The Christmas 2014 NameEquality Campaign: Don’t call women Mrs HusbandFirstName Surname

It is time that the ‘tradition/custom’ of calling women by their husband’s FIRST name stopped.

I do not think that it is acceptable in 2014 for people to be addressing Christmas cards to (for example) Mr & Mrs Gilbert Blythe. This is a literal erasing of a woman’s identity. Indeed this form of address dates back to a time when a woman & her possession’s belonged to her husband.

Even the http://www.debretts.com website admits that “it is becoming increasingly customary for married women and widows to use their own forenames and initials.“(!)

Having campaigned successfully for mothers’ names to be on marriage certificates in England & Wales (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/18/mothers-names-marriage-registers-david-cameron) I am turning my attention to another form of name inequality.

The modern way to address Christmas cards to a couple is as follows:

Think about who you knew first or who you know best and put that person first. There is no reason to put down the man first by default. So for example:

Anne & Gilbert Blythe

Gilbert & Anne Blythe

Gilbert Blythe & Anne Shirley

Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe

Anne Shirley & Diana Barry

Gilbert Blythe & Fred Wright

In order to make it easier to have conversations about this topic with people I know I have created the photocard below which I will be sending out with my Christmas cards this year. (Technically as I have changed my surname now by deed poll to OriginalSurname Husband’sSurname this should no longer be an issue for me but I don’t seem to have got round to telling all my friends & family this…).

I will be donating 20p to Women’s Aid via www.justgiving.com/nameequality/ for all the cards I receive (from people I know..) which are NOT addressed with an erasing of my identity.

If you are married and cross about this issue then why not make this the year that you talk to your friends & family about it. Alternatively by sending them the card below you are part of something bigger and this should make it easier to get the message across and would raise money for http://www.womensaid.org.uk.

@nameequality

TheChristmas2014NameEqualityCampaign

 

Links:

http://www.debretts.com/forms-address/titles/untitled-women-0

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29804450

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Stone_League

Launching soon… The Christmas 2014 NameEquality campaign – Don’t use Mrs Joe Bloggs!

Mothers’ names & occupations should be recorded on marriage certificates alongside Fathers’

In England & Wales mothers’ names & occupations are not on marriage certificates but fathers’ names & occupations are.

This is not fair.

Women are routinely silenced and written out of history. The UK has been a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women for many years.

By accepting the Convention countries committed themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women

It is not acceptable for the Home Office to say that:

“the requirement to include the father’s details in a marriage certificate is historic and would require a change to the present legislation. Currently there are no plans to change the rules.”

The Equality Act 2010 bans unfair treatment and helps achieve equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society.

This seemingly small inequality is part of a much wider pattern of inequality.  For me this campaign is about more than just this single issue. It is indicative of a society and culture and a country where things are decided by men to suit men.

Marriage was historically a business transaction between the father of the bride and the father of the groom.  It is important that all forms of discrimination are challenged.  Language shapes behaviour and cultural sexism is a huge barrier to true equality.

I am so grateful to the many people have taken the time to sign the petition I set up on change.org [http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/mothers-names-should-be-on-marriage-certificates] and to those who have explained why this issue matter to them.

Comments fall into three broad areas:

Genealogists are very keen for this to change to make researching family trees easier.

“this is an important historical record. Marriage certificates an important resource for historians. Only being able to extract a father’s name and occupation from these records not only limits, but skews the historical record. People have mothers. These mothers have names and occupations. They should be recorded for historical purposes so that future historians can gather more accurate data.”

Many people have said that they have been brought up by their mother and that their father has been entirely absent – these people are upset that the only person who parented them cannot be included on a marriage certificate. Many women are bringing up children with no support or contact from the father – these people would like their role in their childrens lives to be recognised.

My son’s father chose not to be involved in his life. I’m bringing him up alone. Why should someone who’s had no input into my son’s upbringing and takes absolutely no responsibility or him whatsoever get to be on his future marriage certificate, when I cannot? There must be hundreds of thousands of families in this situation. This is a completely outdated example of historical patriarchy. It needs changing.”

Some are feminists and people who want this for basic equality reasons.  “Because I am a feminist”.

Others point out that “It is just common sense and long overlooked correction that has to be made.”

One I find the most poignant is To be named is to exist, to be recognised.”

If you are in Scotland or Northern Ireland then you may be confused by this because marriage certificates there have included information about mothers for many years.

I have not been able to find definitive information yet about what the position for civil partnerships in England & Wales is, nor what plans there are for the format of marriage certificates planned for same sex partners.

Act now – sign the petition – share it with friends. Get this anachronism changed.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/mothers-names-should-be-on-marriage-certificates

Mrs & Mr

I believe that companies and schools and councils etc should not be using Mr & Mrs Blogs as standard. Whoever procures the good or service or whoever is the primary contact for a school or for whatever reason correspondence is required should come first.

Why I choose Ms

I choose Ms because I do not want to be categorized  according to the archaic classification system of sexual status.

“Men might be thought of collectively as knights, merchants, crusaders; women were virgins, wives or widows” (Taken from Medieval Women by Henerietta Leyser).  

Quote from Lucy Stone

A wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should hers.

My name is my identity and must not be lost.

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