. Dagny*

              This is exactly what I was driving at. Sartorially, it’s akin to a company BBQ; otherwise, be as professional as the office.

    12. T2*

      OP1 there are absolutely no professional locations where wearing that collar is acceptable outside of a strip club. Don’t do it.

      On your off hours, no one cares. But at work, no one, and I do mean no one is interested in what you do at home.

    13. A*

      Yup! I also think OP is seriously underestimated kids awareness of these kinds of things. Granted, OP didn’t stated what ages they teach so this might not apply to say kindergartners – but kids can be exposed to things like this (I’m choosing my words carefully as I’m using a work laptop and would rather not type a million red flag words) at a much younger age than prior to the internet. Speaking from experience. I was never into these things, or seeking them out – but I was aware fairly early on in elementary school thanks to the internet.

      Oh, and also – Hot Topic.

    14. Alexandra Lynch*

      The kinky educators I know just wear a necklace that looks vanilla and has symbolic significance for the two of them.

      And for the record, my fiance wears a stainless steel bracelet on one wrist, and my girlfriend wears an anklet. No one notices, and that’s the point. It’s none of their business. Save the visible collars for community events where it’s not going to bother anyone.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        And for the dudes who are subs, let your Dom pick out your tie for the day. Maybe even tie it themselves, if they know how. The significance is still there, without the obvious public reveal.

    15. Nic*

      Yup. There was a kid on the Am I The Assh*le? reddit sub a couple of weeks ago, asking how badly he’d screwed up by pointing out in a private message to a friend that when the teacher had had to readjust her camera angle, a sex toy had come into view in the background. He’d allowed himself only a short while to think of its being funny before getting back to work, but his friend then messaged a bunch of other people in class, and then someone took screenshots and posted them on Instagram…the whole thing went viral and by the time the lesson ended his teacher was already getting nasty messages from random people on the internet, and she was in tears. It was a complete mess.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        The thing is, it was absolutely the teacher’s fault. That should never have been visible on the video, period. No excuses, no exceptions.
        Either don’t video chat in your bedroom, or tidy it up beforehand. It doesn’t matter if the object is out of frame, there’s still a chance it might be seen.

        1. Observer*

          But that’s not the point here. The point is that the kid saw it and UNDERSTOOD what it was.

          The OP is in deep denial if they really think that no one will see or notice.

          So, either denial about what kids are like, or silly excuse making about bad behavior. Neither are good things to see in a teacher.

        2. Treebeardette*

          It’s the teachers fault that she received harassing messages? It’s the teachers fault a student caused this? I think we should lay off the victim blaming and recognize that these are weird times for everyone right now. We don’t need to be an internet mob.

          1. Anon*

            A student didn’t cause it. The teacher caused it when they left their personal sex toy out where their minor students could see it.

          2. Alice's Rabbit*

            While the response is not okay, the cause of the situation is the teacher’s choice to make the video chat in her bedroom without putting her sex toy away.
            It doesn’t matter what profession you’re in (with the obvious exception of the sex trade) having a dildo visible during a video conference is inappropriate. To some people, it borders on sexual harassment. That would require some sort of disciplinary action, though a stern verbal warning will usually suffice for a first offense. But if you wouldn’t bring it (or show a picture of it) to the office, it shouldn’t be visible in video chat.
            Her being a school teacher only makes it worse. She is in a position of responsibility for minors. That comes with certain obligations.

    16. TardyTardis*

      Although I might be tempted to cover it up with an actual necklace (I suppose hot gluing a couple of rhinestones is right out…).

  2. Anononon*

    Thank goodness for “Ms.” I often write letters or formal emails, and I can’t imagine having to pick between Miss and Mrs.

    (Also, on that note, can some people in the legal field stop with addressing letters or motions to “Sirs”?)

    1. I can only speak Japanese*

      I once got an email addressed to me and a few other women starting with “Dear Sirs.” My PS was “not a sir.”

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        In the 80s and 90s I posted job ads that included my traditionally female first name, and still got lots of cover letters addressing me as ‘Dear Sir’ – all of them were men. In my follow up letters to decline them – for valid reasons, I promise – I addressed those folks as ‘Dear Madam.’

        Got a few calls and letters from outraged men, demanding to know why I assumed that, because I was a woman, they were too? Too bad they couldn’t savor the irony.

        1. Ann Nonymous*

          I’ve done the same a number of times in the ancient past. At least the recipients had the good grace(?) to not mention it or it didn’t even register.

      2. Dela-WHERE?*

        I am married, but retained my family name. My family name is very unusual in this country, less so in my family’s country of origin. If you google me, beyond my professional stuff you can see a (meager) baby registry with my name and my spouse’s (different) name. And yet, I have received cover letters addressed to “Mrs. [MySurname].” Cover letters where they’ve researched not just the job, but me and my work. And would have come across said registry. I haven’t corrected them because coincidentally, none of their application materials ever blew me away and I never needed a follow up.

        FWIW, they were all white men with advanced degrees.

    2. Four lights*

      An attorney I worked for started letter with “Greetings:”. Avoids the whole sir/madam issue

      1. virago*

        That’s how the Selective Service started out letters to draftees during the Vietnam era, a much older cousin (who was drafted) once told me.

        “Sendeth greetings! Our good friend!” is how the sitting British monarch begins letters to other heads of state. (I presume all of the current monarch’s correspondence is still carried out on pen and paper.) (Etiquette rules with no relevance to my own life are the ones that I remember, heh.)

    3. Ariaflame*

      I must admit it was at least one of the reasons I got a PhD so I could reply ‘Dr.’ if people asked what my title was. But I still get a fair bit of Miss or Mrs.

      1. Darned if you do*

        Thank you! I am thrilled when I have to write to someone with a title like DR. It takes the stress of being afraid someone will be insulted away.

        1. Leah K*

          That’s why I always liked writing emails to clients in Japan. You just add “-san” to their last name, and you are being polite and proper without having to guess the gender or the marital status of the recipient.

      2. Garlicky*

        My default is “Dr” but I channel Mrs Danvers of the du Maurier novel / Hitchcock film “Rebecca” when someone addresses me as “Mrs” and feel secretly transgressive and powerful.

        1. Ariaflame*

          Usually, ‘oh, ok’. Usually the ones that call me Mrs are the scammers and telemarketers that call my landline. Can I talk to Mrs Flame? Nope. Nobody here by that name.

          1. Tisiphone*

            I do that too. Then I follow up with “What do you want?” because these kinds of telemarketers never lead off with identifying themselves and the purpose of their call. One such asked for a non-existent Mr. or Mrs. and when I said there’s no such person, they asked for the homeowner. OK, not important who you talk to.

            Next time I might channel the Doctor from Star Trek Voyager and say: Please state the nature of your request for my time.

      3. Doc in a Box*

        I get a lot of “Miss” or “Ma’am.” If it’s in a social setting, or a setting where my job isn’t relevant (e.g. getting my oil changed), I let it slide.

        I did once get an official mailing from one of my professional societies addressed to “Ms. Doc-in-a-Box.” On the reply card, I crossed out “Ms.” and wrote in “Dr.” and in the comments section, reminded them that our being detail-oriented is highly valued in our profession. (Decided not to specifically mention the sexism, because IME people get nearly as defensive about sexism as they do about racism.)

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          Narf. The spouse gets annoyed at one of their alma maters which continually addresses mail from the medical school/residency office to Mr. Tall Americano. “They conferred the degree! How can they get this wrong?!”

          1. JSPA*

            Mr. Tall Americano, Ph.D. is just as correct as Dr. Tall Americano.
            (Dr. Tall Americano, Ph.D. is incorrect / redundant.)

            1. Captain Planet, DDS*

              If the medical school is sending the letter, better than even odds it’s Dr. Tall Americano, MD.

        2. Amy Sly*

          Maybe it’s a Southern thing, but when I need to call after someone presenting female when I don’t know her name, you bet I’m going to say “Ma’am! You forgot/dropped this.” Do you want me to channel Jerry Lee Lewis and go “Hey LAY-dee!”?

          1. doreen*

            Nope, nobody wants you to go all Jerry Lewis – but I can never understand what’s wrong with “Excuse me! You forgot/dropped this”. Avoids having to decide whether to use “Miss” “Ma’am” or ” Sir” or “Mister” and taking the risk of offending someone when you choose incorrectly. You think women get touchy about being called ” Ma’am”? Don’t make a mistake and call one “Sir”.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Hell, I’ve met plenty of men who get touchy about “Sir,” as if being addressed as an adult was an offense to their mental image of themselves as 17 years old. But that’s a whole different rant.

              Personally, I was quite amused the day one of my high school students called me “Sir,” because it was obviously an instinctual-level response to the tone of authority in my voice.

              1. Erotica Reader*

                I’d feel awkward being called Sir, but that’s probably because I’ve attended enough munches that it doesn’t just mean “adult male human” to me.

          2. Delphine*

            You don’t need to identify them by their gender at all. It’s really easy to just say, “Pardon me,” to everyone.

          3. RoseDark*

            The problem is “presents female”. I get “ma’am”ed way more often when wearing a binder and masculine clothing than I ever do in a dress. It’s like people have to double down on feminizing me when I’m trying really hard to present male.

            1. JSPA*

              I think of it as the gender equivalent of the robot-human “uncanny valley.”

              It’s not limited to those who’re trying to pass; I get “sir” all the time (without binding), followed by a lot of fluster when my voice, ass, chest (or my bemused stare) registers (and overrides the broad shoulders, short hair and T shirt first impression).

              For women who were AMAB, one way to deal is to feminize intensely, which works because (outside of edgy fashion), there’s (still) such a thing as purely female mode of dress and makeup.

              It’s harder to reliably signal “male,” because there are so few items of male clothing that are not occasionally worn by women simply for comfort or style, without the intention of signaling gender. And plenty of women are naturally pretty flat, so binding (in itself) doesn’t say “presenting male,” either.

              I’ve noticed that “slouchy and schlubby” often registers “male,” and binders tend to de-slouch the spine and make people look more poised. So that may also play in (???).

      4. Threeve*

        I love working with doctors. No need to care about someone’s gender!

        If I have to reach out to Taylor, Morgan or Hikaru, I can’t use Ms. or Mr. if I’m not certain, so if they’re important enough that I have to maintain formality, I end up having to ask around or google them.

      5. bleh*

        This is me. I have told people, you can address me as Dr if you must use a title. Otherwise, plain old “bleh” will do. They get really mad. I once explained to a class at the beginning of the semester that Ms. is like Mr. because it doesn’t indicate marital status. They complained about it in the course evals at the end of the semester. Entrenched sexism indeed.

      6. NotMyRealName*

        There are a group of people in the scientific society that I belong to that are trying to get “prefixes” removed as a requirement. I am completely in favor of this.

      7. Artemesia*

        I never use Dr. socially or professionally EXCEPT in my career in the South where there were a fair number of men who would make an issue of Ms and smirk and ask if it were Miss or Mrs to suggest I was trying to hide the fact that I couldn’t catch or keep a man. To them it was ‘Dr.’. My husband was quite gracious when called by my name because he knew the custom was for the woman to change her name and so people were genuinely doing the sensible thing; we never were ugly to anyone who got it wrong in either direction THE FIRST TIME — repeat it and it is intentional.

        Ms. is one of my hot buttons. It is designed as an equivalent of Mr. and insisting on Miss or Mrs. is a way of dehumanizing women and ‘putting them in their place’ as property of men.

    4. Sir Lena Clare*

      I like being called Sir ;)
      But yes, seriously, Ms is my preferred mode of personal address for myself. I have only once had a man ask me “is that Miss or Mrs?” and once I replied “Ms” he did not broach the subject again.

      1. I can only speak Japanese*

        If I were Sir Alanna of Trebond, sure. But in modern business, this erasure of women bothers me.

      2. Applesauced*

        I just started Battlestar Galactica and I really like how they use Sir for leaders/officers regardless of gender.

        1. Zelda*

          Whereas I was incensed when the TV series Castle brought in a new captain for the police precinct, and she tore strips out of her officers for calling her Ma’am, on the grounds that Ma’am is not sufficiently respectful. Apparently, *only* Sir actually recognizes authority and professional status. Gross.

    5. Darned if you do*

      Here is the thing- and Ms. Is my standard when addressing women that I do not know which they prefer- it is absolutely a no win for guys. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been admonished for using Ms. Because the woman who was addressed was married and used Mrs. And to a lesser extent women who thought that I was calling them old and it is Miss.

      1. EBStarr*

        I mean, those women would probably admonish me (a woman) for calling them Ms. as well. I don’t think it’s a special misfortune for men — and at least those same women won’t insist on referring to *you* by a name that reduces you to your marital status…

        But if it bothers you you can ask first.

        Personally I live in the northern US and I don’t think I’ve had to address someone by Ms, Mr, or anything other than their first names since the first few times I met my southern in-laws…

          1. MsSolo*

            When I worked at a museum, if someone got offended by “what’s your preferred title?” (usually with a transphobic ‘how dare you be so politically correct’ vibe) the two tactics were either the more serious “you might be a doctor, and I wanted to respect that” or the lighter “personally, I like Your Majesty, but the computer doesn’t have an option for that”.

            1. Part Cheesy*

              If you’re asking men their preferred title, there’s always going to be a weird vibe. It’s just not done.

              1. HoHumDrum*

                But it should be done, and the weird vibe will go away once it becomes more standard, and the only way for it to become standard is for people just to do it.

                1. UKDancer*

                  Quite. I’ve one social acquaintance who is a baronet and his correct title is “Sir” and he always prefers when people ask his title so he can inform them of the correct one.

                  I think the more you do it and the more it becomes standard, the less it should be an awkward question.

      2. KayDay*

        You’re doing it right. I don’t know any women in my age bracket who would object to “Ms”. Times, they are a-changing, so yes there is a risk that some people won’t like it. But they are decreasing in number, while those who prefer “Ms” are increasing in number. The only time I would switch to “mrs” is in social settings with an older woman. In work settings I strictly use “ms” unless explicitly asked to use “mrs”.

      3. AP*

        I’m a native English speaker, but I have trouble getting the pronunciation right for “Ms.” Too often it comes out closer to Miss than to Miz. I 100% support honorifics that don’t indicate marital status, butI just wish they had chosen one that was more differentiated.

        1. blackcat*

          I taught high school in the south.
          Basically all Ms./Mrs/Miss came out similarly (Mz) sort of sound. But my students (correctly) wrote my name as Ms. Blackcat, as did 95+% of parents.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Even in New England, I feel like we kind of slurred them all into “Miz” in school!

            1. JSPA*

              I remember reading an old article (in Ms Magazine?) where Gloria Steinem (I think) said that the typographic “Ms.” followed the longstanding practice of people slurring Miss and Mrs. when they didn’t know which to use, which accounted for the (unusually quick) acceptance of the new / revived form.

          2. JustaTech*

            At my generally progressive, feminist-leaning all-girls school in the 90’s all the women teachers were called Mz (because it was easier and we didn’t get why it mattered), except one history teacher who was “Miss” and god help you if you didn’t pronounce every letter in Miss every single time you spoke to her.

            I don’t know if anyone ever got a good explanation of why that teacher was so specific about her title.
            The only other teacher who was picky about their title was a music teacher who only lasted one year who insisted we call him Doctor because he had a PhD in music. (He wasn’t a good teacher and we had zero respect for him, partly because of him harping on this to a bunch of 12 year olds.)

            1. sb51*

              …what the heck is with music teachers, haha. My also generally progressive, feminist-leaning all-girls school in the 90’s had a music teacher with the same preference and vehement defense of it, except he was a reasonably good teacher (and had been there forever, so def. not the same school/guy) so we just rolled our eyes and called him Dr.

      4. JSPA*

        Life doesn’t have a “no admonishment” zone for anyone.

        Being corrected, or even corrected with admonishment, isn’t some sort of challenge to your status or professionalism or sense of self. The idea that if people are fair, and you do the best thing possible, the result is “no correction or admonishment ever,” just doesn’t follow.

        You play the odds (or pick your preference), you take the feedback if it lands wrong, you smile, and you switch. Without rancor or shame or reactivity. Just as you would if someone wanted medium eggs, not extra large, or asked you to incorporate chartreuse rather than fuchsia in the letterhead.

      5. Nanani*

        “Some people are assholes working to support sexism” is not a reason not to fight sexism though.

    6. selena*

      If OP sees people from other cultures there might be translation issues. F.e. here in the Netherlands every woman is called a ‘mrs’ (mevrouw), and ‘miss’ (juffrouw) has dropped out of usage decades ago. So the married form /is/ the neutral form.

      ‘juffrouw’ and ‘meester’ (master) is only occasionally used to refer to schoolteachers.

      1. WickerBag*

        Same here in Germany. ‘Fräulein’ (lit. ‘little woman’) is rarely used these days. I don’t remember ever being addressed by that title. It’s always been either my first name or ‘Frau’ , even in my teens.

        1. WickerBag*

          That last sentence should have been “[…] my first name or ‘Frau’ last name […]”.

        2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          In our household, ‘Fräulein’ was and is a warning as in, Fräulein, what are you doing and is it maybe something you’re not supposed to do??? Nowadays used mainly on the pets.

      2. Belgian*

        I have one company that insists on calling me ‘mejuffrouw’. It drives me insane!

      3. Miso*

        Ha. I’m German and had a Dutch boyfriend. I had to explain him that you absolutely cannot call a woman “Fräulein” in German and he just would not believe me and go on about how his father learnt it differently, bla bla…

        Yeah, 40 years ago maybe!

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes quite. I did have to have that conversation with my father who grew up before they dropped Fraulein but once I explained that this was no longer an acceptable title to use, he stopped using it straight away.

          People don’t always know when words in another language change. I studied in Germany in the late 1990s and have occasionally amused my German work acquaintances with using some very outdated slang because my colloquial German hasn’t evolved hugely since. I also apparently still have the same accent I picked up there.

      4. Anna*

        I (a Dutchwoman) am so glad that the previous wave of Dutch feminists just claimed one existing title for all woman, regardless of married status, instead of the American choice of adding an extra option. They really solved that problem for us very neatly. Now the only entity still calling me mej. is the bank, which apparantly still thinks I’m eleven years old.

        Funny thing that happens when I buy plane tickets in Dutch: I get to choose between mevr and dhr, so of course, not being a man, I choose mevr, but then when the ticket arrives, in English, I have become a Mrs. I don’t mind really, it makes me laught a little, even though I would choose Ms every time if I was choosing in English.

        1. RoseDark*

          Dude, who knows about banks?? I am several years out of college now and I keep getting ads to “build your credit score while you’re in college” and “we know you’re worried about paying tuition during the plague” and “the perfect credit card for students”

          I don’t know how to make it clear that just because I’m in my 20s does not mean I am a student. I have a BA and I’m done, thank.

      5. JSPA*

        Complicated by “vrouw” meaning “woman.” (Though, same is true for “wife,” originally).

        Etymologically, me-vrouw is “my-woman” in the sense of, “my lady” (minus the class implications of “lady”) or “but, my good woman, you must agree…”

        It is only possessive when used in relation to a spouse, or by the spouse in question. Otherwise, so far as I know, it’s only “my” in the sense of, “person whom I speak with.”

        Compare the historical use of “goodman, goodwife, goodwoman” and the abbreviation, “goody.” It expressed respect, but without rank distinction (vs. Mistress / Master) or class distinction (Lord / Lady).

        If this is too off topic, my apologies, but it can be useful to know what’s been done and tried in the past (and what there’s precedent for). I don’t particularly fancy being called “Goody,” but if that’s the best model we have for “respectful, gender-neutral form of address,” I can get behind it, I suppose. At risk of being a “goody-two-shoes.”

        1. MissMapp*

          Not to nitpick-Goody was only used to address women. It was marital-status neutral, as were Mistress and Lady. All women’s forms of address were marital-status neutral in the 1600s and early 1700s. Women arguably lost status in the early Industrial age, and that’s when we see forms of address taking into account marital status. But Goody was always a women’s title.

    7. Constance Lloyd*

      Yes, please! Whenever we receive emails that open this way I am so very tempted to inform the sender they would have to follow the chain of command all the way up to company president to find even a single Sir.

    8. Ana Gram*

      My email signature lists my title- Detective. Despite that, most replies are to Mrs. Why?? Most people o email have never met me before the initial email and it’s super weird to assume something about my marital status and to ignore the title I provided. Plus, I do recruiting and hiring so they’re also ignoring my agency’s hierarchy.

      That said, I ignore it until we meet in person. Then, I introduce myself as Detective Gram and refer to other people by their title and hope it sinks in.

      Weirdly, I get this fairly equally from men and women but it seems to happen more with younger people. No idea why.

    9. Delta Delta*

      Attorney here. Have never addressed anything as “sirs” because what even is that.

      1. Quill*

        Dear Sir or Madam was drilled into us as email ettiquette way back in… god, 2008?

        But professionally I’ve never used it. If I had to address a formal email to your firm and didn’t know who would read it, it would be “To Whom it May Concern” and if it were a formal email to you, specifically, it would be “Dear Delta Delta”

        And if I emailed you every other week to order documents it would be, “Hi Delta”.

        Of course, the field I’m in now is international by necessity and it just removes all sorts of potential for miscommunication. Though it always amuses me when a specific one of my contacts signs off with “Salam, sweet lady.” (I’m pretty sure that this is neither patronizing nor sexist in intent, because it stemmed from me asking if I should inform my boss of any Eid related potential delays last year.)

        1. JSPA*

          Juliet Lowell’s “Dear Sir” book of letters was published in, looks like, 1944. The sequel, “Dear Sir or Madam” was published in 1946. As they were sent and collected before publication, “Dear Sir or Madam” has been in use for 75 years, and then some.

          (I remember them as being hilarious, though I’m sure some of them are by now dated or cringe-y).

      2. Don't Be Me*

        Once referred to a panel of arbitrators as “My dudes” in the salutation of a DRAFT email that I then, in a sleep deprived fog, sent.

        Do not recommend.

    10. Dasein9*

      I’m going to be lazy and presume most of the folks responding to this comment are cisgender. It’s heartening to see that cisgender folks chafe at being misgendered, too.

      Just wait until some people hear about Mx.! (Pronounced “mix” or “mux.”)

      1. Washi*

        I really, really wish Mx. were somehow already the default! On the one hand I want to use titles in the kind of context that OP describes, especially since there is a racist history of white people referring to black people just by first names but expecting a title in return. On the other hand, the gendered and married/unmarried distinctions of these titles feel pretty outdated at this point. Language matters and I want to show respect in how I address people, but it can be so tricky!

      2. Quill*

        I’d never heard that aloud before I listened to the Penumbra Podcast and heard a few thousand repetitions in Season 2 of “Mx Mayor.”

    11. cmcinnyc*

      I got a phone call once that really threw me for a loop: “Hello, XYZ Co, CMC speaking.” “Hi, is [your boss] married?” “What?” “Uh, just need to know if [your female boss] is married?” “Why the hell do you need to know that?” “Oh… uh… we’re sending a letter? and don’t know how to address her?” “Ms.” “Excuse me?” “The proper term of address is Ms. It’s spelled M s period. You don’t have any reason to pry into her personal life in order to write a letter. Good bye.” Hung up. 2o minutes later: “Uh, this is [lady calling from company in the South again], Ms., is it a New York thing?” “No.” Hung up. 25-minutes later: “Oh this is [me] and we’re gonna go ahead and use Ms. if you think that’s alright. Just, here, it would be rude.” “I also work for [male boss]. If you do business with us, you’ll deal with [female boss] and [male boss]. Did you plan to call me and ask if [male boss] is married?” “Well, no.” “That would be kind of bizarre, right?” “Well, yes. OK, yes. I get your point. I would feel strange if someone called and asked if my boss was married. I would wonder. See, it’s just that it’s a woman, so. But I do see how that is…OK. You have a blessed day now.”

    12. Mama Bear*

      I default to addressing people as Ms. for anyone who doesn’t specify. One of my kid’s teachers really preferred Mrs. so I use Mrs. for her and Ms. for everyone else. I use Ms. professionally myself – I want to be known for me, not for my marital status. I also find it very aggravating when dealing with customer service if they think that Mrs. means I have no say in my household or they try to default to my spouse. The only person who ever addressed me as Mrs. HisName LastName was my grandmother (which I wasn’t offended by because it was my grandma).

