My husband and I have been married for almost twelve years. I kept my maiden name. Wayne didn’t seem to care if I became Courtney Pryor or stayed Courtney Mroch, so I decided to stick with what I knew.
Some believe I did this because I’m a feminist. Not so. There’s really only one good reason I never changed my last name: laziness. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of contacting the credit cards companies, the bank, the Social Security office, et cetera.
Okay, I’ll admit there have been times I questioned why I was the one expected to change my name. The only thing I could think of was that most men find it troublesome enough just to don a tux and show up on time for the wedding. Imagine if they were expected to change their names as well. No woman would ever get proposed to again. (Heck, some men have a hard enough time just getting around to the asking!)
Maybe I might have changed my name if we decided to have children. So far I’ve decided not to so there’s still been no point.
Except, even though I’m married, kids or no, again and again I encounter a faction who feel I should be addressed as Ms. just because I haven’t taken my husband’s name.
In my mind, I’m a Mrs. Mrs. represents a married woman. I am that. But my husband argues that I’m a Ms. because I kept my maiden name. When he really wants to irritate me he will say something like, “Wouldn’t you agree, Ms. Mroch?” putting an exorbitant amount of emphasis on the “Ms.”
That, of course, will reheat the debate we’ve had our entire marriage about why can’t he just get it through his head already that I’m a Mrs.
Recently, I ordered some things online. One site’s billing name and address section had a required field for a person’s title. There was one for Mr., Ms. and Mrs. I clicked Mrs., of course, because I knew at least a computer couldn’t argue with me.
Except, then I got to wondering: Why is it women have a special designation once they get married, but men don’t? They stay “Mr.” from the time they’re old enough to be addressed as such, through marriage (or bachelorhood if they so opt), until the day they’re widowed, divorced, or die. (Whereas women normally revert back to Ms. if they’re divorced or widowed, or age into Ms. if they never get married.)
Sure titles still serve a function in our society. In professional situations there’s something to be said for having a means of formally addressing a colleague. Except, why does it not only have to be gender specific but matrimonially related as well? Doctors garner the distinction of “Dr.” regardless of gender, as do senators. (However, perhaps if someone figured out a way to feminize that distinction they would, as female congressmen are often addressed as “congresswomen.”)
Most women I talk to, especially the ones who are married with children, want the Mrs. designation. Why? Is it that important that we be distinguished from our single sisters?
And why is being called Mrs. so important to me? Subconsciously, is having a husband and letting the world know about it via my title playing into my advocacy? After all, like it or not, marriage is still the end all and be all many women are taught to strive for.
But now I’ve started to think about it in a new light. I think it’s time for a change.
Men can go through their whole lives as Mr., so why can’t women simply be addressed as Ms., regardless of marital status? And throw out the “Miss” altogether, since that fuels the ever present age-sensitive fire. (Again, men aren’t reminded they are “mature” so why should women?)
A bit on the old fashioned side but perhaps ready to be reinvented is “Madam” (abbreviated Mdm.). I can see how that designation might have offended some in decades past, as “madam” tended to refer to a woman of shady means, or, on the other spectrum, a matronly older woman, but such concerns shouldn’t plague us now.
Or perhaps a new designation should be created for married men? (I’m not one to raise a gripe without offering a solution, but this is potentially problematic.)
There’s always Mm., for “Married Man” but no way to pronounce it as smoothly as “Mister.” Addressing married men as “Master” also came to mind, except why risk messing with their egos?
Maybe it would just be easier if they became the Mrs. –to denote Mr. plus one. Works for me. (But something tells me I’d have an easier time adjusting to Madam Mroch than my husband would to becoming Mrs. Pryor.)
Read about other marriage debates.