From the Blog

A Little Less Of A Person

So. All my life I’ve been a fairly complete human being. Perhaps I am in the lifelong process of becoming “fully formed,” in a ethereal-wooy-bullcrap sort of way. But I am a “whole,” unspoiled, fully functional, mostly coherent human being. I’ve been responsible for myself since I left my parents’ house many, many years ago. Also, I am a woman.

I’ve put myself through school, I’ve held a number of jobs, I’ve made a number of large purchases, I’ve filled out a lot of paperwork, I’ve made a lot of phone calls, I’ve talked to a lot of people, I’ve moved all the hell over the place. I’ve done all of this, by myself, multiple times, for many, many years.

I’m in my mid thirties. Last year, I got married. Though later than most people, this is my first marriage. I didn’t take my husband’s name. It was no big deal.

So now I’m doing all the stuff I’ve always done. I fill out forms, I make phone calls, I buy stuff, I move around, I work, I interact with the world in exactly the same way I did before. The only minor difference is that all the stuff I do now includes a husband. Since I am a bit more inclined to deal with the businessy aspects of of the world, and have more patience for dealing with people and paperwork, I assume most of those types of tasks in our marriage. I was doing it all anyway. Now I just have another name to add. Dave prints and signs his name and is thankful not to have to talk to strangers.

So imagine my surprise, now that I am married, to no longer see my name on mail addressed to “us.” It’s addressed to my husband. I’m not the “Applicant,” I’m the “Spouse.” Even when I fill out forms. *I* was the applicant. *He* was the spouse. All he did was sign his name. I sent in the forms. I dealt with their bullcrap. But someone went out of their way to choose him over me.

If it happened once, fine. I’m not burning my bra. I can’t say I’ve been withheld from doing anything I want in life because I have a vagina instead of a penis.

But this is now happening all the time. It’s disturbing. We started a business together. I’m the president. I’m 51% owner. When the mail comes, it’s in his name. Cute, huh? Letters from our property management company are to him and “et al.” They’ve never even talked to Dave. I know this to be true, because he doesn’t want to deal with their bullcrap. But I’m addressed as “ET AL.” Because it’s so many more characters to include my name.

I know there are some folks who may read this and this it’s not such a big deal. It’s too cumbersome to build systems that can address two adults. It’s easier to just follow convention. We’re all just used to men being the heads of households. It’s not sexist, it’s just a way to make things easier. For everyone.

But let me ask you this…do you feel like it’s no big deal because it hasn’t happened to you? Or it will never happen to you?

Here I am, halfway through my life. A fully formed, completely independent human being. I’ve spoken for myself all this time. Until I got married. Now someone else speaks for me. I lost a bit of my identity when I became a “wife.” I’m the “spouse.” I’m “et al.” Doesn’t that just seem fucking surreal? It’s 2011.

Perhaps some newlyweds find it romantic. Maybe it’s a round-about symbol of unification, or something. I think it’s bullshit. Whether I want to or not, I’ll remember the people, businesses and companies that pass me over in favor of addressing my husband. You know what, douchebags? He doesn’t want to talk to you. And I guaran-fucking-tee, I will not want to talk to you either.

Comments

  1. FlamingAtheist says:

    I feel you on this. We just bought a house together and all the spam mail (BUY OUR MORTGAGE INSURANCE! GET ADT NOW!) all show up in my name, not hers, not both of us, just me. In the case of junk mail the DW is fine with that. When we first got married she hyphenated her name, but that was a pain so she went back to her maiden name – the effing military would only put her with my last name. In Texas people could actually not grasp the idea that a woman did not take the mans name! We had a memorable incident in an emergency room with DW in immense pain and trying to check in and the dipshit lady going “Wait, y’all are married but don’t have the same last name?”.
    So yes, it is frustrating and patriarchal, the DMV was bad about this too but finally her car has her name on top and mine as the secondary.

  2. This happens to me too. The same thing happens here, we got married, I kept my name… We put John on my phone plan (which I had forever) a few years ago and they made him the primary account holder. I don’t understand the effort to actually change it around from the original application.