    13. Nanani*

      Oh the number I’ve times I’ve seen “Dear Sirs” when every single person associated with that case was a woman. Me, the attorney, their assistant, the contacts in other depts,, all women. But still “dear sirs.”

      The sexism is a constant stream of shit but it’s worth fighting.

    14. Elisabeth*

      I have to admit I actually prefer Miss, but that’s mostly because I like the ‘sss’ sound over the ‘zzz’ sound. (Also why I always actually pronounce the ‘s’ in my name as an ‘s’, not a ‘z’, even though most people don’t notice.)

      I would never have a problem with someone using Ms, though.

  3. Stephen!*

    #5, I feel for you. I keep getting sporadic calls about a temp position with a certain company 5 years after I left that state. Even when I worked for that company, I still got calls about that temp position. I’ve moved into an acceptance stage where I can see the humor in it. Maybe start a betting pool on when the next call will be?

    1. AnonyNurse*

      I’ve been contacted many times by internal recruiters for a national company I used to work for. I was a member of a very successful class action lawsuit against said company for multiple and systemic FLSA violations. It’s baffling. I don’t want to work for them. They don’t want me to work for them again!

      1. Krabby*

        Honestly, some people just don’t get it. My last company got into a very contentious legal battle with a recruiting website (think ZipRecruiter or Hired.com), that buried some fine print when creating a demo account for one of our hiring managers. I won’t go into the details, but they contacted us once a month for two years after that asking us if we wanted to use their services. I finally had to email them back saying we would go after them for harassment if they contacted us again, and they still continued.

        Once you’re on that mailing list…

    2. Not Rebee*

      I keep getting LinkedIn messages from internal recruiters (but different ones every time) for a position with a company in an industry I no longer work in and for a department I also no longer work in. I even interviewed for that role and that position TWICE while I was still with Department A and it fit my qualifications and salary range – the first time the hiring manager was so offputting and made it clear they only wanted dirt on Old Company, and the second I only took the interview to see if that HM had left the company (he had not). They offered me the job the 2nd time and the offer was not good enough for me to leave Old Company, even though I’d been in a 3 year passive job search. I am grateful to have dodged that one and taken the offer at Less Old Company that allowed me to jump a few salary bands, get into a department I had been trying to steer into for 4 years, and that eventually got me to where I am today (making about double than I was at Old Job, 3 years later, in a related but different industry with cool people, with a Sr. in front of my title). I got another message from Won’t Get the Hint Company as recently as last year.

  4. PMK*

    As a teacher, I implore OP1 to not wear the collar. Kids are eagle-eyed. Even if you teach younger kids, an older sibling might notice. If you would not wear/do it at work do not do it on camera where it can be screen captured.

    1. De Pizan*

      There was an AITA on Reddit, where a new teacher’s webcam fell during her lesson with the kids and her bed, which had been out of sight, became visible. One kid spied a sex toy on the bed in that time, and told the entire class.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Yet another reason why it’s a bad idea to video chat in your bedroom.
        But if you have no other option, then you put everything discreetly away, even if it’s out of the camera’s view. It’s amazing what can be reflected in a window or the glass of a framed photo.

        1. Alli525*

          Yep. I work from my couch these days – nothing incriminating visible – but I have a blanket that I drape over the random detritus next to me (TV remotes, notepads, granola bar wrappers, vape pen, etc.) during Zoom meetings. My home is much more personal than my office, and I’m pretty open and social with my coworkers, but they don’t need to see every aspect of my home life.

      2. Bridget the Elephant*

        There are so many safeguarding issues there – I run a Guide Unit and we’ve been advised not to hold virtual meetings from bedrooms if at all possible and to advise the Guides not to be in their bedrooms during the meetings either. We’re also expected to make sure an appropriate adult is in the room with them. Schools might not be doing that (though they’s a case to be made that they should for Child Protection), but if they did then there’s also a fair chance that a pupil’s parent might spot the collar.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          From a practical standpoint, if you have a family with multiple people trying to attend multiple classes/jobs/doctor’s appointments at the same time, you’re going to end up with people taking meetings in weird rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms and garages for quiet.

          I agree that it’s a fraught situation having minors Zooming a teacher from their bedroom, or a teacher Zooming a student from a cluttered basement, where there’s all sorts of potential for not-appropriate-for-the-current-audience stuff popping into frame, but these aren’t exactly normal times either. It’s not like anyone could have prepared for this.

          1. Graduated Student*

            Yeah, I taught all my high school classes the last few months from my bedroom. I live with roommates, and literally the only rooms in our house with doors that close are bedrooms, bathrooms, and the unlit & unfinished basement. It seemed more reasonable to just Zoom from my bedroom and make sure nothing untoward was in frame than to ask my roommates to shut themselves in their rooms for a few hours a day or find some other quiet space in a different building during a pandemic.

    2. JerryTerryLarryGary*

      So incredibly inappropriate. I would very much question the judgment of my child’s teacher if I saw them wearing this while teaching.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Same, and I have friends who are into that particular thing. But they recognize that aspect of their relationship stays private, or at least truly subtle. One guy I know, his wife picks out and ties his tie on him every morning, in lieu of the collar. The girls tend to wear necklaces, and fairly normal ones at that.

    3. Kiki*

      I am still a bit perplexed as to why the LW thinks this is something that would differ on video calls vs. IRL. Like, people can still see it? Cameras are pretty good nowadays and the linked example is pretty distinctly a collar.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it’s the seeing yourself as a tiny square, not realizing others have a different view.

        1. Kiki*

          Ah, that could definitely be it. Especially since as a teacher, LW probably normally sees a sea of tiny squares and isn’t taking into account that her students probably have things set up to so teacher occupies most of their screens.

        2. pancakes*

          It seems unlikely to me that this person has never been on the other end of video call themselves (e.g., with school administrators), and more likely that spending time intensely immersed in a subculture has atrophied the observational abilities and other skills they might use to communicate with people outside of it. I don’t think that’s unique to the BDSM world; people in other subcultures often seem to lose or jettison their ability to communicate with normies.

      2. Bella*

        I assumed it has more to do with a lack of movement & adjusting so that it’s always under the collar/sweater whatever. Like when I’m sitting on my chair I’m generally more controlled in my movements than if I was walking around a classroom.

        I think this is fair, but still a HUGE risk and honestly a distraction because the teacher is probably checking her appearance constantly anyway to make sure it’s not revealed.

    4. It's All Elementary*

      As someone who works in elementary education, the fact that OP has to even ask that question would send up a red flag about their overall capability to make appropriate decisions in an educational setting. I make no judgement about their social life, but they know it’s unacceptable in the classroom in front of students so why would they think it’s ok in the home while doing the same job?

      1. MidwestTeacher*

        I teach high school and thought the same thing. Kids notice EVERYTHING. There’s no way someone won’t notice a collar, and that’s just a part of your life they shouldn’t know about. It really concerns me that the OP thought this might be ok

      2. Observer*

        So much this. This could be the logo of the opposing sports team, and it would still be utterly insane to assume that no one would notice.

    5. Likethecity*

      Agree! Also, if the picture is a true representation of what the OP wears, I’m surprised a student hasn’t figured out yet. (Although, as someone else pointed out, a student probably has.) If I wore something like the picture, I have no doubt that one of my younger elementary ages students would notice immediately and ask why I was wearing my dog’s collar.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And demand to know why the dog wasn’t on the call, while other students excitedly exchanged the news of Ms Smith has a dog! and their parents wander over saying, “Oh, that’s nice. Ms Smith has a dog? What kind? Is he on the call?”

        1. Quill*

          When my mom taught an orienteering course for one of her after school clubs I always had to come as a chaperone… for the dog. Because otherwise the children would pay zero attention. (Our dog was nominally part of the afternoon course. He doubled as a bribe for attendance and instruction, when necessary, on interacting calmly with animals while out in the world.)

    6. S*

      I may have missed it if somebody else said the same thing but OP1, I’m noticing people’s necklaces and earrings much *more* on zoom than I would in real life. In person you can see the whole person, and in a classroom there are a lot of things going on and a lot of other people around. On zoom, I’m just looking at the speaker’s head and neck and often I have zoom set so that the current speaker appears large on my computer. I don’t think that zoom obscures jewelry at all.

      I don’t think that teachers should face anywhere near the level of scrutiny that they do. However, I think zoom does not obscure things as much as you think it does.

      1. juliebulie*

        Now that you mention it, you’re correct. It’s not polite to stare in person, but you can’t really tell what people are looking/staring at on their screen. You can’t even be sure exactly where YOU are on their screen. Which means their posture of apparently rapt attention could just be them staring at a stray eyebrow hair on your face or something.

    7. Sleepless*

      Kids are definitely eagle eyed! When my husband was in high school, one of his teachers once wore a white blouse with a red swirly pattern all over it. By mid-morning the kids had figured out that it was cursive writing and “oh shit” was scrawled up one sleeve. The teacher had bought it and not even noticed. (And yes, I have googled that shirt many times to see if one is still out there somewhere. Unfortunately if you google “oh shit blouse” all you get is links to some really terrible soft porn short stories.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        I made some D&D dice earrings for a teacher friend (who is upfront about her nerdy hobbies), which her kids excitedly identified first time in an online class. They’re tiny, and kind of blobby, and poorly-painted. But yet they know it’s a d4 or a d6 through a blurry bad-internet video. Kids have +10 to perception checks, I swear.

  5. Former Computer Professional*

    #5 Back when Google was hiring everyone they could, I would get shopped by a different recruiter every other week, for the same dang job type. As it was Google, they were hiring tons of people for that position in various places. But, I wasn’t qualified; they wanted one particular skill set I did not have.

    Ironically, one day I met a hiring manager who said, “I run a smaller group at Google that has a different version of that job which doesn’t require [that skill]. Give me your resume and I’ll bring you in for an interview.”

    and then a month later, before the interview could be finalized, they quit and went to another company. Ah, well.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Bullet dodged, IMO.

      I’ve phone screened with Google at least five times. Every one way some younger male trying to prove just how much smarter than me he thought he was. Trick questions, trivia out of college textbooks, ambiguous instructions, etc. I now seldom respond back – I’m not so enamored with google that I will submit to gaslighting and humiliation because I’m not a 20-something RCG.

  6. The Tenth Doctor*

    I cannot believe that #1 is even a question that has to be asked. This is so wholly inappropriate I can’t even wrap my head around it. At some jobs (clubs that serve a certain clientele, adult shops etc) no one would bat an eye but honestly I question the judgement of anyone who even has to ask if that is all right. If I had a child and saw their teacher with a collar on during school (to be clear I mean at work and not on their own time) I would have serious concerns and would be speaking with the administration. I apologise if this seems like I am shaming. It is not my intention as I don’t care what anyone does in their private lives but at the workplace, teaching children. That’s a hard no.

    1. MK*

      The broader issue I see here is the “working from home has different rules” attitude on the OP’s part. It really, really doesn’t in an issue like this; and I would argue that if people want work from home to become more widespread, they should let go of the idea that you can get away with things that wouldn’t fly in the physical workplace, as it reinforces employers’ prejudice against it.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Agreed. You can loosen up a little. Polo shirts instead of button-downs, maybe even a t-shirt if it’s not inappropriate. Fine. Minimal makeup and hair fussing, whatever. So long as you still look professional, even if it’s laid back, no one really cares.
        But no, you don’t video conference in a camisole and daisy dukes. Nor in a t-shirt with a distracting design (or worse, a vulgar one). Nor in a dominance collar. Nor in your bathrobe.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Agreed. Lots of polos or plain tshirts in my child’s classes but no camisoles, tank tops or anything I wouldn’t expect them to wear in the actual classroom. They also carefully choose their background/location, too.

      2. just a random teacher*

        I mean, you can dress/behave in lots of ways that wouldn’t fly while working from home, just not the parts of working from home that involve video calls. Grade in your pajamas! Plan lessons in a pirate costume! Write emails to parents while swearing out loud and rolling your eyes! Brush and floss your teeth while sitting through prerecorded training videos! Just, you know, not when your students or parents could see you doing it.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The times I worked from home in the past I still wore a suit (had to wear a suit every day in the office. I’ve got 18 of them now) because it helped create a clear boundary in my head between’home’ and ‘work’ that I found a lot harder in the house.

        Separating work and home life is one of the most common complaints regarding workplace stress. If you behave at home like you would in the workplace whilst on the clock it can provide a clearer sense of when one finishes and the other begins. In my case it was when the laptop went off, the suit came off, the pyjamas went on and I booted up my home computer to go blat demons.

        1. andy*

          Ok, but wearing suits while working from home is not mainstream behavior. Even ignoring that majority of us dont wear suits on the job, pretty much everyone I know wears whatever is comfortable when working from home and dont follow the norms of workplace.

      4. BethDH*

        Yeah, there are some things that are looser because working from home now is not a choice, but those need to be things that are necessary in the situation, like video chats from your bedroom because there’s really nowhere else quiet.
        I’ve seen a new dress code emerge where I am that is pretty much equivalent to the most casual we have in the office (Summer Fridays) but it’s still noticeably a different level than when I’ve seen coworkers around town on the weekends.

    2. LGC*

      I think that’s a bit harsh. (I have other thoughts, but I’ll spare them.)

      I think the biggest issue with LW1 is that according to them, it’s…a dog collar (that is, it resembles one). I think it’d be more okay if it didn’t look so much like a dog collar (and more like a standard choker or a small chain). As it is, it’s just VERY obvious.

    3. Tallulah in the Sky*

      To be clear : the issue is not that she’s wearing a collar, but that the design is BDSM-looking enough that many people will speculate (rightly) about it. Advertising particular bedroom activities, to students no less, is not okay. And you betting on bad webcam resolution is quite naive.

      We’ve had a similar-ish question here in the past, but where the collar doesn’t look like a traditional collar at all, it was a necklace OP would be wearing all the time and was worried people would notice that she’s wearing a piece of jewelry every day. If it looks like a necklace anyone would wear, it’s no big deal. I have a friend who wears one that looks just like that, all the time, with a matching bracelet and ring, and it has never been an issue. If anyone asks she just says it’s a gift from her husband (which is true) and she loves wearing them (also true). I myself used to wear two bracelets for every day wear, we bought them at a traditional jeweler.

      If I saw a teacher wear a necklace with a traditional BDSM design, I would worry too. OP, if you want to always wear something that has the meaning of a collar (and I totally understand you wanting to), there exists every day designs for that purpose.

  7. Martha Marcy May Marlene*

    Regarding the first question: Is the OP seriously asking if it is okay to involve others, including minors under their supervision, in OP’s sex life without their consent? My eyes bugged out of my head when I read this.

      1. Sara(h)*

        I agree with Martha M that OP1 is involving students in her sex life without their consent, in a slight but still very inappropriate way. My eyes didn’t bug out, and IMO that’s an overreaction, but I agree with the basic premise of M’s comment.
        That said, I don’t believe this was OP’s intention, although she is making a poor judgment call in thinking it’s-okay-because-it’s-on-video-so-maybe-they-won’t-notice. But at least she questioned it enough to write in and ask! And presumably that is because she’s going to follow Alison’s advice! So I think there is probably no harm done, and if anything others might see this letter and realize that certain boundaries (most of them) still apply, even if you’re at home on video. So maybe the letter will have a net positive effect!

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m very glad that OP wrote in because that shows that she’s feeling at least a little bit of doubt about this decision she’s made up til now.

          And OP, I want to reiterate what others have said: Kink stuff is rarely as unrecognisable as one might think if one has been entrenched in the lifestyle for some time, and the collar you’ve linked to, even if it isn’t exactly what you own, is actually very obviously not just some kind of fashion statement (and if people thought of it as such, it probably wouldn’t be in a favourable way, either – more in the direction of “When has ‘I wear what my dog wears’ become a fashion trend?”). And also, depending on how old your students are, they might actually realise what it is, not just find it weird or anything – I’ve been involved with kink since I was about 16 or 17 and I would’ve 100% recognised something like this on a teacher.

          I also want to caution against becoming too comfortable with the thought that “working as a teacher physically at school” and “working as a teacher physically at home” are entirely different spheres. I mention that because you say “I’m a teacher and have to look respectable so I never wear it to school.” and I really think that attitude should be broadened towards when you’re teaching from home, too – call it “teacher mode”, if you want to, and leave all kink at the doorstep when you’re in teacher mode.

          1. Puss in Kinky Boots*

            I definitely agree that older kids are very likely to be able to recognize a kink collar, considering a) kids’ natural curiosity about all the stuff they’re not “supposed” to know about, b) the Internet, and their access to it, c) the mainstreaming of kink (eg, 50 Shades), and d) the existence of older siblings.

            If I discovered it early in high school as a pretty sheltered only child years before we all had internet on every device possible…

            While I firmly believe that teachers have a right to a private life (and that they shouldn’t be punished when that private life comes out by accident or as a result of someone digging into their lives), they should really avoid broadcasting intimate information to students like this.

            1. A*

              I strongly caution against the assumption that it would be ‘older kids’ that might be in the know. This is a whole different world than that of generations with analogue up bringings. I’m sure there are kids that aren’t aware (and certainly don’t understand the nuances) and I certainly wouldn’t make a blanket statement, but I suspect it’s a pretty solid percentage of school aged kids that have some level of exposure to this kinds of thing. Heck, my first exposure was in 1st grade when doing a paper on the White House and made the mistake of typing in the url with ‘.com’ at the end instead of ‘.gov’ (no clue now, but in the 90s it was a romantically graphic site – choosing my words carefully as I’m on a work comp). And that was before internet usage became as commonplace as it is now.

          2. Important Moi*

            It reminds me of smokers who insist no one knows they smoke because
            -wash clothes
            -use mouthwash
            -use of air freshener, etc.

          3. Quill*

            I was pretty sheltered but by high school? All that knowledge has flown the coop. In middle school, all it takes is ONE child to know, the whole class will.

            In elementary, younger kids will be more likely to just ask about anything they find strange, older students will twig to the idea that SOMETHING is going on, and all snicker knowingly even if none of them could actually name why they’re snickering.

      2. ceiswyn*

        I agree that wearing the collar is a bad move, but it’s not ‘involving’ someone in OP’s sex life any more than someone wearing a wedding ring is ‘involving’ everyone else in their marriage.

        1. Gaia*

          Disagree. A wedding ring tells me nothing about your relationship other than you filed forms with the government. A collar gives me intimate insight into your relationship I don’t want. This isn’t any different than the LW that asked if she could refer to her partner as “master” at work. Hard no.

        2. Alice's Rabbit*

          Those two items are not equivalent, and any Dom or sub would be insulted by the comparison. A ring tells us only that a person is unavailable for a relationship. We know nothing about their bedroom activities, other than we’d never be invited, because they are exclusive. For all we know, they could be asexual. Plenty of people who don’t want sex still enjoy the companionship of marriage.
          A collar, on the other hand, tells us specific details about the individual’s sex life and preferences. Details we don’t need. Details it is completely inappropriate for children to know.

      3. Batgirl*

        Because the statement is about their romantic and sexual dynamic. Kids are way more interested in adult and sexual relationships than in anything else so it’s not something they can easily apply a mental filter to, like many adults. Kids also categorise you in a sexless way, a bit like a relative so it will gross them out. It will totally derail the teaching and possibly your career. As a teacher you play a part.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          This^ If a good old southern grandma would have palpitations, a school teacher shouldn’t wear it. Save it for the club, or when you’re strictly alone or with your Dom. Never at work, even via zoom.

      4. Confused*

        Disclosing something about your sex life, even in a subtle way, goes against people’s consent if it’s not something they asked about.

    1. KeinName*

      I agree – it makes children into an audience. They serve as the public which allows the OP to wear something that presumably has some erotic connotation *in public*.
      Why can it not be covered by a scarf, if it serves only as a reminder of her status to the OP? Why dös it need to be on display?

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Agreed. If she really doesn’t want to take it off, then a securely fastened, fashionable scarf is the way to go. But no, her students should never see the collar.

    2. Casper Lives*

      Yeah I don’t understand things like this. A dog collar (as in a collar for a dog) is sooo noticeable. In every context. It’s a straight up leather collar! That OP thinks isn’t visible over chat (only if your webcam is from 15 years ago) so it’s fine to display a sexual kink in front of children. What?

    3. Log Lady*

      Thank you, I was waiting for someone to comment on the fact that OP1 is involving children in their sex life. It is absolutely disturbing. Even if they were other adults, it would still be inappropriate because these are all non-consenting people. How on Earth would this be an okay thing to do in any work capacity, let alone when children are involved?

    4. Anonymous at a University*

      +1 This doesn’t sound like it’s a permanent collar that OP wears all the time and she has firm boundaries between her relationship and work when she’s teaching in the physical classroom. The idea that the collar *has* to be on the minute she’s on video is…weird. “It’s a fun relationship” doesn’t mean that you need to involve other people in the relationship or the “fun” parts of it. And since the collar isn’t discreet at all, she’s not wearing something important to her that will fly under the radar. It’s like, “I want to make an announcement, but no one will really notice it and therefore I can do what I want.” No, you can’t.

  8. NorseMermaid*

    For letter number 5, I just had an image of an old movie poster…
    “The return of the terrifying, unstoppable, immortal PHANTOM POSITION!”

    1. juliebulie*

      Hey, I actually got hired for a phantom position. It was a contract job on a long (long, long, way over budget, way behind schedule) project. They needed three people and they would keep renewing contracts, but it was a super shitty place to work and a shockingly poorly managed project, so there was a lot of turnover. It was practically inevitable that I would end up doing some time there. Everybody in my field does.

      Eventually (after I left) the project was finally completed. Amazingly, there was no mushroom cloud.

      But my point is, when you notice one of these positions, it’s probably a good idea to avoid them unless you are on the threshold of destitution.

  9. Bowserkitty*

    And for the record, since some people still don’t understand: Ms. reveals nothing about marital status and that’s the point. It doesn’t indicate you’re divorced or a harlot or anything other than that you identify as female. It’s the female equivalent of Mr., nothing more and nothing less; it allows women the same ability that men have always had — to be identified without their marital status being a defining characteristic.

    Thank you for explaining this! Even as a native speaker I have to admit I did not know this. When I was younger, I was often told it’s the term for single women. Wow, I learned something cool today. Thank you Alison!

    1. RB*

      How odd you were told that. Back in those days Miss was the term for single women so I’m not sure why someone told you Ms was that term. Then Ms came along and replaced Miss/Mrs and became the all-encompassing way to address women. It’s nobody’s business if they’re married or single and now you don’t need to put any mental energy into wondering which status they are.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        I was taught miss is for minors, ms. is for young/unmarried women. Maybe because I grew up in moderately conservative midwest USA??? Noooo idea, when I look back on it!

        1. BeeBoo*

          I was taught this same thing in a liberal west coast city growing up. I think it’s something that’s changed with the times and by college (15 years ago) we were taught Ms. is all encompassing

          1. New poster*

            Fun fact: Ms. originated in the early 1900s specifically as a way to refer to women without identifying their marital status, and was revived in the 1960s/70s with the same intention :)

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Hunh. The rule I grew up with (US South, 70s/80s) was use how they were introduced first; if the introduction didn’t include the honorific, use Ms. (as universally polite) until they asked you to use something else. But my parents are feminist activists, so we may have been out of step.

        2. White Peonies*

          Same here I grew up in Virginia, and until today have always been told Ms. is for adult unmarried women, and Miss is for minors.

        3. Amanda*

          This is how I learned too, though english is a second language for me. As far as I know, this is still how it’s taught in my country.

        4. Indoor Cat*

          +1 Same.

          Maybe I was told by someone who didn’t know the meaning and guessed based on context clues?

          I can’t recall hearing anyone around here called “Miss____,” or introducing themselves that way.

          That said, I’m glad I know now!

      2. LizM*

        I was taught that too. That technically Mrs. was for married women and Miss was for unmarried women, but that middle aged or older single women used Ms. because Miss read as too young.

        That said, I’ve used Ms. since entering the workplace, even though I’ve been married most of that time.

      3. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        English is not my native language and this has confused me for years whenever I’ve encountered this discussion so here goes: what are the pronunciation differences between Ms/Miss/Mrs? Wouldn’t Ms and Miss be pronounced the same way?

