I can’t take credit for this observation; I can only show that Shakespeare knew it long ago.
A woman either in person or maybe in a book or email said to me something along the lines of, “What is a Ms.? There’s no such thing as a Ms. It’s an invention of the feminist movement. A woman is either a misses or a miss.” Shakespeare agrees.
In an exchange between the Duke, Mariana, and Lucio. The Duke asks Mariana is she married, a maid, or a widow? She says she is none of them. (This is because her fiancé wrongly and cruelly broke his promise to marry her when the dowry was insufficient.) Lucio advises, “My lord, she may be a punk; for many of them are neither maid, widow, nor wife” (Measure for Measure, Act V, Scene I).
Look up “punk” in an unabridged dictionary. You will find it is an archaic word for “prostitute.” Interestingly enough, and perhaps very telling of my point, it’s currently used to refer to a male prostitute. Here too is someone who really has no proper label in life, and therefore, is free to be abused as a non-person, the protestations of the gay activists notwithstanding.
A woman who is married or widowed is probably referred to as Mrs. An woman never married is a Miss. Ms. is used to emphasize they have no relationship to a man. This is the punk of old and the prostitute of today, male or female.
In the play, the Duke makes Lucio marry a punk he had impregnated and deserted. He does this to “reward” Lucio’s slandering of him. Lucio protests, “Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping and hanging” (Act V, Scene I). And so is being a punk in the old, new, and Ms. sense of the word because you are a person without personhood. And neither laws legalizing prostitution and homosexuality nor words legitimizing feminism are going to change that.