December 2, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Sheila Michaels Gave Women a Better Option

The history of the title ‘Ms.’ is a strange, somewhat overlooked one. Though its origins are said to go back to the early 20th century, when more and more unmarried women were entering the workplace, the true birth of the abbreviated title and its radical potential are tied to the 1960s and a woman named Sheila Michaels.

Michaels, who died of Leukemia last week at the age of 78, never laid claim to coming up with ‘Ms.’ But it was she who injected the word into the highly-charged atmosphere of the ‘60s during a radio broadcast. She was appearing as a feminist—then a fringe, “far left” women’s rights group, according to the New York Times.

Her desire, she told the Guardian years later in 2007, was to come up with a way to talk about women who didn’t ‘belong’ to men.

This was a harder task than many would have assumed, and its implications were legendary. Gloria Steinem caught wind of Michaels’ broadcast later on and decided to use the honorific as the title of her new magazine, “Ms.,” in 1971.

In the new TNT drama “Will,” about the early life of William Shakespeare, one of the character, upset with Shakespeare’s addition of the not-yet-created “bedazzle” into the script, reprimands him. “You can’t just go around making up words!”

Shakespeare replies cannily: “Someone’s got to.”

For women who knew they no longer wanted to be defined by men, Michaels was that someone.

Related Posts

Honoring Timothy Dean One Year Later

January 8, 2020

January 8, 2020

An intimate gathering was held Tuesday, Jan. 7 at West Hollywood Park to honor the 1-year anniversary of 55-year-old fashion...

Cases Linked to Deaths in Ed Buck’s Apartment Still Hot, LASD Announces

March 5, 2019

March 5, 2019

The deaths of Timothy Dean and Gemmel Moore incite calls for justice within community.  By Jorge Paniagua When one of...

Memorial Night for WeHo Bartender Charles Kinsley

February 26, 2019

February 26, 2019

As the West Hollywood night scene mourns the loss of long-time bartender Charles Kinsley, the Mother Lode will be holding...

Long Beach LGBTQ Center’s Trans Day of Remembrance

November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018

Joining with over 100 cities around the world, The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach will be hosting an International Transgender...

Mourning Transgender Lives Lost so Far This Year

November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018

The transgender community is still one of the most targeted minorities in the United States. Not only are gender-nonconforming individuals...

When Nino Fortson Died, So Did His Name

June 5, 2018

June 5, 2018

Another trans life lost, and misinterpreted in death.

Remembering Stephen Hawking, LGBTQ+ Ally

March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018 14

The late Stephen Hawking was a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

The Trans Lives We Lost in 2017

January 7, 2018

January 7, 2018 68

Lost, never forgotten.

Drag Innovator Flawless Sabrina Bows Out of This Life

December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017 68

Adieu to the godmother of drag

J.D. Disalvatore, Artist and Activist, Gave Queer Filmmakers a Voice

September 12, 2017

September 12, 2017 781

The LGBT+ advocate, producer, and animal rights activist lost her life to cancer last week. She was 51.

Diane Torr Saw the Power of Drag Before Anyone Else Did

July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017 191

The gender warrior and artist gave us a new way of seeing

Jonathan Demme’s Queer Cinema

April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 187

Yesterday, we lost one of great American filmmakers of the past 30 years in Jonathan Demme, who died in his...

Matt Redman Memorial Feb. 19 in WeHo

February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017 167

Matt Redman, one of the founders of AIDS Project Los Angeles, died lastDecember 27. He was 67. As The Pride...

Gay author, historian Stuart Timmons dead at 60

January 28, 2017

January 28, 2017 574

BY KAREN OCAMB  |  Author, historian, gay activist Stuart Timmons died Saturday morning at the Serrano North Convalescent Hospital in...

Debbie Reynolds, early Hollywood AIDS activist

December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016 597

BY KAREN OCAMB  |  The LGBT community—reeling from the deaths of icons George Michael and Carrie Fisher and AIDS Project...