        1. Willow*

          No, Ms is pronounced like “Miz,” so it sounds different than “Miss”—you can probably google the pronunciation to hear it if that doesn’t make it clear.

        2. David S.*

          I’m a native English speaker and I personally cannot differentiate between the three orally. They all sound very similar and I can even think of a few times when someone has said they used the wrong one for someone else I could not hear the difference in the correction.

          1. PhyllisB*

            In the South, it’s really hard to tell the difference!! People slur all three. I’m a Mrs., but I don’t mind Ms. and have used it in business correspondence. The church kids call me Miss (or Mrs.) Phyllis.
            What drives me crazy is to get correspondence addressed to Ms. Husband’s First Name B. I guess it’s someone trying to be progressive, but I’m like NO!!!!!!!!!!! If you’re going to use the formal address, do it right!!

            1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

              I didn’t grow up in the South, but my Mom did, and I can actually tell the difference in pronunciation between all three!

              With “Miss”, the last consonant sound is “S”, and the air goes kinda down out of your mouth, like you’re hissing.

              With “Ms”, the last consonant sound is “Z”, and the air goes kind forward/up out of your mouth, like you’re buzzing (like a bee).

              “Mrs” is two syllables, although sometimes the vowel in the second syllable gets dropped, so you get sort of a pause between two “S”s.

              And then there’s “Miz”, which I think is at least partially a regional pronunciation. Like PhyllisB’s church kids, it’s used with a woman’s first name, usually by children. It’s for situations where children are expected to address adults with an honorific, but casual enough that all the adults are using first names. My mom always used it at church when she worked with kids, because our last name is really hard to pronounce if you’re missing a couple of teeth. It’s pronounced like “Ms” with a “Z” at the end, but you drag the vowel out longer.

              1. alienor*

                Yes to this. My grandma was Mrs Grandpa’s Firstname Lastname on formal invitations, Ms Firstname Lastname in professional situations, and Maggie when with family, but she was always Miz Margaret to her Sunday school kids.

          2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            It’s the same distinction as between “his” and “hiss.”

            That’s such an obvious distinction in my dialect (northeast US, specifically New York City) that I am wondering where people who can’t hear it live. As in, are we the weird ones for distinguishing that, the way a lot of people can’t hear a difference between Mary, marry, and merry?

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              US SE does have occasional lapses between the three, especially between Miss, Ms and Miz, though Daughter of Ada and Grace’s descriptions are the norm.

            2. David S.*

              I’m from NYC also. Lived here my whole life. I think it has to do with people not enunciating fully and not being fully aware of the differences in meaning of the words. Even now my mental picture of someone who wants to be called Mrs. is an old woman who is very stuck up and fully identifies as being part of her husband.
              In writing I’ll always use Ms. unless instructed otherwise. Verbally I intend to use Ms. but I honestly don’t know how it really comes out.

          3. A*

            one of the many, many reasons I always default to Ms. if I don’t know (or better yet, use the names and skip the formality) or couldn’t distinguish orally.

            Although once I did have someone get offended that I called her Ms. instead of Mrs., but her reasoning was super backwards (‘wouldn’t want someone to think I’m a spinster!’ etc.) so I just shrugged it off. So glad you went to school to get your ‘Mrs.’, however I for one do not recognize that as an ‘accomplishment’, ok Ms.?

        3. KayDay*

          I think speakers of some languages may not be able to tell the difference (at least a Swiss-German speaker i know can’t). If the way Americans pronounce the letters “c” and “z” sounds the same to you, you might fall in this category. Don’t stress though, they sound similar, so as long as you get it correct in writing it’s fine. (Honestly I rarely actually say “Miss” or “Ms” when talking).
          (Not sure if you need help with “Mrs”, but just in case, Mrs is pronounced “mis-suz”; if you’re wondering where the ‘r’ comes from, just remember that we use “lb” as the abbreviation for “pound” and don’t worry about it.)

          1. EPLawyer*

            MistReSs in the old meaning of the word — a married woman. Pronounced Miss-us.
            Ms = mizz
            Miss = miss

            I prefer Ms. but my clients run the gamut economically and culturally. So I let it go. Even in client meetings some insist on an honorific so I am Miss EP or Mrs. EP (which is really not correct but whatever).

            Only time I objected was an older male attorney kept calling me Mrs. looooong before I got married in court on the record. He knew better. He was just being sexist. “oh this little lady who should be home in the kitchen instead of arguing hear in court.” I cut him off — on the record.

          2. Clisby*

            In many parts of the south, Mrs. is not pronounced “mis-suz” – it’s more like “miz-uzz”. Interestingly, where I grew up (coastal SC), the pronunciation of “Mrs.” was indistinguishable from “Ms.” because people tended to drop the 2nd syllable – at least when using a name in conversation. For example, if I’m referring to my neighbor, the way I would pronounce “Mrs. Jones” is exactly the way I’d pronounce “Ms. Jones.” If I’m reading my children the Beatrix Potter story about Mrs. Tiggywinkle, I’d pronounce it “Miz-uzz’ Tiggywinkle.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Yeah, I’ve totally heard that second syllable get a little ‘swallowed’ (de-emphasized? not sure the exact term) down east in my state too.

        4. SarahTheEntwife*

          “Ms” is pronounced like the first syllable in “misery”; “miss” is like the first syllable in “mystery”.

        5. NerdyPrettyThings*

          Here in the deep South, our dialect pronounces all 3 of them the same (like “miss”). My first thought was that if OP is getting a lot of spoken “missus,” it’s likely they are doing it on purpose to annoy the outspoken feminist. Then I realized there may be other regions where they don’t all sound the same.

        6. Roz*

          Miss has a hard S sounds at the end while Ms has a hard Z sound as the end. Mrs is pronounced Misses.

          So Miss, Miz and Misses.

        7. MsSolo*

          In British English, Ms is more of a Muzz sound compared to Miss, if that helps distinguish it? I think most Americans would recognise Muzz as Ms rather than Miss.

          1. Aitch Arr*

            It took me longer than I care to admit that what I heard on British murder mystery shows was not “mum” but “ma’am.”

        8. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          Thanks to everyone who answered this!! The misery vs mystery explanation was the one which finally made it make sense to me. I also think it’s really interesting that some people said they’re from the South and don’t really have a difference – my English pronunciation/accent mainly comes from a year spent in Georgia, which might explain at least part of my confusion.

      4. Kiki*

        From talking to friends, this is a very common thing to have been taught “wrong” or not really taught at all. I was never really taught the distinction, but I grew up in a small, conservative town so most adult women I interacted with were married and went by Mrs. so I (incorrectly) assumed Ms. must be the alternative for the unmarried.
        Now as an adult, I very rarely encounter a situation where I address people as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

        1. Kiki*

          Now that I know the meaning, I do think it’s very odd we don’t societally default to Ms. for women? Why should third parties be keeping track of your marital status at all?

          1. Kimmybear*

            That really depends where you are. I only know one person that uses Mrs. and it seems very odd. Everyone else uses Ms. and that is the default. (This is in the DC area for context.)

            1. Kiki*

              I really can’t remember the last time I addressed someone as Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss/Mx. or the last time someone used Miss or Ms. to address me. Maybe when I first met my boyfriend’s parents? Maybe it’s a combination of working in a pretty casual industry in a casual city, but I feel like most business is conducted on a first-name basis here. My thinking is that in my area, the most common issue someone would have using the correct title is because they’re unused to using them at all.

          2. No Longer Working*

            I agree, Ms should be the default by now.

            What I detest, and I haven’t seen it in the comments yet, are businesses addressing me (and I assume every female) on the phone as “Mrs”.

            They assume every woman dealing with a home repair, or utility, or anything related to a house/home MUST be a married woman. Hello? What year is it? Single women own homes.

      5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I definitely learned this, too (and that Ms is for divorced women). It’s only in the last few years that I’ve heard that Ms is a generic title.

        Title confusion has resulted in a bit of a mess for me in that I first had “Miss” on all my British accounts etc, then I got married and thought it should be Mrs even though I didn’t change my name, and finally I tried to get them all changed to Dr but it wasn’t propagated through all of the systems so my credit card says Dr while my debit card says Miss and my statements say Mrs. It would have been better if I’d used Ms all along but it didn’t occur to me 15 years ago.

      6. Asenath*

        It’s interesting to read about the regional differences – and probably, age differences. I grew up with ‘Miss’ for all unmarried females of whatever age (although young girls, like young boys, usually weren’t addressed with a title at all), and “Mrs” for married women. When “Ms” came in, it was definitely used for all females who wanted to adopt it, although again, very young people usually used no title. I switched to “Ms”, but wasn’t dogmatic about it. One of the banks I dealt with back then still lists me as “Miss” and I never bothered to change it. I did know one woman (unmarried) during the changeover period who seemed to think that “Mrs” was some kind of title of honour only for married women (which historically it wasn’t) and it was really offensive if an unmarried woman was addressed as “Mrs.”. As close as I could figure out, she felt it was like taking a title you weren’t, um, entitled to. It never bothered me to be addressed as “Mrs” if I wasn’t married or if I preferred “Ms”. It still doesn’t. If it did, I’d change my records with that bank. When someone calls me “Mrs”, I don’t even notice, but I don’t think it happens often any more, except maybe in the very informal usage – say, some stranger in the street calls out “Hey, Missus!! I think you dropped something.”.

      7. Alli525*

        I don’t think it’s odd at all. I’m 34, white, and raised middle class in the Midwest and South by conservative/religious parents; I was taught that “Ms” was only for divorced women and radical feminists (both of which, of course, should be regarded with great suspicion (/s)). I was always to use “Miss” or “Mrs,” although how to distinguish the difference was less clear — age or presence of a wedding band, I suppose.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Usually, how you would know was the introduction, like “Hello, I am Mrs. Jones, your teacher”. The rules I got from my radical feminist parents were:
          – Use the title / address from the introduction.
          – If there’s no title, use Mr. / Ms.
          – If they answer back with a change (eg, ‘Mrs Jones’ or ‘Jane’), switch to that.

    2. CastIrony*

      How about Miss?

      Sometimes, I want to be referred to as Mx. because it makes more sense to me with Alison’s explanation.

      1. just a random teacher*

        I’ve seriously considered going by Mx. at work to try and decenter my gender from my title and position, but am worried it’d seen as appropriative since I’d want to use it to communicate “my gender is not relevant at this time” rather than “I have a gender not best represented by Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss.”

        1. RoseDark*

          This non-cis person gives you (and everyone) totally unnecessary permission to go by whatever prefix will make you happy. Genderless stuff belongs to everyone for any reason. Not wanting to be gendered irrelevantly is valid, not appropriative.

      2. caps22*

        I would love to have a genderless honorific, but I never knew how to pronounce Mx. Is it “Mix”?

          1. Perpal*

            Sounds too close to ms/miss and not at all like mr, IDK, that would probably confuse the heck out of most people who aren’t familiar with it. It works pretty well in written form though!

      3. RoseDark*

        I’d love to use Mx because I’m genderfluid and it’s exhausting. Unfortunately no drop-down list has that as an option and no one can pronounce it.

        I got a wedding invitation from a good friend addressed to Ms RoseDark and got.. sad. It made me sad.

    3. HBJ*

      Fwiw, it’s only been in the last four or five years that I was told Ms. is intended to stand alone and not meant as an abbreviation for unmarried.

      It makes sense. Mrs. is an abbreviation of Mistress. Mr. is an abbreviation of Mister. Although less commonly used, Mstr. is an abbreviation for Master. Why wouldn’t Ms. be the abbreviation for Miss? That is how I always thought of it up until fairly recently.

      1. only acting normal*

        Miss is also an abbreviation of Mistress. As is Ms. And none of them originally had anything to do with marital status specifically.
        Mistress, however abbreviated, just denoted higher professional or social status than someone without any title at all.
        The whole married/unmarried thing is surprisingly recent.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Doesn’t that depend on how you define “recent,” though? As a Jane Austen fan, I can state pretty confidently that the use of “Miss” to mean an unmarried woman of any age goes back well over 200 years (at least). That’s not really what I would personally consider recent.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            I guess I should have qualifued that be saying the use of “Miss” *at least within a certain social class* since Austen’s characters are all members of the landed gentry class (with a few people with titles of nobility sprinkled in). But that may be getting pretty pedantic, lol.

      2. Anononon*

        I wonder if it’s a location thing. I’m in my early thirties outside of Philadelphia, and I’m pretty sure I was taught growing up the difference between the three.

        1. A*

          I also wonder. I’m in New England, grew up outside major metro city and was taught the distinctions between the three as well as the historical relevance. I had no idea it was so misunderstood until I entered the workforce and chose to use ‘Ms.’ based on personal preference (because, ew, I am not a mistress nor am I some ‘Mr.’s’ belonging). I was in a blue collar industry that is not known for being on the forefront of progressiveness, and had a few people ‘joke’ that I seemed too young to be divorced.

          It was horrifying for young, single me. Actually, it’s still horrifying to older, single me. Now I just opt out and refuse to select a formal title like that. Thank goodness most drop downs have the option to leave it blank. Granted, I am not in a line of work where this comes up frequently at all – it’s really only if someone super old school is communicating with me. It’s been years since I’ve heard formal titles like that in the workforce. Although it might be partially driven by the large number of professional credentials – at a certain point it’s just too many acronyms haha.

        2. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          I started out in Oklahoma but ended up outside Philly by the time I was 7, and I was taught that Ms. is the equivalent of Mr., an honorific that doesn’t denote marital status. I’m 50, FWIW. It just made sense to me, and I’ve always used it in correspondence and on forms. I’m a-ok skipping it altogether; Wittenberg will do just fine.

    4. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      These incorrect rules about Ms. started shortly after the word was introduced. Hindsight, after all the things we’ve learned about lately with sexism and racism, leads me to believe this was deliberate on the part od certain people who didn’t like the change. They muddied the whole thing up and confused everyone. It’s always been the equivalent of Mr.

    5. Part Cheesy*

      And yet the fact that most people do not know this means you’ll be fighting upstream every time you use it. Constantly correcting people. Think before you make this choice – is it worth the fight?

      1. Natalie*

        I think that’s going to depend widely on where you are. I’ve used Ms my whole adult life (unmarried and now married) and never had to correct anyone or encountered any particular confusion.

          1. Ferret*

            Where do you live because this seems really weird to me. I’m nearly 30 and have used Ms my entire life without anyone really paying any attention or caring, my mum similarly for quite a while as well without any pushback. I’m i the UK and I can’t really think of anywhere in this country where it would stand out

            1. UKDancer*

              Likewise. I’m also in the UK, 40ish and have had no issues with being called Ms and don’t recall pushback. I’ve used the title my whole life since I was about 18 and decided that was my preference and had no issues.

              Well except for from my grandmother but then she was a particularly difficult woman with some fixed ideas.

            2. Anononon*

              Yes, I’m curious where they are as well. I’ve never ever received pushback for it as well. I’m early thirties outside of Philadelphia (northeast/mid-Atlantic part of US).

            3. Falling Diphthong*

              50s, US, used Ms my entire adult life (and I married in my early 20s), never had it be a big or even noticeable thing. My experience is that in this century, certainly, it’s the default.

              1. Clisby*

                66, US South. I’ve been using Ms. at least since the early-mid ’70s. I don’t recall anyone making a big deal about it. (I’m also surprised to hear there are still people who think it’s only for unmarried women – at least back in the 70s, it was abundantly clear that wasn’t the meaning.)

            4. MsSolo*

              Ditto – Ms since I was 13 (honestly, been using this sn since I was 13, so there’s a 20 year internet footprint of me using it!). The only people to get it wrong since I got married is members of my own family (who also keep assuming I changed my name), and now the novelty is wearing off a bit they’re mostly switching back. UK as well, though.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                My daughter lives in NYC and I am shocked that this has arisen enough times to draw the slightest attention.

            5. Jules the 3rd*

              Ditto, US South, 50ish yo. I think maybe I’ve had one person sneer a ‘oh, are you one a’ them feminists’, but everyone else has just switched to Ms with no comment.

          2. LutherstadtWittenberg*

            I’ve never once encountered an issue and I’m 50. It puzzles me that you wouldn’t find this worth fighting for.

        1. Joielle*

          Same. I’ve been working in professional positions for 10-ish years, married for five years, and don’t recall a single time I’ve been called anything other than Ms. or had to correct anyone. And it’s not like I live in some uber-liberal bastion! This whole discussion is wild to me.

          1. bleh*

            They certainly fight back in the Southwest and Midwest when you gently correct Mrs. / Miss to Ms. Ms. is considered uppity, and pointing out that it’s Dr when you’re a woman – also uppity.

            I was asked by a lawyer during jury selection (I was in the jury pool) in 2015 if it was Miss or Mrs. I answered Dr. and you’d have thought I farted.

      2. StrikingFalcon*

        This has to vary by region then, because where I live there is not much confusion. The meaning of Ms. is understood, and the occasional encounter with people who don’t know it stands out as unusual.

      3. logicbutton*

        If someone finds that correcting people is too much of a hassle (not my experience, for what it’s worth), they can stop at any time! No need to discourage them from even trying.

      4. snoopythedog*

        “is it worth the fight”….what to help throw out some relics of patriarchy that require you address women by their marital status? Noooo. Let’s let old and outdated traditions stay because it’s easier.

        Women have to constantly correct people anyways. Add it to the list. No, a woman’s place isn’t in the home. No, it’s not the default/automatic state to change your last name to your husband’s name. Yes, we should be paid the same for similar labour. Yes, it is sexist to ask the woman in the office to get the coffee/lunch orders regardless of her actual role…

        I go by Ms (an am married). And rarely have to correct people because honorifics are rarely used in my area. I haven’t found a polite way yet to say to my husband’s aunt that a)We both kept our last names and b)I go by Ms. not Mrs. But that’s mostly because we communicate by email, except for when she mails me things from her business, and I want to be cognizant of tone because I know she’s not doing it to be malicious. It’s just the default in her mind.

      5. PhysicsTeacher*

        What, better to be forced into a constant acceptance that other people define your worth by your relationship to men?

      6. A*

        I don’t necessarily think it’s ‘most’. People are far more likely to comment to say they didn’t know something, than to chime in and say “actually, this is common knowledge in my area!”.

        Personally I was surprised to see the number of commenters that were unclear. I’ve very rarely encountered any confusion, although the few times it did come up seemed to mostly be when I was living in the south. Growing up in New England in the late 80s/early 90s I was taught the distinction between the three, as well as the historical significance. Most of my friends in other public school systems were taught the same.

      7. Kiki*

        I think she should definitely still use Ms.! People are confused about many things, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn.

    6. High School Teacher*

      1. They’re going to notice, OP. The students always notice. :)

      2. Re: Ms. vs Mrs.– I am married but didn’t change my name and have used Ms. Lastname for my entire career. My students often call me just “Miss” (Hispanic students) or “Mrs. Lastnames” with a S that isn’t there (mostly Black students). I usually correct about that spare S but not the Mrs/Ms, and I didn’t before marriage either. Those students often give Mrs to any adult who presents as a woman, as a sign of respect rather than an indicator of marital status. When they ask me what to use, I say “I use Ms., but Mrs is fine. Miss would be incorrect because I’m married. Ms. means either.” This often surprises them. Students have told me they thought Miss is for young ladies/teens, Mrs is for adults. So that may be what’s happening with OP2’s clients– like how in Victorian England all cooks were Mrs., regardless of marital status. They consider it a more respectful term for an adult woman.

      Obviously I explain that Miss/Mrs are descriptive of marital status and Ms is neutral, but I’m their teacher and that’s my job–I don’t correct parents. Really I’m always happy when students ask my preference because it’s good for them to know some people have strong feelings about it, even though I don’t!

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        This has been my experience. People learn how to use Miss, Ms., Mrs. in a blanket sense as a student as The Respectful Word for A Grownup, that has no relationship to the Formal Etiquette Definition, and then just keeps running with that through adulthood. Whatever they’re calling you, has nothing to do with you and if you ask why they picked that title, they’ll say, “Because that’s what you call a grownup?” even if they’re 45 themselves.

    7. 2 Cents*

      I was told it was a term for a single, divorced woman. Otherwise, it’s Miss or Mrs. maybe that was the connotation in certain parts of the U.S. I since know differently.

    8. Moocow Cat*

      Yeah. My region of the world hasn’t gotten Alison’s message. The title of Ms. is used to refer to divorced women, harlots, or spinsters. When I use the title of Ms, people have an expression of mild anxiety. It’s safer to use the title of Mrs even though I’m not married. Can’t see this changing.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Yes, please tell us what geographic region you’re talking about!

          This whole conversation has been fascinating to me, as I had absolutely no idea there was so much confusion/so many different understandings about this.

          Ftr, I’m old enough to remember Ms. being introduced as an “one size fits all” title for women, so we could avoid being defined by our marital status back in the late 60s/early 70s and thinking it was a great idea. If someone had told me that 50 years in the future, loads of people would still be unclear on what it meant, I wouldn’t have believed it.

          If it really is still that unclear to large numbers of people, then what we should be doing is working like crazy to educate people, not giving up because it’s “safer”(???) to just use Mrs.

      1. A*

        Wow. Where is this if you don’t mind me asking?

        Harlots? Spinsters? What kind of heck hole is this (assuming it is not the 1800s)?!

        Unfortunately, change happens from pushing back. Of course you don’t see it changing, you are choosing to play into it (I don’t mean that in a negative way, we all pick our battles – I’m just pointing out the direct correlation there). Once upon a time the idea was radical EVERYWHERE.. and I promise you, this is a complete non-issue now in many, many areas.

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          I know! I’d intensely dislike using Mrs., and there’s so much ick with the disparagement connected to Ms. Boatloads of yikes!

    9. Mill Miker*

      I’m like 90% sure my grade school taught that “Ms.” was just short for “Miss”, like “Mr.” was for “Mister”, and that you use the short form when using it as a title.

  10. Jane Grey*

    Sigh. LW 1, individuals like yourself are doing more harm than good, and setting the kink community back. Please consider your actions and stop wearing your collar while teaching.

  11. Anonymity*

    The question is not whether you can wear a collar during your video meetings, it’s why do you want to? Very bad idea. Much too personal. And someone will notice.

  12. Courtney*

    Somewhat related to LW#2, I was always referred to as Mrs Jones whenever I was out with my father. Despite him being obviously 30ish years older than I, people always assumed we were married. It was disturbing, and has been happening even since his passing! I can only assume it was because my father was a very handsome and fairly wealthy man, and I was young enough to be of ‘trophy wife’ age (early to mid 20’s), and a conventionally attractive woman.

      1. Courtney*

        No, but he wasn’t one to make waves and I was always happy to stand up and say ‘not Mrs, I’m his daughter’ with a smile. It worked, and no one would ever try push the matter. Now it’s been a few years since his passing, I am able to laugh about it and people’s general assumptions.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      This happens to me a lot too. My dad and I have the same last name, so people assume we’re married and have been so assuming ever since I was in my early twenties (maybe even late teens). I actually have “[name] is my father, NOT my spouse!” in the “notes” field of my emergency contacts list at work.

      So creepy.

      1. Courtney*

        WOW! I never had to go that far. I’m sorry you’ve had this happening, it really isn’t a fun experience! Ever since dealing with my father’s estate I have had so many men (I don’t know why it’s only men, but here we are) calling me Mrs Jones, and I get to say ‘I am happy to say my father and I were never married!’

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          It didn’t help that I lived with my father as an adult when I was in graduate school (his house was very close to campus, so it made sense to move in with him and save money), and again when I was underemployed during/after the recession. Same last name and same address means a lot of people and/or algorithms assume married. AARP sent me promotional material when I was in my 20s because they assumed I was my dad’s spouse and general age.

          1. Quill*

            In my late teens / early twenties I would often be assumed to be my mom’s sister (or “assumed” since it was often waiters and you definitely can flatter people into tipping,) when we were out and about together. Worse, I have been assumed to be my 12 years younger cousin’s mother occasionally, since if you see a woman who could be 16, could be 18, walking around with a stroller of very similar looking infant you can mentally round her age up or do the teen mom math.