  3. Wow, this sounds really frustrating, Dave. ;-)

    T-Mobile is trying to keep the balance on this topic – the phone is in my name, my wife is the “extra” phone on the plan, and every call to sell me an upgrade begins, “Can I speak with Stephanie?” Every time I say, “Sure, just give her a call on HER phone. You probably have that in your records.” She has never gotten the call. Puzzling.

  4. Meredith says:

    That would annoy the bullcrap out of me. I’m the talker, not him. I’m not a big fan of talking to people on the phone but am more a fan than he is. Not too many changes here yet, did change my name but almost look forward to not being the supportive, subservient wife on all the paperwork.

  5. It was really amusing for the brief time I was married when we got these kind of things.

    Because I was married to another woman, who had just as ‘female’ a name as I did, they got pissed off at us and sometimes sent back paperwork demanding we redo it, and this time someone check ‘MALE’.

    And then there was the solicitation call asking for the ‘man of the house’.

    “You’re talking to her.”

    “I mean your husband.”

    “She’s at work.”

    *click*

  6. This annoyed me so much when we bought our condo. I was the one doing most of the work on researching properties, had the money from my account for the down payment, etc. And I told the realtor and escrow company I would not sign anything unless it said “a wife and husband” with my name first instead of the other way around. So they did it. But yeah, we still get junk mail all in Ryan’s name for refinancing and things like that. We also have an imaginary person named “Bradley Schumacher” who gets much more junk mail than I do!

    Oh and this is the worst one lately. I had a little bit of my personal money from my lawsuit a few years ago and I was considering putting in a skylight and box window. The window company wouldn’t send someone out to give us a quote unless “the man of the house” could also be home. Bah! We didn’t put in the windows.

  7. Wow. The world just isn’t set up for a woman to make decisions, huh? Amazing.

    @MarySue, I think marrying a woman is the best solution. It’s the most likely trigger for “Does Not Compute” system self destruction and explosions.

  8. @mary sue ha!! love your response.

    ran into the same issue with workers who came tot he house in inglewood to give me a quote on having some work done. “hi, we’re here to see your husband about some work” ah, no you are here to see me, imade the apppintment…”we can comeback when your husband is home. you would want to worry your pretty head about all this complicated financing and measurement taking and quote giving.” hm. fuck you, thanks for your narrow minded sexist attitude, i’ll spend MY money elsewhere you sock-knocker.

    it is sexist. and it is bullcrap. and i did feel like i somehow gave up a piece of myself when i married. i hated it.

    people up here are thrown when there is no man to direct things to. i just wait semi-patiently for them to figure it out. oh, you poor little lady, how are you gonna take care of this house all on your own? well, buddy, a hell of a lot more efficiently than if i had one of your ilk hanging around, scratching his nuts. just like i have done for the previous 45 years, 3 businesses, 2 home purchases, etc etc. et al my ass. grr.

  9. MaryNYC says:

    Thank you! Another reason why the idea of marriage really annoys me. No thank!

  10. Ahhh. So much of this world left to fix.

  11. Just curious, do you have a computer in the kitchen? Because if you don’t, how did you write this? :)

    Seriously, I think of lot of it is how you do your paper work for stuff. Shannon and I kept our names, and most stuff comes to “us” or some mangled version (Ask Shannon about all the wonderful ways her last name has been misspelled).

    But yeah women are still second class citizens to a lot of people and organizations. I think it will be a while before people start viewing gender roles as more of a choice than something assigned at birth.

  12. Aunty Laurie says:

    OH MY!! I would be PISSED!! If I were you! Like you said, you’ve always been the “head of your own household”, and It’s BULL’ for anyone in this day and age to ASSume anything.
    Steve and I have been married for 32 years so it’s not as big deal for me, for the most part. I have never had some guy say to me, ” No, I have to talk to your husband”, I usually talk to anyone I’m spending money on, with my check book in hand. I find that the sight of my checkbook talks a Hell of a lot, better, louder… what ever it takes to get through the testosterone fog. Mechanics are another story, there is NO getting through their shit with anything short of a penis!

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