I have always wondered where the woman goes when she gets married. Where is the woman in the way that envelope was addressed? The word “Mrs.”, and that’s it? Is there a reason she disappeared just because she got married?
Before I was married, mail arrived addressed to my first and last name. When I was married, more mail arrived addressed mostly to my then-husband, and I was nowhere to be found except that title “Mrs.”, which identified me as married but that was it. No more me. He was important enough to have his name spelled out, but I was reduced to three generic abbreviated letters.
I know this is one of those things (like how I hate being called a “girl” since I’m 34 years old and left the land of puberty many moons ago) that most people will brush off as silly hyper-feminism and wonder why I have to nitpick. I have to ask though, if this isn’t about minimizing the woman, then why isn’t there a 50/50 chance of ever seeing “Ms. and Mr. Sally Smith” instead on those envelopes? Why is it that it is always the woman’s identity that is erased in the way we address mail to a married couple, without a second thought? That is the scariest part of any bias or double standard, when it happens automatically and is not questioned, when it is absorbed as normal and habitual.
I have always believed that asking “Why?” is the most important thing we can do, especially in regards to our own behavior. So…why is mail to a married couple addressed without the woman’s name? And don’t tell me it’s tradition, or custom, or proper. “Because everyone does it” is never an excuse for sexism or any other unacceptable attitude.