            Now my mom’s let her hair go grey, my cousin is obviously a teenager and I’m obviously not old enough to have one of those, but my mom did, once, get “you must be such a proud grandmother!” when at a restauraunt with me and my cousin.

      2. Laura Beth*

        My dad and I worked together and traveled frequently to conferences, and I always joked that I needed to include “daughter” on my nametag. It was especially confusing to me because we looked a lot alike! However, it stopped bothering me as much after I once mistook a married couple for a mother-son duo. Thankfully I hadn’t said anything out loud, but it just seems less embarrassing and potentially insulting to be wrong about couple than wrong about parent-child. I do think it’s more common for father-daughter though. My boyfriend’s daughter has been mistaken for his girlfriend since she was 14 :/

        1. Amy Sly*

          The worst one for me was when my husband and I were traveling with his mom. The receptionist thought they were married and I was the daughter!

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          My dad (who I look like a mini, female version of, we look that similar) would drive me back to college most times, and would generally take me out to lunch. Probably 1/3 of the time, someone would assume we were married. The most awkward? hilarious? awful? one was when at a dinner, my dad ordered a beer and I ordered a lemonade. Waiter assumed that since Dad was of age, and obviously I was with him, that I misspoke and wanted a vodka lemon. Manager was horrified that 1) that’s not what I asked for, and 2) I wasn’t even 20, and 3) yeah, that’s my dad.

          1. Amanda*

            What IS it with waitstaff who will push alcohol at you if they think you’re of age? Can’t you be allowed to just not like alcohol, for cripes sake?!

            Sorry, this has happened to me so many times, it’s become one of my pet peeves.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Alcohol is an easy way to dramatically increase the bill and thus their tip. Most restaurants I go to have $2 for unlimited refills of soda or $8/glass of wine. If someone has two glasses and leaves a 20% tip, that’s $3.80 for the waiter instead of $0.40.

              1. Amy Sly*

                Sorry, got that math wrong. 20% on the alcohol would be $3.20, which would be $2.80 more than what the waiter would get on the soda.

              2. Amanda*

                That may be part of it, I guess. But I’m in a country where tips are not the norm, and this still happens a LOT.

                1. A*

                  It’s still an upsell, and without a tip structure the waitstaff is potentially even MORE incentivized (since they are, ya know, receiving a livable wage unlike in tipping countries). Higher bills / better sales pitches = better work performance, stronger job security by strengthening employers bottom line, etc.

                  No different than any other upsell where commissions don’t come into play.

            2. Rake*

              Alcohol is always more expensive than a soft drink. The waiter wants a bigger tip, it’s not necessarily that they’re trying to push alcohol on your for alcohol’s sake

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                It’s the same for pushing desserts, just with a law behind it. At least you can’t get an underage fine for giving someone a brownie.

                1. Amanda*

                  It’s not the same though. A waiter might ask if you want dessert, even insist, but they won’t show up with a brownie and put it in front of you. But I have had waiters show up with vodka on my OJ, because apparently that’s the only way an adult would drink juice in a restaurant (actual explanation one waiter gave me!).

            3. Environmental Compliance*

              It is an easy way to push up the bill, but it’s also a ridiculously risky thing to do. The number of times I *wasn’t* carded prior to 21 and moderately aggressively offered wine/mixed drinks was obnoxious. Now I’m almost 30 and everyone’s decided I gotta be carded. Dude, just let me have my $2 Aldi’s wine….

              Or, you could be like part of my family, who are actually allergic to alcohol. Please do not bring Grandma a gin and tonic, thanks, she didn’t want that, doesn’t like that, and will get hives, she does not need “a sample”.

              Just ask and move on, please. I don’t care in any way about being asked, but I do not need to be asked more than three times, thank you, and at this point no, I don’t want dessert either, I’m wanting to leave. And don’t bring me a glass of wine on the house when I’ve already said I don’t want any alcohol to drink, and then when I decline (again) immediately assume I’m pregnant. *eye twitch*

              1. Amanda*

                “Just ask and move on, please. I don’t care in any way about being asked, but I do not need to be asked more than three times”

                This. This is exactly what’s hard for me to understand. If I don’t order alcohol, and my drink comes with alcohol, that would decrease a tip, not increase it. Asking is fine, but if someone says no, just bring them what they actually ordered!

              2. Pomona Sprout*

                “The number of times I *wasn’t* carded prior to 21 and moderately aggressively offered wine/mixed drinks was obnoxious.”

                Wow. I can truthfully say that this absolutely never happened to me! I wonder if it’s just because times have changed (I turned 21 many, many years ago), or if it’s due to the fact that when I WAS 21, I looked about 16. Either way, it didn’t happen.

    2. Casper Lives*

      This has happened to me a couple times! Most memorably, I was treating my father and sister to a Father’s Day lunch. The cashier thought my father was my husband and my sister was our daughter. (My sister was offended because she’s not much younger than me and was offered the child discount. I told her she should’ve accepted haha)

    3. blackcat*

      Gah, this happened to me when I was 17 and my dad brought me to a conference (it involved travel to DC, and I did sight seeing during the day while he was working, but I attended dinners). I was 17! 17! I started aggressively initiating the typical 17yo convo of college with everyone and they got the drift.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I got mistaken for my dad’s wife once. I was in my early 30s, he in his early 60s. My younger son was 4 and dad came with us to my son’s Dr appointment to discuss an outpatient surgery. The doctor was about dad’s age, and proceeded to somehow make it known to us that he thought I was dad’s wife and my 4-year-old was our son. It was awkward. Then the Dr explained that his mind had just naturally gone there because his own wife was 30 and they had a young child together. None of the other patterns fit though. I guess I was conventionally attractive, but we both clearly looked as the new immigrants we were, dad was either on welfare or in a minimum-wage job (don’t remember which), wearing second-hand clothes, as he did. We did not have the same last name, either! (Though I suppose the Dr never asked what my dad’s last name was.) Maybe the Dr was just looking for a way to tell us about his incredible luck on the family front, and pretending to assume dad and I were husband and wife seemed a good opening!

    5. Aitch Arr*

      I’ve had this happen when I was younger (in my late teens / early 20s).

      One time I was at a convention where my father’s company was an exhibitor. I was working the booth and was asked if I was his wife.

      Another time, my parents and I were walking in a major metro US city, dressed up for dinner. My mom and I both took one of my dad’s arms as we walked. A man we passed muttered under his breath “lucky SOB” and we all laughed.

  13. Baffled Teacher*

    LW1, I am also a teacher, so I get to say this: what the hell are you thinking?? I understand we have distance learning burnout end-of-year lockdown brain, and that everything feels lawless and consequence-free, it really does, but all it takes is one parent or admin or god forbid student realizing what it is and you will be at “fired or resign” status at the speed of light, especially if you don’t have tenure. Don’t ever wear it around your students or coworkers again. The fact that you seem only marginally self-aware about this/want to think you’re getting away with something makes me guess that you’re pretty new professionally. If you are: your attitude toward this is immature, your conduct is inappropriate, and you are endangering your job. That shouldn’t be the case, but it is. You have worked really hard to get here; don’t throw it away over “teehee I fooled the normies again” antics. And yes, that looks like a collar and more people than you think will recognize it as one.

    1. Anonymity*

      It looks exactly like a collar. Why jeopardize your entire career? What statement are they trying to make?

    2. allathian*

      Visible kink, I said. If I don’t know about it, if there’s no chance my kid will know about it, there’s no problem. I would imagine that the people who have a problem with a teacher taking a drink on vacation would also have a problem with a teacher bringing their sex life into the classroom. I was just saying that I have a problem with kink but not with the occasional drink, YMMV.
      I would hope that racism, sexism, pedophilia and proselytizing would be a problem everywhere, but sadly that’s not the case.

      1. Luna*

        I do agree with you that OP1 would be exercising poor judgment in wearing their collar while on the clock in most jobs, including this one.

        I extremely disagree with the idea that it would be on the same level as a teacher doing any of those other things, but clearly you have very strong opinions on BDSM and we’re not going to agree on that, so. Just, y’know, maybe consider finding a less inflammatory comparison.

        1. allathian*

          I do have very strong opinions about it, and for once I seem to be very much in a minority. I’m just wondering what a less inflammatory comparison might be. Drinks off the clock are a total non-issue for me, but teachers have been fired for it in the US. In my country they wouldn’t be fired unless they showed up at work drunk, and probably not even then for a first offence. People in pretty much any job would be fired for showing up drunk repeatedly, teachers aren’t held to a higher standard in that respect here.

      2. AW*

        You’ve been told already to stop calling people sick for their fetishes please just stop

    3. just a random teacher*

      Yeah, I mean, I am basically out of fucks to give, and may not have brushed my hair before a video meeting with a parent yesterday, but this just seems like an incredibly poor decision even by Burned-Out Distance Learning standards. My goal is for my students to know as little about my personal life as possible, except for a few specifically-chosen facts for public consumption. (They all get to know that I have a dog, for example.)

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Yes, family photo type information is fine. Spouse, kids, pets, plants. Maybe a couple unimportant facts about each. Cool.
        Hobbies? Sure. I know one school teacher who does sword fighting with a historical reenactment group, and invites them to do a demonstration for the grade she teaches every year. More mundane hobbies are also fine. If your students all know you crochet, you might get some lovely yarn for Christmas instead of 2 dozen “Best Teacher” mugs.
        But truly personal details (relationship issues, embarrassing stories about your kids, politics, religion, and especially kinks) do not belong in the classroom.

    4. Part Cheesy*

      Yes. By and large, people are not fooled by these kinds of games. It’s the OP who’s attempting to fool themselves by trying to get away with something.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I had the same thought and it reminded me of when I was in middle school – we weren’t allowed to wear makeup but I would put on a tiny bit of eye shadow because I wanted to see if I could get away with it. I was 13.

    6. Ray Gillette*

      “Teehee I fooled the normies,” exactly. That’s what gets my back up about this letter. I would have more sympathy for someone saying “It’s just a piece of jewelry, why should it matter so much” but that’s not happening here.

      I think the levels of scrutiny that teachers are subject to is ridiculous, but LW is still in the wrong. Get something that can either be completely hidden by clothing or looks like a regular necklace.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Agreed. The ‘teehee I fooled the normies’ attitude – that’s a normalish/whatever attitude to have out in regular life, I guess. But in teaching minors, it’s juvenile, at absolute best.

  14. Vicki Brown*

    Re #2, you might be surprised by how many people have the mistaken belief that Ms is used by women who have been widowed or divorced. I ran across an article recently that was bemoaning the fact that here are 3 different honorifics for women and all hee reference martial status.

    As a substitute teacher, I have sometimes stopped the lesson to explain the origins of Ms to students (“Wait, you’re married, but…??? Yes, dears, let me give you a history lesson.)

    As someone who was “coming f age” when Ms was coming into play, I am shocked by how many women (and men) younger than I am have no idea what it means.

    1. allathian*

      Good for you, I think Ms. should be the standard honorific for women. I do understand that some married women may prefer Mrs. but Miss should go the way of Master, which was mainly used to refer to young upper-class boys in a bygone age.
      That said, I’m from a very informal culture where honorifics are used very rarely. I’ve called my teachers by their first names since daycare! I’ve never called a boss anything other than their first name.

      1. Bridget the Elephant*

        A lot of GP surgeries where I live still use Master as the title for boys when they call them through from the waiting room. It comes up in the display board.

      2. MsNotMrs*

        OP #2 here–calling people by honorifics is overall not customary here (Midwestern US) but it’s all but mandatory at this job. I would love to just go by my first name, but even my staff calls me Ms. Smith. I call my boss by her first name when we’re alone, but Ms. Jones in front of others. It’s just the workplace culture and there’s no way around it, unfortunately.

    2. MJ*

      And you might also be surprised that Mrs and Miss both come from ‘mistress’, and that mistress was used for all females regardless of marital status. Later Mrs came to denote a woman of social standing or a business woman – and still had nothing to do with marital status. Miss was primarily used in reference to girls, but it was adopted by ‘older’ females (young Misses). Jane Austin used it. Only much later did the words become to reflect the woman’s marital status.

    3. Jemima Bond*

      I’m sure when I was little I had Ms presented to me as what you’d choose if you got divorced and didn’t want to be Mrs any more but didn’t want to revert to Miss Maidenname (because you’d got used to your married name or had chosen a new one). Never heard the suggestion of widowhood as a reason though – sounds cold, frankly!
      It was also raised in a Paula Danziger book (the cat ate my gym suit?) as used by a teacher who was married but didn’t take her husband’s name.
      I suppose these are effectively overly specific versions of the general “my marital status is none of your business” reasoning that I’ve been aware of for a while now. Perhaps people used to feel that “mind your own beeswax” isn’t a sufficient and women needed to explain more. Probably a bit sexist in itself, that is; implying that woman have to explain such things and others have a right to know.

    4. Terrysg*

      I’m 50 and always knew what Ms. meant, so I’m not sure where all the other meanings come from. You learn something new every day!

      1. Catherine Tilney*

        I’m in my late 40’s, and I’ve never heard them either. It’s always been Ms = woman (of any age). It’s interesting to hear all these differences.

    5. Perpal*

      I always knew what Ms. meant but not how to pronounce it for the longest time! Seems pretty hart to tell apart from Miss, audio-wise.

    6. Ciela*

      I did use Miss before I was married, but I got married very young.
      I did change my last name when I was married, but only ever use “Mrs” when I am trying to speak to some kind of phone bank CSR on my husband’s behalf.

      Banks, customers, doctors, anyone else who really, really wants to use my last name? Ms., always Ms.
      I just met you, there’s no need to discuss my marital status. Plus with the Mrs. my first name would be replaced by my husband’s. No, I shall keep my own first name, thank you very much.

    7. MsNotMrs*

      LW #2 here: this comment section is really opening my eyes to how many people were incorrectly taught the difference between Miss/Ms/Mrs.

      My problem isn’t so much with people who get it wrong the first time as it is people who continue to use it even after correction. It’s hard to not feel somewhat disrespected. I would imagine I would feel the same if my name were being repeatedly mispronounced, for example.

  15. Lilian*

    OP2
    I’ve been speaking primarily English everyday since I was 12, but I never knew that if you don’t change your name when getting married you aren’t technically a Mrs. I suspect non-native English speakers never get taught the specifics, just Mrs=married, Ms=don’t want to disclose(I do default to Ms, but I never knew I was also a Ms myself…) So if you’re dealing with any clients that aren’t native English speakers, many of them might not be aware of the difference and they are probably just following rules of what they were taught that are ingrained in their brains. I think the whole Mrs thing should be abolished, but in the meantime I don’t think there’s a way to have everyone address you as Ms, unfortunately.

    1. Tin Cormorant*

      Same. I was really confused when reading that letter because I had always been taught Mrs. was for married women, and changing your name had nothing to do with it. And I’m a native speaker who made a career on my English skills! I learned something today. I can definitely understand not wanting to be defined by your marital status.

    2. Jackalope*

      So you were right the first time, actually. Mrs. can be for any woman who is married, not just women who change their names. And honestly, her clients wouldn’t have a way to know if she changed her last name at marriage or not, so they’re just not aware of the concept of a non-marriage-related title for women.

      1. Mx*

        Mrs. is supposed to be used with the husband’s last name, though. In the past, the wife used to be “Mrs. (first and last name of the husband).” It’s why Ivanka is Ms. Trump, but if she wanted to use Mrs., it would be Mrs. Kushner. For those of us who didn’t change our last names, “Mrs.” + our own last name feels a bit icky since it implies we married our fathers.

        1. doreen*

          I think there’s a certain, younger group that doesn’t get that. My daughter’s more distant-in-laws must all think her parents are divorced – because she named us as Mrs Doreen My last name and Mr My husband’s name on her wedding invitations. ( I would not have minded Mr & Mrs Husband, and she should have known that) She apparently was under the impression that married women are always Mrs , no matter which name they use – and in looking at wedding sites, it seems it’s pretty common for her age group.

    3. I can only speak Japanese*

      German here. A lot of us call all our teachers Mrs. Whatever, and no one taught me about Ms. until I was in college majoring in English. A lot of Germans think Mrs. is what you call any adult woman, because we only distinguish between Fräulein (Miss) and Frau (Mrs. or Ms.). I suspect the same is true for a lot of French people, because I kept getting letters addressed to Mrs. Myname when I lived in Geneva.

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, we only really distinguish between them archaically, i. e. in recognising “Fräulein” as something that’s historically something that existed and not, like, actively – it’s been abolished as a serious form of address since the seventies and I don’t know anyone under the age of about 80 who addresses others as “Fräulein” (in sincerety, I mean – I totally know people who do it in a condescending manner towards a young woman or who want to be cutesy or something; the only exception to that are the old ladies (and it’s always ladies!) who come at me in the store I work at with “Entschuldigen S’, Frollaaaain?!”).

        (Unrelatedly, I’m intrigued by your “a lot of us” – what do these students who aren’t part of the lot call their female teachers if not “Frau So-und-so”? Or do you mean during English lessons?)

        1. I can only speak Japanese*

          I meant “a lot of us Germans” – I can’t speak for all of us obviously!

          And yeah, we don’t use Fräulein anymore (only parents yelling at their daughters basically lol), but that’s probably another reason why so many Germans think/used to think that every adult Frau is Mrs. in English.

          1. UKDancer*

            My German godparents used to call me Fraulein when they wrote my birthday cards when I was a child in the 1980s but I’ve not seen it for ages otherwise. I was in Austria a couple of years ago and the man on the hotel reception called me Fraulein and used “du” and I corrected him fairly quickly and pointedly used “Sie” because it came across as a bit creepy and lecherous that he was being inappropriately familiar and using the incorrect title.

            I don’t mind being informal with my friends but not with a complete stranger.

            1. Asenath*

              The default in Canada seems to be to use your first name. I’m generally pretty informal, but even so, it sometimes seems odd when complete strangers, not even professionals I’ve had a relationship with for years, use my first name just as though we were old friends or at least in a long-term professional relationship.

            2. I can only speak Japanese*

              Inappropriate and unwanted Duzen is a big problem these days. It’s not casual if you do it because I look young, it just comes across as condescending and rude, old lady at the underwear store! Ugh.

              1. UKDancer*

                This so much. I always prefer people start with Sie until I know them a bit and I definitely prefer to be on Sie terms with people in shops / restaurants etc as it feels politer somehow. We’re not friends, we’re business acquaintances so a degree of formality seems more appropriate.

                I am happy to Duzen some of my work acquaintances but as the non native speaker I’d wait for them to suggest it to avoid giving offence. At least one of them I’ve known for 5 years and we’re still on Sie terms (but he’s an older, formal gentleman from North Germany and I gather that’s the way he is).

                1. starsaphire*

                  I love this thread! I never knew before that the German language had a concept equivalent to the French “tutoyer.” Thank you! :)

              2. Myrin*

                Versandhäuser! Stores! Freaking Deutsche Bahn!
                Everyone and their mother has taken to duzing (lol) me and I’m beyond annoyed by it. I don’t know you, Mr. Otto-Versandhandel! Show some respect and distance, please!

          2. Libervermis*

            One of the teachers at the German school where I taught English would sometimes call girls in her class “junge Frau” when she was frustrated. She only did that to her fifth and sixth grade classes, not her eleventh grade class though, and she was the only teacher who did that.

            Meanwhile some Americans learned German from The Sound of Music and believe that “Fräulein” is still a thing – my coworkers at my job the summer before I went to Germany started calling me “Fräulein [Lastname]”. And since I learned that Frau = Mrs. originally, it weirded me out the first time I (a young unmarried woman) was addressed as “Frau [Lastname]”.

            My friends (especially those who teach ESL/ELL) in the K-12 system in the US tell me it’s become fairly common for their middle and high school students to just call them “Miss”, which I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I wonder if the same students call their male teacher just “Mister”?

          3. Amy*

            A native German speaking friend recently compared “fraulein” to “missy” – a dated word without much use in modern English.

            1. Anono-me*

              It’s a dated word. But it still gets used. I hear it quite often when I tell people who are older than me no to something.

              As in they start their angry complaint with “Listen here Missy……”

              Since Missy is also an actual name sometimes given to a girl, I usually start my response with “Actually, my name is not Missy. ….”

      2. Asenath*

        When I was teaching – in an English-speaking area – all female teachers were addressed as “Miss” unless their surname was also used. That is, a student might say “Miss Smith” or “Mrs Smith” (“Ms” was just coming into use) but most of the time, they would say “Miss” – if they asked a question, it would be “Miss, can you please explain how you got 25 as the answer?”; if they wanted to catch your attention in the corridor, they’d call out “Miss! Miss! until you answered them. The male equivalent was “Sir!” and they’d only use Miss or Mrs or Mr Smith when they needed to distinguish among several teachers. For example, if they were older students who had several teachers, they’d say “Miss Smith gave us a lot of homework”, but if they were young students with a single classroom teacher, they might tell their parents “Miss gave me this letter for you”. I suspect this was a regional usage, though, and not common in all parts of the English-speaking world.

        1. I can only speak Japanese*

          I suspect it’s regional as well. Also, is it possible that most womenin that area left their jobs after getting married? That would explain why they’re all Miss, as they’re presumed to be unmarried.
          Still, Miss versus Sir really irks me. At least use Ma’am.

          1. Asenath*

            “Ma’am” was not in common use locally – I suppose it might be used in a high-end store, and even then, if the clerk called a female customer “Ma’am” she might well be annoyed if she was a young woman, because “Ma’am” was strongly associated with old – and old-fashioned – women.

            Most of the female teachers were married – if there was ever the idea that married female teachers must resign, it was well before my time. Some did leave on marriage, but some also returned to teaching as their own children grew up, so I guess it balanced out. I suspect many small rural communities, like this one, accepted married teachers (and nurses) long ago because they had a very hard time attracting anyone at all. There was an idea that female teachers couldn’t hand discipline in some classes, but that idea was also dying out by my time, and never seemed to apply to teachers of younger children.

            1. Carlie*

              There are also regions where adults who are on more of a friendly basis rather than authoritative with children (parents’ friends, church acquaintances) get called Miss Firstname, regardless of marital status.

        2. HannahS*

          Yeah, same here. We did use “Ms. Whatever” when calling the full name, but said “Miss” and”Sir” if not using the last name.

          1. I can only speak Japanese*

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ms. used alone, so I guess yelling out “Miss!” makes sense, but still…

        3. Bridget the Elephant*

          My students did this too when I was teaching. When I was in secondary school, we weren’t allowed to do it – you had to address the teachers by “Title Surname”, not “Miss” or “Sir”.

        4. Humble Schoolmarm*

          This is certainly my experience. Interestingly enough I’m Miss no last name in English but Madame no last name in French. The student also use Last Name (no honorific) to talk about us amongst themselves. It’s something like “Schoolmarm gave us a ton of homework today” vs “Sorry I’m late, Miss, I had to talk to Ms Schoolmarm.”

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        In France I can assure you that Ms is well beyond any understanding! We have Mme and Mlle.
        Mme short for Madame, for married women and also for women old-enough-that-they-really-should-be-married-by-now-so-let’s-pretend-they-are-rather-than-insult-them-by-continuing-to-call-them-Mlle-rubbing-in-the-fact-that-no-man-has-wanted-to-marry-them (see why French is the language of diplomacy?!).
        Mlle, short for mademoiselle, for young unmarried women. And also used to hit on women who are obviously supposed to be called Mme, as a reverse diplomacy/pick-up technique, to reassure them that they still look young and sexy and charming.

        The cutoff point between young unmarried and old enough that they should be married: 25.

        So you can see it’s a minefield if you find yourself having to address a woman without knowing what she uses.

        A few years back feminists tried to ban “Mlle” and it has been officially banned, so the tax office calls all women Mme. But it hasn’t been properly banned, so the bank still calls me Mlle. And there was such a lot of hoo-ha because we were interfering with the French tradition of seduction. The Latin macho is still not just an ageing cliché here!

        As a young woman, I once asked my landlord to remove the “Mlle” on my letterbox along with the exact location of my front door. He said “but you’re not married”. I said, “precisely, I’m a single woman living alone and I do not wish to advertise the fact.” He said “but we can’t put ‘Mme’ because you’re not married!”. I said, “precisely, that’s why I only asked you to remove the ‘Mlle’ and didn’t ask you to replace it with ‘Mme’. Just my surname will do, it’s not like there’s anyone else with the same surname in the entire building so anything addressed to Mlle or Ms or Miss Surname will end up in my letterbox.”

