Names, Influence and Missed Moments: Observation notes 54 – 55 and Reading notes 19-20

Observation note 54: Ire. This is post is a vent.

Reading note 19: Names. In Unfinished Business: Notes of a re-reader, Vivian Gornick discusses her feelings on being a couple and that she “flinched when addressed as Mrs”. This is something that I keenly understood as I have never used the title despite being married now for 25 years. Even before I married, I was ticking the Ms. box as it just annoyed me that men got the standard Mr. and women had three choices, all of which sent quite clear messages to whoever was collecting your information (as trivial or disinterested as they may be by the selection). What surprises me is that I am the outlier here.

Reading note 20: Wait! This is influence?! A couple of days ago I wrote about Lauren Layne’s Marriage on Madison Avenue and that the main character was a social media influencer. I wrote that I have little interest in such a person let alone a fake such a person but what the book did for me was have a narrative against which I could compare the many years of watching a variety of people I knew posting their planning for their nuptials to the point of tedium. Reading about a character doing this added another level of tedium which may have contributed to my lethargic two week reading of the novel. I had to remind myself that the circus of wedding planning brings out the crazy in people who I used to like.

Self-flagellating note to state that it brought out the crazy in me too…mostly because I hated the whole process.

Observation note 55: Missed moment. A few months ago, someone I know, someone who I used to think was lovely and sweet and beautifully friendly, posted on their social media that she was “Miss to Mrs” and “rebranding in process”. I cringed and I felt saddened that despite decades and decades of women rallying to not be objectified, here was someone who willingly was choosing to be “rebranded”. However, this is not what made me angry. Disappointed – sure but people can do whatever they like in their life. But feeling angry – I left that for the wedding reception, upon looking at the list of guests so I can find the table I was seated at, I found that “Miss to Mrs Rebranded” chose to change my name from the e-RSVP database and bestowed upon me my husband’s surname. A name I have never used. A name that I don’t identify with at all. The rage I felt in that moment was red, it was hot, it made me want to flip tables. If this is what “influencers” think they can bestow upon people, changing their name and their title at will, then rage I will. A few years ago, another lovely young woman who married a family friend whispered to me “I desperately wanted to keep my name but [name redacted] wouldn’t let me. It offended him”. I am offended for her. I am angry beyond comprehension, to the point of my vision blurring.  Perhaps this is why I am struggling in my reading of romance fiction especially. All I can think is of young obsequious women going from Miss to Mrs and forcing everyone else to do it too.

Vivian Gornick can cringe with me. 

11 thoughts on “Names, Influence and Missed Moments: Observation notes 54 – 55 and Reading notes 19-20

  1. What I find especially egregious is when my name is written up at Mrs. HusbandFirstName HusbandLastName. HEY! I have a valid firstname and lastname. There is no need for any honorific whatsoever these days, unless, you are addressing a teacher or a head of state or something.

    • Oh! I think I would have been livid if that happened. Both my parents were from parts of Greece where if you married, you were referred to by the feminine version of your husband’s name. My father would always speak with pride that his father refused to do this to his wife (my grandmother) and she was the only woman in the village referred to by her name. Considering that I have her name, perhaps there is an identity tenacity that has been passed down to me.

  2. I HATE it when people ask if I use my ‘maiden’ name!! I was almost 30 when we married and hardly a ‘maiden’. Besides, my virginal-or-otherwise-bride status is no-one’s business but mine.

  3. There’s much to deride about the Canadian province I live in, Quebec, but one thing they got right years ago was make everyone’s “maiden name”, as we used to call it (though most of us don’t “maiden”, sheesh *eye roll*) your legal name, irrespective of status. Socially, you can do whatever you like, of course.

  4. I married very young, in a culture that expected, if not demanded, that women drop their surnames upon marriage. By the time I got divorced, one of the first things I did was reclaiming my name.

    I am indeed very, very angry on your behalf–that’s a breathtaking betrayal in this day and age. There’s no excuse and no satisfactory explanation for such a rude, overbearing breach of etiquette.

    • I agree. My sisters keep telling me to “let it go” and “who cares what they do”. But I do care. If they so flippantly (or even maliciously) feel at ease to do this to a family member who they say they care for, imagine how awfully they must treat people with whom they have no connection. It’s appalling and a deep reflection of their character. I probably forgive the bride a tiny bit. I actually think she had a lot more worries on her plate than going out of her way to change my name. My guess is that her father did this and she didn’t fight him. She is always a bright, warm and lovely woman to speak to. He is all pious grandstanding and nationalistic pride. Bleh!

      • “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept” –letting it go (“you know how he is”, “they didn’t mean to offend”, “it’s this one time”, “this is not the time to make a scene” (is there ever a time for a scene?), and so on, as all emotional blackmail to keep those harmed quiet and compliant. Sometimes those who enforce the silence truly do not mean harm, but that doesn’t mean no harm is being/has been done.

        • I think they consider it trivial in the light of so many other acts of violence in the world. And to be honest, it is a micro act of passive aggressiveness. The dad is not violent in anyway, whatsoever. More of a “haha, this will be funny” obnoxiousness, which is why my sisters suggest not giving the act oxygen (rather than walking past it). But it was all so relevant to the book I was reading. And I have a thing about investigating trivial acts that can easily be overlooked (paperback romances that aren’t catalogued being stuck on spinners anyone????). I guess by blogging about it, I get to have my say over what that act symbolises.

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