Don’t Call Me Mrs
It happened again today. I looked at the invoice for some repairs to my car and it was addressed to Mrs Surname. My eyes were drawn to the mistitling even before the not insignificant cost of the repairs.
There was absolutely nothing that would have led the otherwise obliging mechanic to assume this title on my behalf. That’s because there is absolutely no recorded evidence of me ever having been Mrs anyone. Because I haven’t been.
Nor was there any evidence of that thing usually associated with said title: a husband. Because I don’t have one and never have. There is nothing about me at all that suggests Mrs.
Except that I am a woman of a certain age. How else to explain me? A woman in a heterosexual marriage is still the dominant narrative, within much easier grasp than the reality of a woman who has carved out a different path in life.
I’ve had this happen a few times over the last few months in the course of selling, buying and renovating properties and getting quotes for work. All on my own. No man in sight. It’s also an unfortunate coincidence with the onset of menopause. Yet apart from a few wrinkles, I don’t think I present any differently to what I did in my thirties. My appearance is about as far from matronly as you could imagine. Not that it should matter.
It’s often been done by apparently well-meaning people who otherwise provide a useful service for which I am grateful. I grit my teeth as the ‘pick your battles’ mantra checks in with me once again. But some of the worst practices endure because they have well-meaning people at their service to reinforce them in their day to day lives. As long as no-one says anything, these things continue undisturbed; appearing as natural and self-evident as the weather.
But I got to the point where I could no longer let it go unremarked. Now I simply say that it is not part of my name and ask them to correct the record. I don’t explain and usually they don’t ask. You never know, they might even think twice about doing it again to someone else.
But it doesn’t remove my baffled frustration at the ease with which people continue to make this assumption about a woman’s title. This is especially the case when there is an easy default option for…