    4. AcademiaNut*

      If you go back to very old fashioned usage, a married woman was referred to as “Mrs John Smith”, with her husband’s first name, or Mr and Mrs John Smith as a couple. I think the Mrs Jane Smith format was used for divorced women for a while, and then crept into more general usage. Ms was introduced as an alternative in the 70s.

      I know that in some other languages they didn’t add a new word, but dropped an old one – German dropped Fraulein to use Frau for everyone, and in Taiwanese Mandarin using 小姐 (Miss) is used fairly generally regardless of marital status.

      1. Lilian*

        Yes, I remember German dropping Fraeulein and I wish English would do the same! But i guess it’s not that easy.

      2. New poster*

        I think you’d be interested to know Ms. first appeared in 1901 as a way to refer to women without using marital status, then gained traction in the 60s and 70s. A few years ago, the French government also abolished « mademoiselle » on official forms in lieu of « Madame » so that all women are referred to the same, regardless of marital status (though it hasn’t taken hold much in practice yet). Okay done nerding out about feminist etymology, I could talk about this all day :)

        1. Ginger Sheep*

          French commenter here! I totally agree in principle with doing away with Mademoiselle (Miss, supposedly referring to unmarried women but actually used to refer to minor and younger women – I object to it personally more as an ageist term than as a sexist term, though it is definitely sexist as well, since no similar term exists for men.). In everyday life, I find it actually very difficult and weird to refer to my five-year old daughter, or even my late-teen students, as Madame! (Imagine trying to get used to calling every woman regardless of age Mrs.!)

          1. UKDancer*

            It’s interesting. I prefer Madame as Mademoiselle makes me feel about 6 years old so when I’m in France that’s what I tell people to use. Mademoiselle also can feel a bit like a chat up line sometimes. All the French and Belgian women I know professionally use Madame regardless of marital status.

            Interestingly when I was in Rabat I called the server in the restaurant Madame and she told me that she was too young to be Madame and corrected me to Mademoiselle which was interesting as I’d have said she was in her 20s. I don’t know if that’s a cultural difference between French in Morocco and French in France and Belgium.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              She may also just look just older than she is. My daughter was 10 when a museum docent suggested she apply for their college internship program.

              1. UKDancer*

                Well in my view if she was old enough to work in a restaurant and carry heavy plates (which would be at least 16 according to the local legislation), she was old enough to be called “Madame” but her view was obviously different.

                I tend to subscribe to the view that you should call people what they want to be called so I acceded to her request but I thought it was interesting as a differing cultural practice from my previous experiences in other Francophone countries.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Ah! I am not fluent in French, I thought it was for when someone is a legal adult.
                  For what it’s worth, in my state in the US, someone can work as young as 14 with parental permission.

          2. pancakes*

            It felt quite sexist to me during my first (and so far only) visit to France age 24 or so. I was traveling with my much older and richer boyfriend at the time and was called Mlle. absolutely everywhere, including many occasions where referencing my marital status or age seemed entirely unnecessary, like passing through the hotel lobby. “Bonjour, mlle,” seemed to be saying more than a simple greeting needs to say!

    5. Jen*

      When I learned English in school (the 90s), we were taught that Mrs = married woman and Miss = unmarried woman. They never went further than that, and I’m pretty sure that my teachers were unaware that Ms was a thing…

      I learned about it online, but then again I’ve been interacting with American culture through the internet for 30 years. I am sure that most of the English-speaking people in this country, unless they are very advanced in their knowledge, don’t know Ms exists (especially since in Romanian there is no equivalent word).

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I concur on all accounts – I’m German and I know I’ve said this before when the topic came up here but I would be highly surprised if any of my teachers, even the young ones who had been living in an English-speaking country shortly before they taught me, were aware of “Ms.” at all. They might be by now but I’m willing to bet that they weren’t then. I was about 24 and on AAM when I first heard about it.

      2. Rewis*

        We don’t use titles in genral. But in English class we had to refer to the teacher as mrs. when we greeted her. Then we got a male teacher and called him mrs. aswell. We thought that mrs. was something you just called all teachers in English speaking World. We were maybe 7 years old. He tried to correct us for a long time. Once we were older and could understand the meaning behind the title we were taught Ms. but when you don’t ever use the titles in real life, you forget that these words have meaning.

      3. Amanda*

        As a ESL, I learned that Miss = young girls/teens, Ms = unmarried women of age, Mrs = married women. My teachers back then could not explain how we were supposed to adress someone if we didn’t know their marital status.

        The consensus was, I kid you not, that the most “flattering” possible option should be used: if a woman was still fairly young we should start with miss, and if she was above ~25 we should assume she was married and go with mrs. And Ms. should be avoided unless someone told us to use it, as it could be offensive. (Because I guess not being married is shameful after a certain age?!)

        1. Rexish*

          “Because I guess not being married is shameful after a certain age?!”

          Well some countries used to have a spinster tax for unmarried people over the age of 25… (I really hope they have abolished this everywhere by now)

    6. Kiitemso*

      I’m ESL and I had no idea about these distinctions myself until I did a deep google session to try to learn everything (and I’m sure I still make mistakes). Plus some people may have interference from their own language and culture backgrounds, where the distinctions are different, or not at all important. Of course, one maybe should learn this if you intend to do business in English but a lot of people will pick up their “job English” on the job, not by learning meticulously in class.

    7. Rewis*

      I’m from a country where we don’t use use titles. They do exist but are not used outside the military or president and their spouse. When I moved to an English speaking country I messed this up so many times. It was just remembering to use any title was hard enough and then people being offended if I used the wrong one (I went with Ms. but some older women found this rude). Thankfully in my work I could get away with not using titles at all or asking them for their prefered title. I personally don’t mind what I’m refered as. Some call me mrs. (i’m not married) but because nobody uses it in my language I find it very entertaining.

      1. Libervermis*

        Oh that’s fascinating! Is there a way to address people formally vs. informally in your language/country? I’m so accustomed to languages that have titles

        1. Libervermis*

          Posted too soon!

          I’m so accustomed to languages that have titles, it’s interesting to me to think of the different ways one might shift their language (or not! A completely egalitarian language sounds cool) in situations where I would use a title.

        2. Rewis*

          We use plural you to adress someone formally and singular you to address informally (those are different words in our language). But it is possible to speak in a way that you don’t address people formally or informally. When I was is customer Service I always tried to avoid addressing the customers with either. People, professions and generations have very different feelings towards when the formal you should be used.

          1. DyneinWalking*

            Oh, but that involves some grammatical contortions, right? German has a formal and an informal you, and while it IS possible to avoid using either, it involves carefully tailored sentences. I’ve done it plenty of times, but it works best in writing. Spoken words also if you are really determined, but still nigh impossible without messing up at some point.

            1. Rewis*

              A bit late to response. It occationally requires contortions, but you can learn to talk a certain way and it becomes easier. Yes, sometimes it sounds funny cause you forget but you rarely are expected to use the formal you in everyday situations so it’s not a crime one way or another.

  16. Four lights*

    LW1: I don’t know what grade you teach, but teenagers are very gossipy. If they figure out what you’re wearing and what it means they will talk about your sex life behind your back. I know because we did that in eighth grade when two teachers were dating. I’m assuming that would be weird for you and not something you would want.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Absolutely. I have been out of high school for a long time and still have very distinct memories of gossiping with my friends about two teachers we were convinced were having an affair (spoiler alert: I got proof a couple years after graduating that it was true). We also gossiped about the relationship between a teacher and a student (which also turned out to be true).

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Heck, we were doing that in middle school. We all were convinced two teachers were having an affair, it was just common knowledge gossip. And then found out late high school we were right. Kids are surprisingly perceptive, and have the whole of Google at their fingertips.

        1. A*

          Exactly. There is a lot of underestimating of kids exposures to these kinds of things going on. My guess is opinions tend to split primarily down the line of those who had an analogue upbringing versus those that didn’t (and chose to engage in online activities, had access etc. etc.)

    2. Observer*

      It’s not just about having an affair. Someone mentioned a kid who noticed that her LIPSTICK did not match her TOENAIL POLISH.

      I remember as a high schooler, noticing when teachers got pregnant. My mother asked me how I was so good at it when most other people were not noticing, and I told her “We spend a LOT of time looking at the teacher. Of course we notice the details!” (At least I had the sense to rarely share the “news”.)

  17. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

    OP2: I stayed Ms too and it blew some minds. Like Alison, I feel strongly about this and I think you have every right to be frustrated with the sexism in play here.

    To further what Alison says about “whether continually correcting someone has a negative impact on the dynamic you have…” I mean, only you really know your workplace and the sensitivities of the relationships you have there. But if someone knowingly, repeatedly calls you by the wrong name..? You’re not the one being a jerk, they are.

    The guy who didn’t know it was an “option” not to change your name? Well, now he knows it is because you’ve explicitly told him it is and what name to call you by. If he continues to call you by the wrong name he is being a jerk.

    No one else’s beliefs, religion, culture, expectations – or any other consideration about them – gets to outweigh your right to be called by your actual name. It would be offensive to continue calling someone Sammy when they’ve told you their name is actually Sandeep just because it’s a name that makes more sense to you culturally. Or to continue calling someone Dr Brown instead of Prof Brown just because it’s more common and you’re used to it. Right? I see no difference with Ms/Mrs. It’s your name and you get to insist. (If you want to.)

    1. Kiki*

      I definitely agree that LW is more than justified in making this he correction because it is always okay to make sure you are being addressed the way you prefer (…unless that way is Master https://www.askamanager.org/2016/09/my-coworker-wants-us-to-call-her-boyfriend-her-master.html).

      I do think, though, it can be mentally freeing to keep in mind that a lot of people who mess this up aren’t being intentionally disrespectful, it is a complexity of the English language they have not fully grasped. Because there are all sorts of misconceptions floating around about Miss, Ms., Mrs. Some people think the distinction is age not marriage, some people think Ms. is just an abbreviation of Miss. Not that LW is being nitpicky to make the correction, just that I have found keeping this in mind helps me from losing my extremely limited stock of emotional energy on stuff like this.

    2. Part Cheesy*

      But what if they wanted to be called Monsieur XXX in America? Or Mademoiselle XXX? Her Lord and Master XXX? Dr. XXX (if she’s not a doctor)?

      I’m not trying to be difficult but there are limits to what you can expect of people. It’s not your name that you’re asking them to go by, but an honorific – and an honorific that, right or wrong, isn’t understood to be used the way you want to use it by many.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It is standard English…Even William Safire gave up and endorsed “Ms.”

        1. Part Cheesy*

          Yes and that was 35 years ago and most people still don’t use it or understand it the way some hope they will.

          1. UKDancer*

            I think it depends where you are. In the UK most people do use and understand it. I’ve used Ms my whole professional life and never had people not understanding or using it.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Honestly this is the first place I ever saw someone NOT know what it means. I’m in the US northeast…you?

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Nearly every single correspondence I get from agencies or contractors has Ms. I don’t think I’ve *ever* been addressed at work as Mrs or Miss. I think the only time someone has ever called me Miss was in a retail store or something and someone was trying to walk past me in an aisle. Even then it’s like 25/25/50 of miss/ma’am/just plain ope, sorry, ‘scuse me, thanks. At Old Job, with some employees from the South, they would occasionally call me ma’am, but they did that with every woman (and every man was sir), so I did make the assumption that was just regional.

              US Midwest. IIRC, we were taught that Ms. was the generic honorific, nothing to do with marital status.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Wow. In the DC area and the pacific northwest, and also with extensive travel in other parts of the US, I’ve never had Ms. be anything even remotely near an issue. I’m very surprised to hear that (and judging from other comments here, I think your experience is likely an outlier).

              2. Huh*

                My experience living in NYC was the complete opposite. I was in the public school system, so maybe it’s different in private, but we were absolutely taught the difference between the three and the historical significance.

                In fact this is spoken of often at the various lectures, events, forums etc. that I attend, so even if people are unaware I’m surprised to hear that it’s still not on people’s radars. I’m guessing we are dealing with very different demographics?

          3. A*

            “most people still don’t use it or understand it the way some hope they will.”

            I would be extremely surprised if, as you claim, it is the majority that ‘don’t use it or understand it’. I have had exactly two conversations in my life where this came up and highlighted a discrepancy in understanding, both of which were with individuals who recently moved to the US from countries that don’t have comparable formalities.

            As has been mentioned, I think your experience might be an outlier. Or at the very least, it’s not as common as you seem adamant to make it appear.

      2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Oh please. Going by Ms is not making up some fanciful title for myself or insisting on some peculiar “honorific”. It’s my actual, legal name.

        Comparing it to someone insisting on being called Dr XXX when they’re not a doctor is absurd. As is the rest.

      3. Joielle*

        Can you just accept that, regardless of your personal feelings about Ms., there are a LOT of places (probably the vast majority of places) where it is very well understood and widely used? This is nothing like calling someone Dr. when they’re not, or using an honorific from a different language. Wherever you live appears to be stuck in the 50s. Take this as an eye-opening moment and broaden your horizons instead of insisting that everyone else in the world is wrong.

    3. Mynona*

      In many cultures in the United States it is disrespectful to address a married woman as anything other than “Mrs.” Specifically, I’ve experienced it casually in working-class communities, especially of color–and I’m not even married. It makes me sad not because I was called the wrong salutation but because I’m white and I know it comes from a place of low-income people of color being taught to be respectful to white people out of fear. It strikes me that OP comes from a culture where she gets to choose what she wants to be called–that’s not a universal experience in the US.

      If these are the clients who regularly mis-address OP, she shouldn’t assume they are mis-addressing her out of malicious intent. Also, is OP really there to “teach” them the “right” way to address her? Maybe it depends on the service context? Maybe the OP should consider whose rules she wants to enforce in her interactions with her clients?

      1. MsNotMrs*

        LW #2 here: Yes, it is part of my job to teach the clients the “right” way to do things.

      2. Grapey*

        I get what you’re trying to say but it sounds infantilizing to suggest that certain demographics don’t want to or can’t learn to use someone’s preferred titles if that’s a hill OP chooses to die on.

        “Also, is OP really there to “teach” them the “right” way to address her?”
        Yes, absolutely everyone gets to choose how they are addressed.

    4. MsNotMrs*

      LW #2 here, thanks for the validation. The young man that I had the “I don’t understand” conversation with was Native, which (at least in my neck of the woods) is a culture that has a different relationship with honorifics than my culture (white Midwestern) does, and could also potentially mean that English is not his first language/was not spoken at home. For example, a lot of Native children around here call their teachers “Teacher” instead of “Miss” or Mrs. Lastname. So I do believe in that situation, he DIDN’T understand, and I took the question in good faith. And he has changed how he addresses me since then, so I definitely feel that was a productive conversation overall, for both of us.

      1. Reba*

        Oh, interesting! this and your above comment change my thoughts on this. I was coming in to say that I felt you have standing to correct coworkers, but that I’d let it slide with clients….

        Could you wrap it into a lesson about formal/polite forms of address, and use yourself as an example? Many people may need to be taught about “Ms” as the comments here attest.

        But I still think there may be a limit on how many times you can correct or insist.

        I’m also married, no name change and passionate about it. But over 7 years I’ve chilled out about mis-titling quite a bit.

        1. MsNotMrs*

          Yeah, I’m a newlywed and also quite new to my industry, so even though I’m pushing middle age, it’s something that only recently came up to me and I’ve been a little unsure of how to deal with it. A few of my girl friends also didn’t change their names when they got married, but none of them are in workplaces that require titles, like mine does.

  18. Arya Parya*

    I was taught this back in the day too. I was lucky enough to pick up the Ms thing on the street.
    Still all baffles me though. In my native language we don’t have different titles anymore for women, just the one. So everybody uses that one. (There is one for unmarried woman officially, but it fell into disuse in the sixties or so.)

    1. Snark no more!*

      Thank you for a different perspective! I’m really curious now about what that title is. Care to share?

  19. Anon2525123*

    Dear LW #1: If you do NOT have everyone in the scene’s permission, the scene is OVER. Commitment jewelry is somewhat borderline in indicating an active scene, but if it is a straight up collar and not passing jewelry that is for YOU and your partner(s?) knowledge? You are dipping into some hard consent issues. ESPECIALLY when there are underage people involved.

    If you want full time display of that relationship, get some vanilla jewelry for public use that you and your partner agree on that is worn when not in scene, then switch to the private collar when IN scene. There are a TON of options that are discreet and can easily pass, but (I really hope I am misreading your intentions here) the tee-hee, “I am getting AWAY with something!!!” tone (REALLY HOPE I AM WRONG) carries aspects of a scene being played out in terms of flirting with exhibitionism. As a teacher, it is NOT OK to pull your private scene into a public arena where you have an unequal power dynamic over those involved.

    I get wanting to show (but not show) the ownership aspect of your relationship off, but you need to think super hard about why you want to show it off HERE and want to push the discovery boundaries. Have an honest talk with yourself and partner(s?). RACK is between you and them, and you need to be super careful not to drop into dragging non-consensual participants in.

    Boundaries are important for everyone involved, and you 100% have my sympathy because current circumstances have made all kinds of boundaries fuzzy. This should not be one.

    1. Banana Banana Banana Orange*

      This is how I feel about it – thank you for this comment Anon2525123!

      There are soooo many other options to show your commitment to your partner(s) that don’t involve wearing a collar in front of children you have responsibilities towards!

      Please OP#1 take a step back & consider why this feels like an ok option to you? Because it’s not at all.

    2. Not All*

      This is extremely well said.

      I used to be active in the kink scene and this would have been absolutely off limits, to the point a couple doing this would have been kicked out of the club as a hug liability to the other few hundred members.

      Even too obvious a piece of jewelry will get you busted by savvy observers. I figured out one of my former coworkers was in that type of relationship about a week after she got her new necklace. You never, ever know who else is in the room during video meetings and will see & screenshot.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I think of CSI every. Single. Time. I see your screen name. This is not a bad thing.

    3. Djuna*

      Yes, and because those boundaries are fuzzy, it’s dangerous to blur them still further. Many people have written here asking how to set real boundaries between working/not working time when working from home.

      To me, there is a minor point in here for LW#1, to accompany the bigger points you and others have made, and that’s that collar off=at work, collar on=not at work. It’s a very simple formula.

    4. Alianora*

      Thank you for saying this. It makes my skin crawl to think about any of my coworkers doing this with such an obvious collar, let alone a teacher in front of their students.

    5. Alice's Rabbit*

      I tried to delicately cover this, but thank you for stating it so clearly. By law, children cannot consent, so any attempt to involve them is out of line. Especially as a teacher, OP1 should know better.

    6. anonanna*

      Yes!! These are children (we’re assuming) and I think it’s weird that LW wants to wear it in front of them. Maybe it’s just that they’re now in “oh we can do this 24/7” mode? But still… yikes.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        To be fair, one can do it 24/7 without collars and such. We do. His chain bracelet is as close as he gets to a collar, and he takes it off at night because he sleeps in wrist splints. We just consider it 24/7 because our interactions are always fundamentally conscious of the fact that I’m in charge, and that colors everything we do even if that’s only to our selves.

        All the more overt black leather and he doesn’t sit on the furniture stuff is all very well in fantasy or at most for the length of a weekend, but real life has people with back problems and food allergies and bosses whose requirements have to come first if you want to earn a paycheck.

    7. un-pleased*

      Imagine if the parents of one of her students participated in the same kink (or even not!) and were watching the video chat! Lots of parents check in on students during calls or are just off screen.

      Speaking as someone who knows college faculty who are planning for fall, I wonder, too, as school districts consider whether or not they can go back in-person during the fall and in which circumstances, if there won’t be an emphasis on re-shaping remote learning to be more thoughtful and less response to emergency. This is not a good habit to get into, because if she has to teach remotely going forward, the expectations, standards, and oversight will only become greater, not less.

    8. Anon4ThisQuestion*

      This, all of this.

      Here’s just 4 options you could try:
      Wrap that collar around your leg, where no one can see it under your clothes.
      With your partner, buy a simple pendant necklace that you both know has meaning, but isn’t obvious (stay away from eternity collars or other stuff like that, it’s always obvious).
      Get a bracelet, maybe one of those Tiffany style charm bracelets – but don’t put any kinky charms on it!
      Make a ritual out of taking off and putting on your collar before/after work.

      If you continue in your current pattern you will get in trouble and you risk outing your partner and friends. (people will assume everyone you know is in the same scene when you get outed, and at the very least they’ll b defending themselves- it happens a lot more than you would think) Please think very carefully about why it is that you are taking this risk for yourself and others. I get that collars bring a sense of security and safety, but there are other ways to gain that which don’t endanger your career and your loved ones careers.

      1. Annony*

        If wearing a collar on your neck is important, you could also try wearing a turtleneck shirt or a scarf during the video chats.

    9. Ray Gillette*

      Yeah, I’m getting a “Teehee I fooled the normies” read from the letter, and I’ve seen similar references elsewhere in the comments here too. I would have a lot more sympathy for someone saying “It’s just a piece of jewelry, why should it matter,” though the answer would remain the same. Yeah, it’s ridiculous how much scrutiny teachers are subject two with regards to their personal lives, but this isn’t the answer.

  20. 867-5309*

    Op2, when I got married, my mother had the audacity to keep referring to me – verbally and when sending letters – as Mrs. Husband’s Last Name, even though I made it clear to all friends and family that I was not changing my name and wanted to continue to be called Ms. She replied that she was my mother and it was her prerogative. I about lost it. I take serious issue with the fact that men’a martial status is not known by their name or how they are addressed, but women continue to be.

    That said, I agree with Alison that the audience is everything here. I’ll correct someone (or I would, divorced now) but depending on the degree of ongoing engagement with them and the relationship we need to have, sometimes I just rolled my eyes and moved along.

    1. BookishMiss*

      Yep, I stayed Ms, and my MIL pulled the same thing. Now her entire family does it. I fought it for a while, but in the end it wasn’t my hill to die on. My spouse talked to her about it a few times, and her answer was basically “but her name is loooong,” which, yes, but… If I’m feeling snarky, I’ll mail her things addressed to Mrs FIL’s Name (Mrs Edward Rochester), but that’s the extent of it now.

      If you’re curious, the hill to die on is “please don’t use this one food you real like but makes me ill.” Not malicious, just forgetful, but that’s where my In-Law Relationship Spoons go.

      1. Annony*

        I would be tempted to mail things to Ms. Maidenname. I probably wouldn’t do it since it would stir up more drama which most likely wouldn’t be worth it, but I’d be tempted.

        1. bleh*

          Yep, my in-laws did this and I had to put my foot down. Just write b-l-e-h last name (we picked a new one – imagine how that went over). Look ya’ll – no title at all necessary.

    2. Ali G*

      I took my husband’s last name, but I do not let our parents, or anyone refer to me as Mrs. HusbandsFirstName LastName. I have my own name dammit!

    3. MsNotMrs*

      OP #2 here: My best friend’s mother does the same thing! The kicker is, best friend’s family name is two letters (like Ti) and her husband’s last name is akin to something like Galifianakis, difficult to spell/pronounce. What a lot of wasted effort.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I didn’t change my name when I got married and my mom does this all the time! She’ll send me mail to Mr. and Mrs. Fergus Jones, and when I point out that’s not my name, she’ll say, “Oh but you’re married that’s your formal name.”

      Then when I point out that my husband has a PhD, and if she’s being formal, we should be Dr. and Mrs. Fergus Jones, she says, “Well he didn’t go to medical school so he’s not really a doctor.” So the rules really only apply when she thinks they do.

      1. blackcat*

        I got a wedding invitation for my cousins wedding that was addressed to Dr. and Mrs. HusbandFirst HusbandLast.

        I wrote over other text on the response card to write in Very Large Letters

        DRS Black Cat and HusbandFirst HusbandLast (I did not change my name and we both hold PhDs).

        If you’re gonna give one of us credit for the PhD socially, give us both credit, dammit!!

    5. Oldbiddy*

      Do we have the same mother?!?! Mine was already elderly when I got married and it was only on letters etc, so I give her more of a pass than I would otherwise, but I still remind her every time it happens. In contrast, my in-laws have never once forgotten.

    6. WS*

      I once asked my grandmother (born 1916) why she addressed letters to my mother as Mrs Dadfirstname Dadlastname, and she thought it was the law! She didn’t like it, because she herself was divorced, way back before the days of no fault divorce, but thought that it was compulsory for married women! She was thrilled to learn that she was allowed to address letters however she pleased.

  21. Sir Lena Clare*

    Yes Right?
    Collars can be absolutely discreet and like ‘normal’ jewellery (a bracelet or anklet or watch or tie for example). There’s no need for it to be leather with a big ring on it. Rolls eyes.

    1. Nea*

      I’ve been reading AAM long enough to remember the last discussion of collars at work; there were links to some lovely day collars that looked like any other jewelry.

      Whereas if it’s not shoes, jacket, or a briefcase/bag, it probably shouldn’t be leather at work.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Honestly an anklet is probably perfect– unless OP is a PE teacher or maybe something like kindergarten, because those are the only way I can imagine feet showing up on a video call.
      If the video call is strictly headshots like most businesses zooms, no one will ever see the anklet. Assuming no fire alarm of course.

  22. Gaia*

    although I’m not married, I’m at an age where people tend to assume that I am. I get called Mrs a lot and I correct them every time. And I will continue correcting them if I ever get married. I am Ms not Mrs and my marital status should play no role in my professional life.

  23. A Mrs (but here it's a Ms)*

    As a foreigner whose mother tongue has no Ms, I have to ask: do people call you (general you) Miss when you’re over 25 and unmarried? Where I live (not Anglo Saxon country) we’re all Mrs in the professional world, and it’s in most fields considered obnoxious to call a woman Miss professionally even if she’s young.
    It’s more what some service people call women to make them feel young (rightly or wrongly). Many Mrs are unmarried.

    For the state and administrative purposes, it’s the Miss that is slowly vanishing, so Mrs will indeed become the new Mr.

    I’ll probably make more of a point to call US women I interact with by email Ms, though (although US people in my field switch to first names by the second mail so it hasn’t really come up).

    1. A Mrs (but here it's a Ms)*

      And nobody has ever asked me ‘is it miss or mrs’? I would interpret it as flirting.

    2. Eliza*

      My experience is that in contexts where people call each other by last names and someone hasn’t specified a title (which aren’t actually all that common, now that I think about it), most people default to Mrs if they know someone is married or Ms otherwise; Miss would be somewhat unusual for an adult woman unless you specifically know she prefers it. The English-speaking world is a big place, though, so there’s probably a lot of regional variation.

      1. Washi*

        Huh, my experience is that if someone hasn’t specified a title, people default to Ms. for women. I don’t think I’ve ever been called Mrs verbally, though it has happened once or twice in an email. (I’m in my late 20s and married.) Even in high school, when teachers would occasionally use title+last name to be silly or get our attention, they used Ms.

        Maybe it’s an east coast thing!

    3. MK*

      Also from a not Anglo-Saxon country that has no Ms., and that has been my expierience as well. For more than a decade, I have heard no one refer to a woman, however young, as Miss, except in a joking manner addressing very young (younger than 10 years) girls, and even that is slowly dying. And “Is it Miss or Mrs?” wouldn’t get interpreted as anything other than joking flirtation, though I doubt anyone would seriously flirt in such an unsubtle way.

    4. TechWorker*

      I think when I first started say opening bank accounts a) not everywhere gave ‘Ms’ as an option and b) ‘Miss’ seemed less weird cos I was only late teens/early 20s. I now use Ms in general but things that I’ve never got around to changing or that are going on say previous ID I’ve provided still use ‘Miss’.

      Mrs has a strong connotation to being married though so I don’t use it in general (though all our neighbours assume we’re married). My mum has been divorced for 15 years (after being married for ~25) and never changed her name back/still uses ‘Mrs’.

    5. Quoth the Raven*

      I’m from a Spanish speaking country (Mexico); we don’t really have “Ms” either (though I default to using that over Miss or Mrs. when I’m addressing or writing to an English speaker, unless I know what their preference is).

      Off the top of my head, down here, women would be called by their professional title, which is not necessarily the same as their position in the company (“Good morning, Doctor / Architect / Engineer / Esquire / Bachelor), which also happens in writing (so I’d get something like “Engineer Quoth the Raven”, for example). This also applies for men, too. And in other fields people be addressed by their first name, mostly, especially their your superiors. And YET there are others where the line between Miss and Mrs. is drawn at how young or old a woman looks, or the assumption they are (not) married.

      The one field I can think women will be addressed as Miss First Name, regardless of their marital status, is when teaching Kindergarten and Elementary school (not Middle or High School).

      1. Batgirl*

        It’s funny how many countries are saying that only teachers are called ‘miss’ since that’s the default name for female teachers in British schools. Even if you’re Mrs Brown or Ms Grey and everyone knows that, your shorthand name is still Miss, just as male teachers are called Sir, rather than Mr. Even staff members call each other Miss; a godsend if you’re a supply teacher who doesn’t know anyones name.

        1. TechWorker*

          Tbh we weren’t allowed to use ‘Miss’ at our school, we had to use names. I think part of the justification (which I agree with!) is that ‘sir’ is pretty deferential/respectful whereas ‘Miss’ is pretty much not – so it’s a bit sexist that that’s what we default too! (Also in the UK)

          1. Anonieme Nederlander*

            Dutch woman here. Male primary school teachers are Meester – which means Master. Female primary school teachers are Juf – which is short for Juffrouw, which was the form of address for young unmarried women until a few decades ago. (And is etymologically derived from ‘jonge vrouw’, young woman).

            I don’t know if it makes it better or worse that this is likely due to the fact that until 1958, married women were by law forbidden from public sector employment like government services and schools – they were automatically fired the day they got married. (Though there was never such a law for the private sector, this was common in the private sector as well – one company was considered very progressive when it announced that due to labour shortages, women would be allowed to continue working until they got pregnant.)

          2. Batgirl*

            It’s strange you say that; its considered respectful in my circles! *shrug*. Whereas first names wouldn’t be.

            1. TechWorker*

              Sorry when I said ‘names’ I meant ‘Mrs Smith’ or ‘Mr Jones’. Our teachers would tell us off if we called them ‘Miss’, along the lines of ‘I have a name please use it’

              1. Batgirl*

                Oh gotcha. Wow, full title every time you address them? I work in pretty rough schools where a single syllable is sooo useful. “Miss! Fight!”

                1. MsSolo*

                  My school was a Title+Surname school (including Madame for the French teacher and Dr for anyone who had a doctorate), and my sister’s was Miss/Sir – I think you might be on to something in terms of ‘roughness’. I feel like the distinction is respecting the teachers as professionals vs respecting them as authority figures?

                2. TechWorker*

                  Haha, yeah I went to an all girls school with a grand total of 2 physical fights I was aware of in the 7 years I was there… (plenty of bullying but not many fist fights). The boys school down the road I think did use Miss and Sir. (Certainly plenty of posh schools use Sir, less certain on Miss…)

        2. Ginger Sheep*

          Funny indeed! Here in France, preschool/kindergarten and elementary school teachers are addressed as Maitresse/Maître (Mistress/Master), secondary teachers as Madame/Monsieur (Mrs./Mr.) (independently of marital status), and university professors as Madame/Monsieur as well. It really weirds out my American friends living here that their kid talks about their Master but that my students call me Mrs. instead of Pr. or Dr. !

        3. Asenath*

          I just posted that we used that system here. We must have gotten it from the British!

    6. Jen*

      Also not in an Anglo Saxon country, and Mrs is essentially the default. Miss is only used for young girls, by women who want to specifically call out the fact that they are unmarried and by people trying to compliment you (I get called “miss” all the time because I look younger than I am).

      Personally, I do wish we had a “Ms”, because I still feel weird being called “Mrs” and for me it still does imply “married”… but truth be told, titles are used extremely rarely, so it’s not truly an issue.

    7. Amy*

      I never changed my name. So while I don’t correct people, Mrs Smith married to Mr Jones seems odd. I’m Ms Smith.

    8. PhysicsTeacher*

      Yeah, they do. A couple years ago we got new standardized nametags on our doors at my school and all unmarried women got turned into Miss [Lastname] even if they were in their 50s. I didn’t speak up, but it did get around to our school secretary that I hate being Miss and she changed mine to Ms.

      When kids call me Miss, it’s whatever. They don’t know any better. When adults call me Miss it feels like a tactic to infantilize me and not take the things I’m saying seriously.

    9. Laura H.*

      Verbally it seems to not matter as much/ the pronunciation never is quite distinct- what matters a lot is that I use a title at all… If corrected, absolutely I’ll make the changes.

      Is the verbal “nonspecific” tendency a norm or an outlier?

    10. JSPA*

      This is complicated because, by the classic formal rules of address in English, if Jane Smith is married to John Doe and takes his name (but keeps her maiden name for work usage), any of the following are correct ways to address her (though some are sexist / old fashioned):

      Mrs. Jane Doe
      Mrs. John Doe (yes, really! Though now usually only for cards addressed to, “Mr. & Mrs. John Doe”)
      Ms. Jane Doe
      Ms. Jane Smith

      Not correct, per classic style rules:
      Mrs. Jane Smith <–the closest approximation to the default form in NL and DE

      Any confusion would come up if Jane Smith's mother is also Jane Smith (Mrs. Jane Smith). But of course, it's no more confusing than if Mr. Doe's father is also John Doe, so that both his wife and his mother are Mrs. John Doe.

      Newer style sheets seem to accept Mrs. or Ms. interchangeably for a woman "over a certain age or married." (Which leaves Miss to mean, "unclaimed meat here, guys," or something????)

      Miss is also sometimes used (colloquially / regionally / subculturally) with a first name, as a sign of esteem.

      Lucy and Francine may both be great grandmothers, and very firmly married, but still be addressed as Miss Lucy and Miss Francie. This is entirely separate from any other honorifics: "The recipient of the activism award is Dr. Francine Brown. Known to generations of community youth as 'Miss Francie,' her example has been…"

      1. Nina*

        It gets even more confusing if you use a slightly old-fashioned, very location-specific formality:
        If Jane has an older sister (Joan), then before her marriage, she would have been referred to (but not written to) as Miss Jane, not Miss Smith. Joan would be Miss Smith. Unless you wanted to refer to both of them, in which case you would say ‘the Misses Smith’.
        If John has an older brother (Jack), then he is not known as Mr. Doe, but as Mr. John, and Jack or their father is Mr. Doe. When Jane marries John, she becomes Mrs. Jane (or John) Doe, but is referred to as Mrs. John. Jack’s wife is Mrs. Doe.
        You would write to Jane before her marriage as ‘Miss Jane Smith’ and refer to her as ‘Miss Jane’.
        You would write to Jane after her marriage as ‘Mrs. John Doe’ and refer to her as ‘Mrs. John’.

        I’m so glad we’re past most of that now.

  24. Casper Lives*

    OP5 it’s very annoying. Since it’s different recruiters, I don’t see how you can stop them. Recruiters don’t like to lead with the name of the employer sometimes so you won’t go around them for the job.

  25. Amy*

    OP #2 – I found this really interesting since “my” culture is very different about these things. It didn’t know there was a difference between Miss and Ms. since we don’t have an equivalent to Ms. in our language. We have:
    Frk. (Frøken) An unmarried woman
    Fru (Frue) A married woman
    Hr. (Herre) Which is like Sir or Mr.

    But we stopped using these titles some time ago. It is still considered polite to use them with (some) older people, but even in the professional world it is very common to use first names. At the same time it is also relatively normal not to change your name when married or perhaps even take the wife’s name. My brother and his wife both took his middle name and her last name, because they liked it better and both wanted to have the same last name as their children.

    1. AlNotTheOneandOnly*

      Totally agree, I have been going to client sites for over 20 years, the simplest way is to use the persons first name when dealing with them or and I have to say I use this all the time…is not to call them anything at all. A simple “oh excuse me, could you just…..” bypasses the need to name someone.

      1. JSPA*

        First name only is problematic in the US due to the history of racism, where black people in particular (and sometimes other minorities) were called “boy” or “girl,” and refused the use of an honorific, while being expected (possibly at threat of lynching) to use “Sir” and “Ma’am” and last names, to white people. Because the person who took offense if black people broke the code could be some random bystander, it wasn’t safe for two individuals of mismatched race to come to some other agreement (or at least, not a “we’re on a first name basis” agreement) if someone else could overhear. Thus, the only safe way to signal mutual respect was for both people to use honorifics.

        Of course, that’s where the pernicious use of “a gentleman” to mean “a black man” (short for “negro gentleman”) comes from. This is a horribly loaded term (which should not be used) and carries the implication, “a black person who wants to be treated with respect as if he were white” (thus saying far more about the person using it). I found this out by using “a gentleman wants to see you” to mean “[respectfully] a man.” The person I said it to was confused: “there was no gentleman out there!” and the person I said it of, was offended…to be called a “gentleman.”

        For similar reasons, someone (maybe a Brazilian, used to calling “Oi, menino/a” calling out, “hey girl” or “hey boy” to a child can get an incredibly angry response from the child (or the parent), depending on their relative perceived races. (“hey child” or “hey kid” is fine, or at least, not racially-loaded).

        So much bad history settles, barely hidden, into language, and so much of language is code.

        1. Anono-me*

          Thank you for sharing your experience with the negative history involving the word ‘gentleman’. I was unaware of it.

    2. Phoebe*

      I work (not in the US) in health, as a health professional – so lots of Drs, as well as young and mature women. Everyone is called by their first name. It would be very strange to call someone Ms, Mrs, Miss, or even Dr. Oh, and Drs here don’t wear white coats!

    3. Matt*

      In German we have “Frau” (literally “woman”) or “Fräulein” (literally a diminutive “little woman”) – the latter being the equivalent to “Ms.” but today widely viewed as extremely old-fashioned, something that would only be used by the 80 year old granny next door anymore. “Frau” is like the English “Ms.” to be used for any woman no matter what their marital status.

  26. Unironically Think of the Children*

    OP #1, I am also a teacher, and a very kink-positive GGG person, too. What you are suggesting is horrendously inappropriate on so many levels that I genuinely question what you are doing in this industry.

    Please, consider what you’ve said. Do you realize how inappropriate that is? Not to mention, I’m quite sure it violates official dress code policies for your district.

    1. JerryTerryLarryGary*

      All of this. It would be rude in an adult-only workplace, but questioning whether sexual exhabitionism is appropriate in front of children is wrong. It’s not a question, the collar isn’t subtle because you don’t want it to be, not covered by a scarf or turtleneck because you want it to be seen. Not okay.

  27. ThisGuy*

    I’m a guy who leans towards the bottom in my romantic relationships, so some of my girlfriends have put a collar on me from time to time. It’s never occurred to me to wear one in public, let alone at work.

  28. Autistic Farm Girl*

    OP1: i’m actually surprised about the question being asked… again. There’s at least 2 other letters (from the archive) with the same type of question. If you wouldn’t do it when you’re physically in school, then don’t do it now. Working from home/having virtual classes isn’t a free pass to do anything and everything.
    You wouldn’t show up to teach your kids in underwear, and i’d class a collar as something just as intimate as underwear.

    OP2: i’m now at the point of my life where my outside-of-work world starts to default to “Should i write Mrs on the form?”. I don’t think so no.

    Ever since moving to an english speaking country I’ve been Ms, and I plan on still being Ms after I get married (and we’re double-barrelling, shock horror, i’m sure there will be some whiplash from the shock). I always correct people, every single time. Maybe i look petty (probably) but it’s a matter of principle. Ms isn’t just for widows and divorcees anymore, it’s for anyone who wants it, and the more we use it the more normal it will be.

    I believe that there shouldn’t even be miss/mrs/ms. Men don’t have that, because no one gives a flying duck about them being single/married/divorced. It should be the same for women.

    1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      Ms. was never for widows or divorcees, at least not exclusively. I was around when Steinem et al invented it, started using it immediately, as did many other young women I knew. It was *always* used as an equivalent to Mr. I’ve been Ms. for nearly 50 years through single and married, and have never been widowed or divorced.

    2. tired&*

      I thought Ms (for an older woman) or Miss (for a young woman) was predominately for unmarried women with the exception of a divorcee. A widow would still be addressed as Mrs.

      It’s all very silly and Mrs should be eliminated altogether from professional life. If people have a personal attachment, they can opt for it but it shouldn’t be the norm. How can you even know a client or professional is married via email anyways?!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It has a long history from somewhen like the 18th century, was picked up in 1901 to be the exact equivalent of “Mr.” , and went mainstream in the early 1970s.

    3. So not using my regular name here*

      Just as an FYI; if you’re in the USA, unless the name is stereotypically “spanish-sounding”, most people will default to hyphenating a double barreled last name. Or they will drop one part of it or treat the first half of your last name as your middle name.

      You will also encounter “fun with forms” with a double barreled last name. Many forms and computer systems in the USA do not allow for a space in a name.

      I have a double barreled last name that is not generally perceived as Spanish and it is either chopped in half, or hyphenated, or smooshed together almost daily. Other people I know with similar double barreled last names, have shared that they have this same issues. (My friends with spanish-sounding double-barreled last names have said that they seem to have less trouble day-to-day except with the forms and computer systems.)

      Also congratulations!

      1. Adultiest Adult*

        Oh, I identify with this comment! I started hyphenating my own double-barreled last name around grade 4, because otherwise people kept dropping one of the names, and although my parents did not hyphenate my name originally, they insisted that I use both. These days, it’s hyphenated on all my legal forms, so I couldn’t revert if I wanted to!

  29. So Not The Boss Of Me*

    In the UK there’s a TV show where people appear completely naked and one other naked person chooses one for a date. The audio (discussions of body parts) alone would never air in the USA, let alone the video. The professions given range from tradespeople to accountants and many other client-facing jobs, including care giver and teacher. Preschool teachers too! US born and raised, I’m gobsmacked by this. No, OP, if you’re in the States, please don’t wear the collar. I wouldn’t care is I were a student’s parent, but someone will. I’m sorry.
    On YouTube the show is listed under adult films or something, but it’s not titillating for me. I watch episodes where non-heteronormative folks appear. I learn a lot that helps me be a better ally without someone bearing the burden of teacher. I haven’t seen anything with collars yet. I still have a lot to learn.

    1. TechWorker*

      To be clear, teachers can also get sacked for their private lives in the U.K. too – I know what show you’re talking about and also find it utterly bizarre. We’re not exactly open with nudity in the U.K. in general so I would be surprised if none of those folks had any professional blowback.

      1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

        Thank you for telling me that. Good to hear the UK perspective. I stumbled on it because I live in various countries where I don’t speak the language. On winter evenings I just need something to watch. In English, so I know what’s going on. But I do tell at the TV a lot. “Don’t pick him, he’s going to play you.” Can’t understand why they can’t see it.
        The people always say it’s such a great way to pick a partner, but the interviews weeks later show it’s a terrible way to do it!

    2. MsLipman*

      I’m British.

      Yeah, that show is considered pretty stupid and exploitative here, but it’s not looked on as porn or anything. We don’t have the same culture of Puritanism. (Though still a dog collar on a teacher would be unacceptable.)

      1. Anon326*

        Agree Ms Lipman – it’s considered a ‘WTF?!’ show, but it’s more of an end-of-the-pier curiosity rather than porn.

    3. UKDancer*

      I know the show you mean and it is a guilty pleasure of mine. I think in the UK going on that show may lead people to question your level of common sense (because it’s considered deeply tacky) but I don’t think nowadays most people would consider it made you morally unfit to do certain jobs as a result. It’s an amusing gimmick but that’s it I reckon.

      I don’t think we have the same culture of censuring teachers for being on facebook with a glass of wine (which boggles my mind personally).

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. Most of my friends who are teachers don’t use their full name on Facebook, but that’s mainly because they want to have a private life – as they’re entitled to do – and they don’t want to have to deal with having students trying to find them and add them as a friend. No one is going to call for a teacher to be fired because they’re spotted drinking a glass of wine in public, or because their Facebook profile includes photos of them with a drink in their hand, or whatever. Teachers are people with lives like anyone else.

        1. Grace*

          A teacher did leave my (all-girls) school not long after someone spread around photos of her doing burlesque (from what I gathered, she had them on her Facebook under her real name, a parent looked her up (?!) and the daughter overheard her say something about the photos and looked them up herself) but it was never clear whether she was fired, left of her own accord, or was already planning to not renew her contract for the following year, since it happened in July and she just didn’t come back the following September.

          Drinks etc certainly aren’t a problem, though – I remember saying hi in passing to teachers at the pub or restaurant multiple times.

          1. UKDancer*

            I’d be surprised if she could be sacked for doing burlesque in the UK especially in the state sector. I’m not a lawyer but that would probably constitute unfair dismissal as I understand it and she’d probably have a pretty good case for a tribunal. Also most schools are too desperate for good teachers to even try.

            I’d say it’s more likely she felt embarrassed and left or got another job elsewhere.

            1. Batgirl*

              You can be, if not sacked, parked on gardening leave as a teacher in the UK for this; there’s a social media use clause in the contract of every school. In fact real life ‘hen party pics and pole dancing’ examples were given to us as a very specific ‘dont do this’ in teacher training before they let us set foot in a classroom. It’s happened. The year before us, two students had failed to qualify because they were having a drink on the beach and agreed to pose for a picture with passing students. Everyone accepted it was totally innocent! But it looked bad. It contravened the social media guidelines, caused a shit ton of teen gossip and compromised the school’s reputation. Oh and UK comprehensive schools are desperate for cash not teachers – which means driving off experienced teachers and recruiting cheaper, less experienced staff who nevertheless still have to know not to drive away the parents and the cash that generates with poor social media usage.

      2. Doc in a Box*

        I’m in the US (in a pretty conservative state) with several teacher friends across the country, haven’t heard of them getting blowback for social media photos where they have a glass of wine? Several of them will post things like one of those comically oversized glasses captioned “Grading time!” — likely with privacy settings set to friends only, but these days, everyone but “influencers” seems to have gotten the hang of privacy settings.

        I can see US parents getting hyper about their child’s teacher being photographed in a nightclub or something, though.

      3. MsSolo*

        It’s definitely a fun gimmick, and I like it because it doesn’t judge anyone’s body despite the whole concept being, well, judging bodies! The emphasis on saying something positive about everyone even as they’re being eliminated helps normalise different body types and the conscious choice to include diverse trans, disabled, older, and modified bodies breaks away from conventional ideas about attractiveness to empower people. I think there isn’t enough variety in nudity on telly, and the show is one of the few positive depictions of it.

        Still a bold choice to apply if you’re a teacher, though!

    4. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

      I am from the UK and regardless of the show, all the comments re: collar would apply here too (and we also have strict safeguarding requirements that relate to anyone that works with children or vulnerable adults in any capacity, schools, healthcare, activity groups, any child friendly etc etc).

      1. UKDancer*

        Oh definitely, you’re quite right on the collar. That’s blatantly unacceptable where children might see it in the course of your professional life and potentially a safeguarding issue.

        I think there’s a difference between that though and appearing on a naff late night dating show and doing burlesque which are things that children would have no business doing and constitute your private life.

        1. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

          Yeah sure – would have no idea about show and how burlesque is seen (I love burlesque, learnt but never performed), just responding to stuff about collar and a framing in terms of how that in particular would be dealt with in terms of UK.

    5. Amy*

      We have quite a few shows that fall into the vein in the US too – “Naked and Afraid,” “Dating Naked” etc.

      1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

        The diff, Amy, is that they are pixelated on those US shoes. No pixelating on this show in the UK. Personally it bugs me. Either show them naked or give them something to cover up with.

  30. tired&*

    >I sometimes wear a collar as part of my fun relationship with my partner.

    I’m confused on why you would bring this into the workplace…is this some kind of kink that you are involving others in? I would be uncomfortable if it didn’t look like very much like a fashion accessory…which is kinda doesn’t.

  31. Marvel*

    As someone who is also very kinky and spends a lot of time with a collar on in the bedroom: WHY are y’all always trying to wear your collars in the world’s most inappropriate situations? I do not understand.

    Please just save it for private contexts??? Like. Am I missing how this is in any way difficult?

    1. Courageous cat*

      Hahaha. Well said and no you are not missing anything. Folks, it costs you nothing to err on the side of caution and keep your private life private.

  32. Queer Earthling*

    You know, five minutes of googling for collars will find you actual discreet day collars that look like normal necklaces (not “kinda like,” but “actually like”). So I’m wondering if you’re kinda enjoying the mild exhibitionism/shock value of writing into AAM about your super obvious collar?

    But in case it’s a real question, once again: please do not.

    1. MAB*

      This is exactly what I was thinking, and exhibitionism is a form of kink, so if this is the case, she is making non-consenting students a part of her sex life. Not cool.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Also making us, the Ask A Manager forum, an unconsenting part of her kink. Not okay.

          1. JSPA*

            We’re also “consenting,” in that we read the headline, chose to click, chose to click on the link of the (supposedly non-obvious but blindingly obvious) collar, etc.

        1. Batgirl*

          This is a strange complaint to make after reading the whole thing and the comments too. We have a lot more power to engage/disengage than her class would.

  33. Database Developer Dude*

    Regarding LW#5,
    It’s obvious to me the OP had previously applied for the position and not been offered the job. Based on that, there’s got to be SOMETHING that can be done to stop recruiters contacting them. It’s not right and the LW shouldn’t be expected to just roll over and accept being constantly contacted for a job they’re never going to get.
    If it were me, I’d write directly to the company’s HR and say something to the effect of “I interviewed for this job on X date, and you did not select me, but I keep getting contacted by recruiters for the position anyway. Please put me on your ‘do-not-contact’ list for this position”.
    Seriously, why should LW accept having their time wasted?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That doesn’t work if it’s external recruiting firms, which is the impression I got from the letter. If your LinkedIn profile or resume on a job-searching platform contains certain key words, they will pop up in searches by people from multiple organizations. Happened to me this week.

      It is highly likely the contact is not coming from the company that’s hiring.

    2. TechWorker*

      I mean I imagine the only actual way to stop recruiters from contacting them would be to remove any contact details from the public domain. I don’t think there’s any requirement whatsoever for a recruiter or company to maintain a ‘do not contact list’ – it likely simply doesn’t exist as a concept…

      1. Lyudie*

        Recruiters will keep your contact info in their database so if you’ve worked with them before (or even just talked to them) you might still hear from them.

      2. irene adler*

        There is one other way: let each of these recruiters submit your resume to their client. Don’t give the recruiters any indication that you’ve interviewed for their client.

        The client will recognize that they’ve already interviewed -and rejected- this candidate. Might even get testy over the recruiter wasting their time submitting a candidate they’ve already rejected (“Don’t you screen the candidates before submitting them to us? That’s what we pay you for!”).

        Recruiters don’t like to do things that upset their clients. So they will probably make a point not to contact the OP ever again.
        Hence, the recruiters are now off the OP’s back. For good.

        Strongly suggest NOT doing this. It will burn a lot of bridges. Down the road, such antics might be regretted if one should encounter any of these recruiters when job hunting.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      Unfortunately, having your time wasted for any number of meaningless reasons is one of the tradeoffs of living in a society. “Accepting having your time wasted” is basically a requirement if you are job hunting. If this is really bothering them, the OP could stop answering the phone and delete their LinkedIn. It sounds like the OP is actually a good fit on paper for the role, since they interviewed already, so it makes sense that they’re being contacted.

      If they’re external recruiters, I doubt HR cares enough to put together a list of people to not contact, and I doubt that external recruiters care enough to consult that list. At least in my experience, many bad external recruiters care very little about your qualifications, experience, location, etc when reaching out about jobs. Even a good external recruiter may think “well, maybe the applicant has changed their mind, and maybe the company will finally fill this role!”

  34. Part Cheesy*

    OP you’re giving proof that we create our own problems in life. Why is it so important to you that you wear this collar around others – especially when the result of them noticing will end your job and career?

    One reason is that you want to get away with something and feel victorious for doing so.

    The other reason is you want to get caught and enjoy the self-righteous outrage that will come with others judging you.

    Be reasonable and stop sabotaging yourself.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      I think you hit the nail on the head. Every workplace has its particular prifessionsl standards and dress code. Some are lax while others are strict, some are very conservative while others are completely bizarre. Most are unspoken, though some are ridiculously detailed. But they exist.
      And teachers have very strict consequences for ignoring their dress code. So either OP wants to flirt with danger and pull the wool over people’s eyes, or OP wants to be caught. For the latter, it could be to enjoy the outrage of trying to claim the moral high ground, or it could be a continuation of the issues that lead some subs into that role – an unhealthy desire to be punished.

    2. Batgirl*

      I don’t think the motives are that extreme. You get really tired playing a role as a teacher and, though it’s the job, you’re just as tired as if you’ve been on stage. Being at home, wearing my own clothes and own face and speaking my mind is luxurious. I could step back into role quite easily if i were going back in, but from the sofa its harder. My advice to the OP is to treat the collar as an off duty signal to herself.

  35. hiptobesquare*

    #2. Don’t even get me started on “Miss” as an alternative. That said, even when I taught I still convinced the kids to call me by my first name.

  36. Luna*

    #2: I have to ask, given that you are married, aren’t you automatically a Mrs? Regardless of name change. I live in Germany, so we tend to not distinct between Mrs and Miss from a certain age onward, it’s always “Frau” and can work for both.

    1. Asenath*

      I expect it varies by region, but in my part of Canada, married women haven’t been automatically addressed as “Mrs” in decades. The title is still in use, and you can choose it on forms, but fewer and fewer women seem to use it.

    2. Ferret*

      While I can’t speak for everywhere that’s not true for Mrs across most of the English speaking world. It was always reserved for married women and rather than trying to broaden the usage to make it apply to all women over a certain age people decided on Ms as the non-specific alternative

    3. MsNotMrs*

      LW#2 here: No, you are not automatically a Mrs. in US English when you marry. It’s generally reserved for women who changed their names, which I did not. When in doubt, best practice is to default to calling a woman “Ms.”

      1. Nevercomments*

        I’m in my late 30’s in the Midwest and don’t understand this confusion over Ms. I’ve always known it’s the equivalent of Mr. I’ve not run into anyone older than a child who has trouble with this concept. Doesn’t anyone remember Ms. Magazine?

        However, I have to disagree with you that Mrs. is only for a married woman who changes her last name. I’ve never heard that. If you are married you are automatically a Mrs. – I use Ms. for everyone. I recently ran into a few women who insist on being called Mrs. and I find it out of touch and seriously antiquated.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          The Mrs. goes hand in hand with the name change because it doesn’t just mean “am married”. “Mrs. Lastname” means “married to Mr. Lastname” so if I were to go by Mrs. MyLastName, it’s weird because I’m not married to someone with my last name (unless I actually were).
          Ms. avoids the whole thing. Tells you I’m female. Tells you my last name. The end.

        2. AngryAngryAlice*

          It is completely untrue that you are automatically a Mrs if you are married. I’ve also only ever heard of married women going by Mrs if they change their name. As a married Ms myself I am not and never will be a Mrs, and my mom (who also kept her name and goes by Ms) is an English professor who confirmed for me that your understanding of every married woman automatically being a Mrs is incorrect.

          Not to mention the fact that Mrs exists to signify she is possessed by a Mr (“Mr’s”), which is only applicable in marriage between a man and woman. Are you saying that all married women who are married to other women are also Mrs? Because that would be incorrect in two ways, not just your original one.

    4. Wandering*

      When I was in school in Montreal PQ & in Paris, I was generally corrected to call any women who looked to be adults “Madame” with the very occasional correction by women religious who insisted on “Mademoiselle” if you were uncomfortable with “Soeur” (Sister). Generally “Mademoiselle” was used for girls up to finishing high school.

      Wish we were more general in those ways in the US.

      1. A*

        Agreed. It being tied to marital status versus age is what complicates things (and grosses me out).

    5. JSPA*

      No. Mrs. is a) always optional and b) traditionally is never used with the maiden name, only the married name (if one takes a married name).

      JSPA is my maiden (and only) name. Mrs. JSPA was my mother. I was “Ms.” from the moment I started using “Ms.” (age 15 or so) and have remained Ms. through two marriages and zero name changes.

      Mrs. ex-spouse-name was ex-spouse’s mother. Mrs. spousename… That’s a trick question, as that family isn’t english-speaking, and doesn’t follow the same rules, so I suppose it’s one of spouse’s sisters and was also spouse’s mother.

      The point of ‘Ms.” is that all of this complexity is entirely immaterial! As it would be for Mr.!

      Which it should be, as my spousal situation is 100% irrelevant to 99.999% of my non “family & close friend” interactions.

  37. Not Alison*

    Sorry if this is addressed above but I haven’t read all the comments yet – – what is the honorific that is supposed to be used for people who are nonbinary? Thanks in advance.

    1. Grace*

      People tend to use Mx. these days I think? Pronounced “mix”. It’s the one I see most often on drop-down lists.

      Since reading Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series and seeing “M. [Surname]” as a non-gendered honourific for everyone, I’ve been more of a fan of just dropping gendered honourifics altogether.

      1. JSPA*

        M. is gendered (Monsieur) in french, and is used (untranslated) by enough french or pseudo-french personalities and show people that it could be a little perplexing.

        (I always wondered how “M. Butterfly” could be considered to have a plot twist, given that the twist is exposed in the title.)

    2. AnonLibrarian*

      There are several. Mx or M. seem to be two of the more popular gender neutral titles but there are others used in different parts of the world.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      “Mx”, pronounced “Mix”. Hoe does one pronounce “M”? Is it literally just “Emm”?

      1. Quill*

        I’ve heard M as “muh” and “meh” and any sort of thing that is basically the M sound (not EM, but how M is pronounced in a word) and as little else as possible.

        It’s more intuitive if you have some idea how to pronounce Mme. and other french style abbreviations that make the M sound as brief as possible. But I never did learn much french past that, and I never learned how to write out a formal address in my actual second language, spanish, that wasn’t “Señor o Señora,” so I default to Usted (formal you, non-gendered, think Vous or what You actually was when Thee was familiar,) even if I’m in a casual enough atmosphere that people will understand if I intentionally de-gender my nouns and adjectives.

        (Example: Ustedes son Latines? [Are all of you Latino/Latina/Sorry about grammatical gender in spanish but the at sign was proposed to make adjectives ungendered and then it became known that screen readers hate it, Latinx is easy to type but has it’s own problems, but most people in casual conversation when I use them online will know that Latine and Latinx aren’t typos.)

  38. MAB*

    OP#1, I don’t want to speculate on your motives to not take your collar off during video calls with your students, but you might want to review advice from Dan Savage and others on the boundaries of public kink and making others a part of your sexual rituals unwittingly, especially when it comes to minors. Even if no one noticed the collar, it’s still not okay.

  39. TimeTravlR*

    OP3 – please don’t hang anything on a “better title.” Titles really are meaningless other than as a way for your employer to label positions.

  40. Nicole*

    I find it very surprising that we keep seeing questions from people in the master/servant lifestyle regarding titles, collars, etc. It seems to be the “fetish” people are most eager to take outside of their private lives and I don’t understand it. A fundamental part of these types of relationships is consent; when you take your collar or title or what-have-you into the world you are then involving other people in this lifestyle without getting their consent first. I for one don’t want or need to know what kind of kinks my coworkers have, and I think you underestimate the ease of which the collar could be identified in today’s internet age. Case in point, I already knew what it looked like before clicking the example link included.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I can’t speak for the OP but I think for some people part of the fun is letting others know what part you play. Ideally that’s only in consensual contexts but for some having a token of your status that other people in public settings can see is part of the thrill.

      1. Anon*

        The thing is, that’s violating someone’s consent because it gives you a thrill. Which isn’t okay.

    2. Mx*

      And when it’s not your ‘lifestyle’ but part of your identity, like LGBT people ?
      LGBT people wouldn’t be accused of showing off their lifestyle when they don’t hide their sexual identity from the public.

      1. Batgirl*

        Well, that would involve hiding a person, not a dynamic or the relationship’s personal details. A better parallel would be discretion about having an open marriage or a single person having strong religious beliefs about abstinence. Those can all be part of your core identity, but your personal life is personal and often NSFW. I get that kinky people are villified and that sometimes the objection is genuinely “ugh kink” and people are yukking your yum. Other times though it’s just simply that it’s too personal and could just as easily be an objection to a vanilla couple’s baby talk.

      2. we're basically gods*

        Please don’t contribute to the oversexualization of LGTBQ identities by conflating them with kink. Kinkiness cannot be separated from the act of sex. A person telling you that she’s a lesbian tells you absolutely nothing about her sex life. The same person saying she’s a bratty sub tells you *a lot* about her sex life.

      3. AIM*

        Because gay/lesbian/bi/trans ISN’T a “lifestyle.” Me saying I’m a lesbian tells you literally nothing about my lifestyle or my sex life. I could vote left or right; I could shave my legs or not shave them; I could work at a LGBT nonprofit or a prison; I could have slept with just men or just women or both and everyone outside of those labels or I could be a virgin with no plans to change that. Anything you assume about those areas of my life from simply “I’m a lesbian” is just that– an assumption. Whereas a collar TELLS onlookers that you enjoy domination/submission play, whether in a sexual way or otherwise– it actually telegraphs part of your “lifestyle.” (And what’s more is that’s what it’s SUPPOSED to do– it is a literal symbolic representation of said dom-sub relationship, whether just for yourself when worn under your clothes or for other people when worn in a visible way.)

        Also, why why whyyyyy do straight people always jump to this argument, when if “I’m gay” was a bold pronouncement of one’s sexlife, “I’m straight” would therefore be just as much of one? Same for mentioning a girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife– if it was a flag for I HAVE GAY SEX from a queer person, surely it would be just as much of a flag for I HAVE STRAIGHT SEX from a straight person, yes? Why, in this hypothetical, did you only consider that it would/should only be LGBT targeted by that train of thought? (Which actually DOES happen, by the way, so the “LGBT people wouldn’t be accused of…” comment is tone-deaf on multiple levels.)

      4. DarnTheMan*

        Hi. LGBT person here who’s entire LGBT identity is predicated around the sheer amount of not-sex/sexual or romantic attraction I have. Please don’t lump kinksters in with us – you can be cis and hetero and kinky or LGBT and kinky but being involved in BDSM is in no way the same thing as your sexual or gender identity.

  41. Auga*

    And now after clicking that link, I am suddenly getting ads for collars on websites…despite Google claiming I have opted out of tracking. :-(

  42. Scarecrow*

    OP 1: Please don’t. And if you teach rather tech savvy kids, assume you have already been screenshotted and turned into a meme or featured in a snap story.

  43. NotInMyBackyard*

    Dear OP1, believe me, kids notice EVERYTHING. I’m in education, I’ve been teaching online classes and my students notice everything, from ‘why aren’t you wearing glasses’ to ‘you cut your hair’.

    Do yourself a favour and don’t. What you like to do in your personal life is fine, but keep it personal and not in your classroom.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yup! The little monsters notice everything! And spread it around for shits and giggles. Some even purposely try to get teachers in trouble.

      It would be nice if people didn’t care about this crap, but if you value your career at all just don’t wear it.

  44. AnonLibrarian*

    The OP says:
    “In my personal life, I sometimes wear a collar as part of my fun relationship with my partner.”

    That communicates to me that the OP *is* involving students in the relationship with their partner.

    Wearing the collar *is* involving the children, without their consent, in the relationship with the partner.

  45. IcicleToes*

    My mother didn’t change her surname when my parents got married, but I have just my father’s surname. I remember my primary school constantly sending letters/reports to Mr and Mrs [Father’s name] [Father’s surname] which I always thought was so rude! My mother had filled in her details when we registered with her correct surname, clearly the school administration was so backward they could not fathom that my mother could have a different surname! I think we told them to change it multiple times!

  46. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #3 – definitely talk to you manager. You would sound tone deaf if you went in and just asked when your promotion would take place. But as long as you acknowledge what’s happened over the last 3 months, and let your manager know that you understand if it can’t happen right now, it’s perfectly fine to ask. And it’s also okay to ask for a timeline. Your manager may not know when the promotion can happen right now, but agree to a follow up date to revisit.

  47. Occasional Irene*

    Re: Q#2: I’m a cisgender woman so I might have the wrong of this, but I would say “identify as a woman” rather than “identify as female” (in your response, Alison)

  48. FormerFirstTimer*

    That link you provided looks nothing like any kind of traditional choker I’ve ever seen outside of a goth club/heavy metal concert. If you wouldn’t wear it to teach in person, don’t wear it to teach virtually. There are far too many people who will label you as deviant and you could lose your job and/or your teaching license.

  49. RobotWithHumanHair*

    OP3: Yeah, definitely don’t assume the promotion is still happening. In February, I was promised a raise and then a substantial bonus after our team contributed to the most profitable month in the company’s history in March.

    And then I got furloughed at the beginning of April. Everything changed.

  50. MissDisplaced*

    4. New job wants me to start getting certifications before I’ve even started
    Are they paying for these via a corporate account login? Or do they expect you to pay and then be reimbursed?

    If they have a corporate login, I think I’d really try to begin at least one course before you start as it might be something critical to your success, but I’d ask them which one they feel is most needed. So you could ask: “My time is somewhat limited as I’m still wrapping-up things at my current job, but I might be able to get started on one of these. Can you suggest which certification is most important for me to know?”

    If they’re expecting you to pay for the certification, and then get reimbursed, then I’d wait until you start. Because I just never like that companies expect you to pay for these out of pocket if it’s part of your training.

    1. Quill*

      Also, if completing the certification isn’t a prerequisite for the job, they’d better be paying you for that training time.

  51. Khatul Madame*

    Certifiable LW (that’s 4, not 1 if you were wondering) –
    In addition to Alison’s advice, check your offer letter. In my work, based on client requirements, we may include a contingency for getting a particular certification within a stated period of time – 6 months is featured most often. So LW, see how long your offer gives you to get certified, and use it in your response to the new employer:
    “Per your offer letter, I have X months from my start date to obtain the certification. Due to commitments at my current job, it is not possible to me to begin studying now, but I will start the process as soon as I join Your Company on (date).”
    If there is no such clause in the offer letter, omit the first sentence or use Alison’s script.
    Also consider that study and exam fees come from your own pocket and you won’t be reimbursed if you spend them before you start.

    1. JSPA*

      OP 4:

      If it’s a certification where the timing is open-ended, and if you’re not already clear on exactly how much time to budget (as some trainings can take an hour, and other training can take weeks or months), I’d research them in some detail (or start the process on weekends to get a sense of how it goes for you) and let the employer know the situation:

      “I can only budget 2 hours a week [or whatever] until my current job ends on [date]. Based on [whatever information], it looks like these certifications will take about X hours at least, and Y hours at most. I can start them before I onboard, and should be able finish them all by [date], assuming that I can use [# hours per week] of my time with you to work on this.”

  52. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Can I wear a collar now that we’re on video?
    Absolutely, positively, not. You will get fired if anyone twigs to it. Depending on the fuss you may not easily get rehired, either.

    I mean, you can wear one IF potentially getting fired is a part of your kink–there’s nothing illegal about it and it’s just a collar. But I encourage you to think long and hard about that outcome and the long term consequences, before letting it be driven by your partner.

    2. Should I keep correcting clients who call me “Mrs.”?
    If you care: Yes, it’s perfectly appropriate.

    4. New job wants me to start getting certifications before I’ve even started
    How long are we talking? If it were me: if it was less than 8 hours total and I can do it online self paced after work, I’d try to squeeze it in. It’s a new job and nice to start on the right foot. I’d make them pay for the course, though. You can make your own call.

    If it’s a ton of work I’d make them pay me or give me specific benefits (another week of vacation) in compensation, but I’d still try to do it since I like new employers to like me.

    But if you can’t, you can’t.

    Also, consider what it IS: Training in some piddly custom program that is useless everywhere else? Or certification in something w/ global use, where they are paying an expensive course fee?

    Legally, they may have to pay you for it if they’re making you do it. Practically that’s up to you.

  53. Eleanor*

    LW4: if you can’t push back on doing the courses before you start, see if you can get compensated for your time! I was given readings before I started a job once and was told to keep track of how long I spent on them. The company policy was any lieu time was time and a half, so I ended up getting an extra vacation day out of it.

  54. Paralegal*

    Ugh, #2 immediately takes me back to an old job where the attorney I worked for refused to use “Gendered titles” in a backward attempt to seem inclusive. And please don’t take this as me saying that’s a bad idea – it’s not, but it’s not was he was really doing. He insisted on using “M.” as a title for absolutely everyone – we’re in Canada, where “M.” indicates “Monsieur”. He even insisted that anyone who called him “Mr.” was being sexist…. * eye roll *

    He was an idiot. I’m glad I don’t have to keep writing letters that look like I typo’d the first word anymore. I would keep pushing back, LW – now that I’m married and took my husband’s name, I also push for Ms. whenever I can.

  55. *daha**

    When my grandmother was a teacher, she would not have been allowed to wear a wedding ring. That is because married women were not allowed to teach, and teachers who married while still employed were terminated. My grandparents kept their marriage secret for a year so that she could go on working, and then had a public wedding. Afterwards, she was recruited by a group of teachers to be the plaintiff or complainant in a suit against the schools. This was in New Haven, Connecticut in the early 1930s.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      There are still positions where one is contractually forbidden to marry. For example, the cadets at Annapolis and West Point are not allowed to marry until after graduation. They are immediately expelled if they get married before then. If they keep said marriage a secret, it will lead to court martial when the facts come to light.

      1. Observer*

        So? What point are you trying to make?

        There are very few positions where this kind of requirement makes sense, to start with. It’s even worse when it’s only the women who would get fired for getting married.

        This is actually relevant, because the reason that women teachers were forbidden from getting married was because school boards were worried that the teacher might get pregnant, and the HORROR of children being exposed to an actual pregnant woman! And, although this was never said outright that I know of, everyone realized that the kids would probably notice that before the school board or parents, so the children might end up being “exposed” before the school board could “protect” then.

        In other words, OP, everyone knew that KIDS NOTICE STUFF.

        1. Starbuck*

          Wow, that seemed oddly hostile. I think the point was just that it’s a bizarre rule, and weirdly it continues to this day? I knew about married teachers getting fired in the past, but I didn’t know that about cadets! I don’t think they were trying to argue with the first comment, just giving an example beyond 1930s Connecticut.

  56. A*

    #1 made me a bit uncomfortable because, in addition to the points Alison and commenters have made, it also raises some deeper questions. The fact that OP is aware that it is generally not appropriate, and took this ‘opportunity’ to ‘sneak’ it in 24/7 comes across, to me, as playing into a fetish. Which between them and their partner is completely fine, but I am a firm believer that it is wrong to force others to play into it (even if it is unknowingly).

    A million times more so because of the children. Yikes. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this didn’t read as just a ‘oopsies, I honestly thought it was completely ok!’ situation to me.

    1. Employment Lawyer*

      Eh. I say this as a fairly vanilla person: I don’t think that is accurate. If it’s just something they wear then it’s not really ‘forcing others to play into it” at all.

      After all, it’s not like OP is asking them to call the OP “Slave” or something odd. It’s just an accessory, it’s not inherently sexually provocative, and nobody else needs to “play into it” one way or another.

      Does it lead to the possibility that someone is more likely to think (in some way) about “sex-and-the-OP” if they figure out what it is? Sure, I guess. But, um, don’t we sort of assume that most partnered adults are doing the deed? What do you think a wedding ring implies?

      Sure: because it’s a collar (versus a wedding ring) there is social risk due to the less-standard nature. But adults have sex (even teachers who are supposed to pretend otherwise) and in actual fact it isn’t like they’re playing some odd game with folks.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        I disagree. This is totally unacceptable behavior on the scene. You do not involve any person without their consent, and yes, wearing a prominent dog collar is involving them. It’s not a wedding ring. All a ring tells me is that you are or were married. A collar gives me specific details about your sex life, that I neither want nor need in the workplace.
        Involving minors in your kink is so wrong, I can’t properly articulate how distasteful it is without insulting the letter writer’s intelligence.

        1. Employment Lawyer*

          [Shrug] I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          I respect (and protect) the right of folks to claim that they have made up a set of rules which everyone must follow, whether those folks are left or right; flexible or as morally stringent as the Handmaid’s Tale. I’m an equal opportunity free-speech-ian, I don’t only protect the speech that I like.

          But simply telling me that some group of folks defines consent one way is “special pleading,” because–of course–one could easily find other groups of folks who define all sorts of things in different ways, yes? And of course you DO NOT want to be told what to do in YOUR life, or that what YOU do is wrong or that what YOU do must be promptly stopped because someone has not consented to YOUR favorite thing and you therefore can only do it at home. Right? I mean, who would want that? Nobody I know, surely not me.

          Trust me when I say that in my career I have met plenty of folks who want it to be fireable for non-skinny women to wear anything other than baggy shapeless stuff. (It’s always women. Just like here. Nobody ever bugs men on this dreck. Even in this thread, it’s all about her. Do ya notice that and, perhaps, feel a bit odd? You should.)

          “Yes,” you might say, “but MY position is different because….”

          And there it usually stops.

          Assuming you don’t think women should get fired for having visible-through-clothing breasts (I don’t) or men for having long hair or muscular chests (though nobody cares about men unless they’re POC, most of the time): What’s your explanation? Do you think you can seriously come up with a cogent and cohesive philosophical basis for why it’s OK to do one thing instead of another other than “because because?” I doubt it: That problem (like most expression and speech issues) has stymied philosophers for centuries. I sure can’t. It’s part of why I try to let adults do adult things.

          Sure, there are exceptions for things which are SERIOUSLY outside the social norm. But sex? Consensual sex between two adults? Even if it’s mildly kinky? That isn’t even a close call. Hell, the New York State health folks just advised folks to set up physical sex barriers, a/k/a gloryholes for chrissakes.

          If you don’t want to see collars, move somewhere that folks don’t wear collars, and hope for the best. Because conservatism isn’t often perfectly aligned, as many folks find out too late.

          1. we're basically gods*

            We’re talking about a woman because the person who wrote in is a woman. This has literally nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with the fact that it is absolutely unacceptable to share that much information about your sex life with strangers, much less *minors*.
            If a man wanted to do the same thing, it would be just as inappropriate.
            This comment is an uncharitable and rambling pile of goalpost moving nonsense.

          2. Ethyl*

            Are you seriously arguing that it’s ok to wear a dog collar that the LW explicitly said is part of her sex life with her partner to tech *children* is ok?

            There’s having an open mind, and then there’s having a mind so open your brains fall out.

          3. EventPlannerGal*

            What? What are you even talking about? Why do you think that spreading out your pile of strawmen over nine paragraphs makes you sound intelligent? Come back when you’re ready to have the discussion that everybody else is having, not the one you’re having in your head with absolutely nobody.

          4. Armchair Expert*

            “If you don’t want to see collars, move somewhere that folks don’t wear collars, and hope for the best.”

            Yes, this is definitely an appropriate argument for a teacher to make when in loco parentis to actual children, for sure.

      2. A*

        “What do you think a wedding ring implies?”

        I encourage you to reference the thread higher up where this is discussed and it is explained in detail how very, very different these examples are.

        We can agree to disagree, but I stand by my comment. I don’t think it’s the same as actively forcing participation in an interactive manner etc., but yes I do think this is involving the students even if they are unaware. There are many other explanations in this comment thread that speak to this perspective, perhaps those are better at explaining it than me. But make no mistake, I’m not alone in my opinion boat.

      3. Squirrel or Chipmunk*

        As someone mentioned in another comment, a wedding ring represents the existence of a family unit, not a hierarchy. It is not apples to apples.

        OP is absolutely included the classroom in said ‘fun relationship’, why else would the line be blurred if OP knows it is not appropriate? Either way, it’s not appropriate even if you disagree with that specific reasoning.

      4. Crabapple Pie*

        Could not disagree more. Classroom is a captive audience, OP is doing something they know is not appropriate but is choosing to do so anyways in light of working from home. If it wasn’t bringing bedroom preferences into the classroom – why is it now in the classroom?

      5. EventPlannerGal*

        Well, I think it’s a pretty arguable point that a human woman wearing a dog collar is not provocative. But I think the fetish being played into here is not really the collar itself but rather some level of exhibitionism. The question has a vibe of “ooh do you think I could get away with wearing this to work??”, like the OP/her partner find it exciting that she would be wearing it where people could theoretically see; they’re just assuming that the low quality of the video will obscure what it actually is.

  57. MsNotMrs*

    LW #2 here–thank you so much for these comments, all! I had NO IDEA that there was such confusion over the use of “Ms.” as a catchall for all women of any marital status. I guess I thought it was more common knowledge than it actually was. I live in the Midwest, so this honestly doesn’t come up that often (as others pointed out, we don’t do honorifics much in this region), but it’s basically mandatory to go by one’s title and last name at my workplace, so this is really the first time I’ve ever encountered it in a widespread way.

    It’s definitely not the people who initially assume I’m a Mrs. that bother me–it’s the people who keep doing it even after being corrected. Not to go into too much detail, but a lot of the clients I’m seeing are my clients because of things like domestic violence, rape, and similar offenses, and my workplace emphasizes that we need to be setting good examples for them to be able to operate in society; polite correction is not an overstepping of my bounds. It’s a high-stress position, and I deal with a LOT of sexist microaggressions. So it’s good to get some perspective that this isn’t just about people subtly disrespecting me as a woman, but truly comes down to a difference/misunderstanding about what different titles mean.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think its smart to assume good intentions. Been a Ms for eons and more people get mixed up than understand it.

  58. stubborn drs' daughter*

    My mom is a Dr and gets annoyed when people at work call her Mrs., not to mention “auntie”, “sister”, or their equivalents in a variety of languages. I would totally insist on Ms.

  59. drpuma*

    OP2, I would lean on your coworkers rather than your clients. If your coworkers are good about consistently introducing you as “Ms. OP2,” I bet new clients especially will pick up on it and address you likewise. If that’s what they always hear, that’s what your name will be.

  60. Lucette Kensack*

    The very fact that LW 1 wants to wear her collar at work (with children, presumably), is the explanation for how wildly inappropriate it is.

    She actively wants to engage her colleagues and/or students in her kink. (If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be toying with the sexy little game of whether to wear her collar at work.) That’s beyond unacceptable. Your sex life is yours and your partners’. You don’t get to involve other people in it without their explicit consent.

  61. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

    #1 Already happened at my neice’s charter school. An older student (4th grade?) made a joke that her teacher “likes to pretend she’s a dog at home,” and then some parents noticed. It wasn’t an issue. Kids are going to make fun of anything and make it silly and inappropriate, whether they’re ballpark or not! The admin/ parents responded with “well of course thats silly, weirdo,” didn’t give it much creedence or shock value, explained to the kids that teachers are people too and have lives other than teaching – and can wear whatever they want at home! (Within reason, “don’t zoom naked” of course!) And right now with lockdown (this was a few weeks ago) that clothes or jewelry she may not wear to school she can certainly wear for a zoom call. The admin made it a non-issue. It really only involved her class and some older siblings making weird jokes. I was amazed it even got back to the school admin and it was very “Well that’s just what Ms. Teacher wore today!”

    I wonder if her teacher had drastically changed her hair to “danger hair” cut and dyed it if the commenters here woukd also judge? (Of course not, I’m just making a point.)

    I don’t think she was asked, but a “Just my jewelry today! Now onto those multiplication tables…” response if she were asked is an appropriate response to, frankly, an inappropriate line of questioning (her appearance.)

    Quite a lot of judgement from commenters about not understanding and but whhhyyyy. And jumping to not trusting a teacher that would wear a certain style of jewelry. Aren’t we passed judging people by their appearance in 2020? Oops, not in all circles, I guess. Seriously, who needs to understand to just myob?

    No one has to understand. It’s intrusive and weird to assume or ask about a fet relationship. Why is the teacher’s sex life taking up any real estate in anyone’s minds to begin with? It’s comical to think of parents that are so obsessed.

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      Maybe it ended okay for this teacher, but you don’t know what was said to the teacher privately. Even if it doesn’t seem like there was any effect, the teacher may not be asked to come back in the future, or if they ever want to get a different job, their recommendation may be tinged with “Well, there was that one time she wore a collar on a Zoom call…”
      Just because we shouldn’t judge people for their appearance or extracurricular hobbies doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Ignoring that reality shows poor judgment, and for a teacher that isn’t a good look. Purple hair is one thing. A piece of jewelry that has obvious and blatant connections to sex is a different thing entirely.

      The concept of BDSM and sub/dom relationships is way inappropriate for younger aged kids. Adults have the maturity to ignore/accept that kind of thing, but most kids will not understand, and we all know that kids have little sense of “intrusive and weird” questions. It’s not okay to bring up concepts that parents may not want to discuss with their kids at this age.

    2. Delphine*

      Your point isn’t well made, colorful hair isn’t in the same ballpark as a sexual kink.

    3. K*

      The word “jewelry” is being really generous here – the example provided absolutely looks like a collar for a dog or the kind of situation LW1 is in, not any other kind of fashion statement.

      I am happy that the teacher you mention did not get into any trouble, but she was VERY lucky and I would not encourage LW to test their luck.

      Also, as many commentators (including kink-savvy ones) have mentioned already, wearing a sub collar around people (children!) who did not consent to be part of LW’s kink practices is getting into potentially gross territory. Even if that’s 100% genuinely not LW’s intention at all, that is the perception that some people will have. It’s just not a smart thing to do.

    4. Alianora*

      Terrible take. Don’t involve other people in kink without their consent. Especially minors!

    5. andy*

      > I wonder if her teacher had drastically changed her hair to “danger hair” cut and dyed it if the commenters here would also judge?

      Not sure about other commenters, but my kids had teachers with tattoos and bright colored hair. I dont see it equivalent to bdsm collar.

    6. Oh My*

      You most likely don’t know the full story with the teacher at your nieces school, at best your version is 3 layers out. This would not have went well at an public elementary school, or most charter schools. There is no way the principal, Parents in the class, and PTA was not notified or that there was not formal action of some kind. I’m not even going to go into the rest of your comments being skewed.

    7. BonnieVoyage*

      1. I would be very surprised if that is the whole story. I’m sure the school would want to be as minimal and matter-of-fact about it as possible with students and parents, but you don’t know what was said to that teacher privately or what other consequences there will be for her further down the line.

      2. I don’t think anybody is judging the OP by her appearance or judging her because she enjoys D/s. People (including a lot of commenters who are BDSM practicioners themselves or are knowledgable about it) are judging her desire to bring a very obvious signifier of her D/s relationship into a classroom setting.

      3. I don’t agree that teachers can “wear whatever they want at home” in this context. She isn’t just “at home”, she’s *working* from home, on camera, with children. I know quite a few teachers who are doing this right now and (I know because we have discussed it) they are dressing basically as they would on a normal school day but a notch or two more casual – jeans instead of trousers, for example, or teachers who normally wear makeup not bothering. The same goes for pretty much everyone I know who does client-facing zoom calls for work.

    8. Alice's Rabbit*

      You don’t know the details, nor can you state the consequences yet. The school year is just ending. Could be that teacher’s contract won’t be renewed next year (or whenever it expires, which might be a few years yet). That teacher might be denied merrit raises. She certainly won’t get sterling references. And I can guarantee punitive measures were taken behind the scenes. Including likely having an administrator drop in randomly on future video chats, without warning.

    9. A*

      I don’t follow how this is an apt comparison to OP’s situation. I’d recommend you consider taking a step back and reflecting, sometimes when you are in the vast minority it can indicate an update in perspective is needed (not always of course, but sometimes).

      I also encourage you to read the other comments upthread as it is discussed at great length why this is different from ‘just jewelry’.

    10. Observer*

      Your first paragraph explains EXACTLY what is wrong with the OP’s question. The OP claims that “no one will notice”. That is TOTALLY not true! A 4th grader noticed it!

      And, the OP knows that in their school, they can’t get away with it – they explicitly say so.

      So it is either totally a matter of trying to get something over on the school / students or a teacher who is totally oblivious to what kids are actually like.

    11. Starbuck*

      “It’s intrusive and weird to assume or ask about a fet relationship.”
      It’s intrusive and weird to broadcast your fetish to students.

      ” Why is the teacher’s sex life taking up any real estate in anyone’s minds to begin with? ”
      Why is the teacher showing information about their sex life to their students?

      Just, so much yikes.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Exactly. Nobody’s “assuming” anything about LW1’s sex life, LW1 is choosing to broadcast it with a *very obvious* signifier. I hate kink-shaming and I strongly believe that whatever happens between consenting adults (including teachers) is nobody’s business, but it’s pretty hard to argue people shouldn’t talk or think about your sex life when you’re wearing a sign that says “I enjoy D/sub play and BTW I’m a sub”. Nobody needs to know that, especially minors/people you have authority over.

    12. Batgirl*

      “Seriously, who needs to understand to just myob?”
      You should totally try that line with your class when you’ve overshared, lost their focus and are struggling to get them back on topic.
      Teenagers are totally well equipped for knowing what is and what isn’t their business so they can focus on themselves and the work. I’m sure you’ll nail it simply by saying so.

    13. Anon*

      “It’s intrusive and weird to assume or ask about a fet relationship. Why is the teacher’s sex life taking up any real estate in anyone’s minds to begin with?”

      The teacher’s sex life is taking up real estate in real estate in people’s minds because the TEACHER brought up the subject in the first place by wearing fetish gear to work. What’s intrusive and weird is wearing fetish gear in front of children you’re paid to safely educate because it’s part of your “fun relationship.”

  62. Anonymous*

    OP 1; as much as I am kink-positive and open to different lifestyles and hope that the world realizes there are more flavors in the world than just vanilla, there are also people out there who see things that are different as scary and bad. I would hate for you to lose your job because someone misinterpreted the symbol you were wearing around your neck. If you need to have a physical symbol of your commitment to your partner, then go for an anklet or a bracelet or something that can be hidden from view. Better to be safe, especially as an educator.

  63. Wandering*

    Re the first letter: don’t wear the collar. Don’t do anything that shows or implies to those you supervise & for whom you are responsible, or to your colleagues, that you are submissive. Separate & apart from the other connotations, this is what leapt to my attention.

  64. Sharon*

    I’m not married. I’ve never been married. I am constantly referred to as “Mrs.”, maybe because I’m nearly 50 and no one can comprehend that someone that old would be single?

  65. Cheluzal*

    2: Go into teaching. All of your “clients” will holler “miss!” at you all day. I usually respond with “student!” but it’s not worth a bigger fight.

    1. MsNotMrs*

      I think this is very culturally specific as well–as I mentioned in another comment, when I was teaching on a reservation, I was almost exclusively called “Teacher!” instead of Ms/Mrs/Miss.

    2. Batgirl*

      I like being Miss. I wasn’t expecting to; my first teaching job I was Firstname, but I do. Students say it with such genuine regard. They always check my proper title for the front of their books too.

    3. LutherstadtWittenberg*

      It’s worth it to many, though I’d be dandy just going by my surname.

  66. Jillian*

    In reference to number 2, whenever we get decide to get married my name will rhyme, very Julia Gulia, there’s a part of me thinking about going by Mistress after just because it’ll sound even more ridiculous. But I also correct people every time they call me Jill, and telling people the rhyming coincidence is the easiest way I’ve gotten people to do it right.

  67. Choggy*

    OP 1 Why not wear something more mainstream than a collar, like a collar necklace so you still feel the effect of it but looks less threatening to others?

  68. WantonSeedStitch*

    A big tenet of the BDSM community is the idea of keeping things “safe, sane, and consensual,” with the corollary that involving people outside your kinky relationships in your kink in any way without their consent is REALLY NOT COOL. If when you read the old “coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her master” post you thought, “ew, that’s not cool,” then neither is this. If people can look at your collar and *not recognize it as a collar*, it’s different. There are some really pretty pieces of jewelry out there that can serve as a good work-appropriate collar. Look up “discreet collar” on Etsy. If your partner wants you to wear a collar at all times, LW #1, talk to them about getting one of those. It can have exactly the same meaning for your relationship as the collar you have now. Heck, you could even create a little ceremony of collar changing every day, like a kinky version of Mr. Rogers with his sweater and tennis shoes. Now I’m regretting that metaphor.

  69. Observer*

    #1 – Allison is right that teachers are often held to ridiculous standards. But this is a different ball of wax. There is no reasonable way you can do this. You are teaching and visible and there really is no room to argue that “anything goes” just because it’s on Zoom. Sure, you may not be as perfectly coiffed, because you need to get to a hair stylist. But you still shouldn’t be getting on the call with bedhead, right? This is not different.

  70. Lady Heather*

    Several good points have been made about that LW1 should not wear a collar while teaching children. I’d like to add one more – or counter any ‘kids might not recognize it’ arguments.

    Whether or not kids will recognize it isn’t a reliably indicator for whether or not it shows good judgement. Not even ‘whether or not kids will be traumatized by it’ is a reliably indicator for good judgement.

    A teacher failing to successfully hide a bulge in their pants doesn’t indicate good judgement.
    A teacher mentioning to kindergarteners that they’re staying in a domestic violence shelter because their partner hit them doesn’t indicate good judgement.
    A teacher using double entendres and innuendos that students don’t pick up on doesn’t indicate good judgement.
    A teacher sharing too much medical history isn’t showing good judgement.

    Don’t wear the collar, LW1. At best an adult will find out and privately question your own judgement – at worst an adult will find out, assume you’re a predator, and apply that label to the entire community.

  71. Nox*

    Restrained grace has beautiful day collars that are incredibly well made and look like regular jewelry

  72. Woman of a Certain Age*

    I’m single, but because I’m not young, I frequently get called Mrs., which irks me. I don’t wear a ring, I never introduce myself that way. The most recent time was correspondence from a new doctor’s office that started out with Dear Mrs. Teapot. When I replied, I said it was Miss or Ms. The reply came with Dear Mrs. Teapot. I repeated again until she addressed me as I asked.

    Why is it so hard for some people to call others what they wish to be called?

  73. Some Lady*

    #2 – I had an intern who was very diligent about using Mrs. for our married contractors, the same way she was about using Dr. for those who had a doctorate. She was coming from a place of wanting to respect people’s titles, and her past work, mostly in churches in the south, had very clearly given her the impression that that was how you showed respect. We were like…hmm…no that is not what we do here (which she respected, too–she was coming from a good place).

    I work with young people and have found that high school students are the most likely to call me Mrs. (I’m unmarried, engaged, have no plans of changing my name or ever going by Mrs., having my marital status used like that feels super icky). I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I never personally get Mrs. from anyone older than 21ish.

    1. Teacher in a Bind*

      It’s coming from their high school teachers. It’s amazing how many teachers introduce themselves as “Mrs.” even if they have a doctorate! There’s something about education where advertising a husband is still a thing in some areas.

      1. Some Lady*

        I thought it might be that! It was certainly the case for me in schools growing up, but less so in the schools I was in when I was a teacher, so I wasn’t sure what the norms were more generally.

  74. RS*

    I’ll chime in on OP #1’s letter to point out that FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) regulations may be implicitly involved here, if the OP’s partner is present while she’s interacting with her students via video call. See Scenario #4 that starts on slide #18 https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/sites/default/files/resource_document/file/FERPAandVirtualLearning.pdf

    The takeaway is: OP’s partner shouldn’t be in the vicinity when she’s teaching. Everyone realizes that this isn’t always possible for teachers who are living in small shared spaces, but in that event every precaution should be taken to comply as much as possible. FERPA outweighs OP’s partner’s authority.

    1. sal*

      I didn’t see anything indicating this was in question. Presumably OP went into work before the pandemic without their partner following them, and I would assume they are still keeping professional boundaries.

      1. RS*

        Right, OP wasn’t wearing her collar when she was teaching in-person in the classroom, and obviously her partner wasn’t present in those circumstances. Pre-pandemic there was a clear line between work life and home life that she adhered to without difficulty. She describes the collar as being explicitly tied to her relationship with her partner … so if she’s suddenly eager to wear it in her current teaching context, when she wasn’t before, it raises the question of who else is present while she’s teaching remotely, such that her “fun relationship” feels relevant, in her mind, to her teaching activities?

  75. sal*

    Thank you for the last paragraph on the Ms./Mrs. question. I still sometimes see people insisting that going by Ms. means your divorced!

    I go by Ms. because my marital status isn’t relevant, and as a young-looking mid-30s professional in a male-dominated workplace, I really don’t need *more things* making me seem young. Miss just reads too young for my taste.

    If I ever get married I probably won’t change my name, although I’m not dead-set against it, but I know I *will* continue to use Ms., even if I do change my name. I know some people love being a Mrs., and that’s fine too, but it’s not for me.

  76. Dust Bunny*

    Gotta confess I’m a bit perplexed by questions about appearance in video calls. You are at work. Your coworkers, bosses, and clients can see you. You should look as close as possible to the way you would look if you were at work pre-COVID. I get that some of us can’t get our hair done, etc., but it’s a big leap from “makeshift hairdo” to “pajamas and submissive collar”.

    Don’t wear the collar. You did without it while you were in a physical classroom, you can do without it now.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      For the record: I think this applies to everyone, not just teachers. I’m wearing the same things on video call days that I’d wear to my office if I were there. Not wanting you to wear a collar on a video call is not a “ridiculous standard”–it’s a perfectly reasonable limit to set for pretty much all of us.

    2. Magpie*

      In addition, now OP1 is at work in a situation where there is likely to be a permanent record of their appearance because
      a) students may or may not take screenshots, and
      b) the Zoom sessions may be recorded as part of child protection obligations.

      I am required to record all Zoom sessions with children and minors for child protection purposes. Surely this is not unusual in educational settings, and even more of a reason why OP1 needs to stop wearing the collar at work, immediately?

      OP1 needs to refresh their understanding of their obligations relating to child protection and what this means in their everyday life. They are showing a terrible lack of judgement: perhaps working with children is not a suitable job for this OP.

  77. coffeeandpearls*

    OP1: It’s not fair, but even rumors about teachers can cause things to go south fast. Can you wear it on your thigh for Zoom meetings, or pick out another symbolic piece of jewelry together for day wear?

    Also, I think a lot of people above are unnecessarily alarmed that she “has to” wear it. She said she doesn’t wear it at school, and she wouldn’t be writing in here to ask for Alison’s advice if she was forced to wear it. She wants to wear it.

    1. Anon*

      True; it’s also not okay for her to wear it in front of her students just because she wants to.

  78. remoter*

    OP #5 – not sure if this is mostly happening on LinkedIn but in LinkedIn there’s a field that is only visible to those who are recruiters – you have to change your status to actively looking for new jobs to see it. You could put in that message that you do not want to be contacted about X opportunity at Y and hope that they read it?

  79. Mmmmmarty*

    No, you may not enjoy your kink while you teach children. Boundaries between your personal and professional lives are a good thing. Please seek therapy if you feel like your happiness is negatively affected by not being able to share your kink while working. Until then, you have to remove the collar.

  80. Atalanta0jess*

    I feel like OP 1 is seriously underestimating how well she can be seen and how much she is being scrutinized. I am super interested in the deets of everyone on zoom, and I can see them WELL. the collar is definitely visible and definitely being noticed.

    1. sal*

      True, and another thing I thought of is that you usually only see your own video as a tiny thumbnail. But the students probably often see OP on the full screen. So they can actually see her video better than she can herself.

  81. LifeBeforeCorona*

    #1 As discreet as your collar might be it is a very specific symbol of a very specific relationship. One kid sees it, figures it out and before you know it you are fielding calls from parents about your personal life. A possible solution is to have a generic gold/silver chain to wear in public while saving the collar for private times.

  82. Marlee*

    OP 1, I am a teacher and I have been involved in the kink community for over a decade.

    If I had a child in your classroom I would pull them immediately and I would be speaking to the school board so fast your head would spin. Frankly I would do the same even if I didn’t have a kid in your class and I found out. Not only that but I would speak to any local kink groups or clubs that I knew of. I pretty much guarantee you would no longer be welcome there because what you are doing is so far outside the boundaries it is not even funny.

    Frankly, your judgment of the situation is so questionable I have doubts about you being a teacher and working with kids. I am shocked this is even a question.