Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I've Earned the Mrs.

I like to think of myself as a common sense advocate. Since common sense is a truly endangered concept these days, I frequently find myself pondering situations in which it is lacking.

In many cases, common sense finds itself lost in an idea that started out with good intention, such as the feminist movement, and then became fogged over and lost all sensibility whatsoever.

The feminist movement presumably started when women realized that they did not have the same rights as men in society, so they began to demand more rights. Logical enough. The problem began when people started using terminology such as “equal” and insisting that no differences exist between the two genders.

Obviously, differences do exist between men and women, and we have very different strengths and weaknesses. That means we excel at different tasks, and it also means (gasp!) that we are not equal. We were designed to complement each other. That’s why I cook and my husband changes the spark plugs.

The way I see it, women really messed up when they insisted that they could do anything a man does, and maybe even do it better. Now we’re stuck doing all those dirty jobs that we didn’t have to do before feminism, and in most cases we still have to do the traditionally female tasks as well.

And, since we are equal now, we decided we could no longer take our husband’s name when we married. Instead, we hyphenate our name to make it equal.

Aside from the fact that a single last name provides for family unity and identity, I have another problem with the hyphenation issue. For example, if a woman marries and becomes Jane Doe-Johnson, and if she insists the kids become little Doe-Johnsons, what happens when they get married and have children? Freddy Doe-Johnson could marry Mary Smith-Jones, who would then become Mary Smith-Jones-Doe-Johnson, and by the time the woman's great-grandchildren were born, they could be named John Gibson-Evans-Michaels-Peabody-Smith-Jones-Doe-Johnson just so they wouldn’t slight a female ancestor somewhere along the family tree.

My humble opinion is that this just doesn’t make sense.

Neither does the idea of abandoning the prefix “Mrs.” so as not to offend a feminist. Honestly, I am offended when I receive mail addressed to the generic “Ms.”

I’ve earned my Mrs., thank you very much.

I have put in nearly 13 years of marriage. Now, 13 years might not seem like long to some folks, but I feel like it’s enough hard work to earn me the title of “Mrs.” I have survived many conversations in the tractor with my head clanging against the glass as I sat on the armrest for four hours. I have produced around 4,500 dinners, at least that many sandwiches stuffed in a lunchbox, and hundreds of pans of eggs made with a baby on my hip.

I’ve endured 39 months of pregnancy, 48 cumulative hours of childbirth, and seven trips to the ER with ill children.

Our marriage has survived many episodes of working cows together, taking vacations together, and even camping as a family.

We have emerged from countless tax seasons, calving seasons, and hunting seasons with our vows intact.

Yes, I have earned the title of Mrs., as I remind myself when I’m bouncing along on the back of the four-wheeler at eight months pregnant or riding around the yard on the top of the air drill to make sure the power lines aren’t going to catch on the wings.

It’s just too bad that society doesn’t value my Mrs. title nearly as much as it values my B.S. degree, because we all know how much that is worth.


ZenPanda said...

So I'm less of a wife because I hyphenated my name? I choose to for many reasons but NOT because I have to prove anything to anyone.
It is part of who I am.
I worked a long time to earn my degrees and I have 3 children. They do not have a hyphen in their names.I honor my husband and my marriage daily. We are a team- regardless of the hyphen in my name. I accept being called Mrs. Droopy or by my legal name.

A very thoughtful, well written piece.

Mum-me said...

Yes I totally agree that pregnancy is something to be 'endured'.

You sound like you've earned more than the title of "Mrs". I think you've earned a month-long holiday at the dream location of your choice, every year! (Never happens though, does it?)

Hope everyone is feeling better.

Brother in Christ said...

Well said!!

I had an English professor who didn't take her husband's last name when they were married. They had two children; a boy and a girl. The boy was given the same last name as his father, but the girl was given the last name of her mother. A geneologist's nightmare and confusing for the kids.

Treasia said...

I think you've earned the right to be called Mrs.? and not Ms.

What do you think of a divorced woman who remarried and still goes by the ex name with the new name hyphenated onto it? Yup, you read correctly. My hubby's ex done this. Now for the life of me I can't figure out why.

Erin said...

Just a clarification:

The jab at the end about my B.S. degree does not indicate that I (nor anyone else who has earned a degree) did not work for it. It's a sarcastic reference to the ironic fact that I have a B.S. degree and that I a) live on a farm with quite a bit of actual B.S. surrounding me; and b) I'm a writer who produces what some people would consider verbal B.S. on a daily basis.

That said, flame away at me ;)

jeanie said...

I will do my best not to flame, just offer a different perspective.

Once upon a time, I worked in the corporate world. There was a phone list with the men "Smith, Ben" and the women "Smith, Bessie (Mrs)" and "Smith, Bernice (Miss)".

This understandably upset the feminist in me, as when someone was perusing the phone list, I wanted them to call me, not my marital status. I got them to change it (their excuse? There were a lot of Asians who worked in the company and they needed to know whether they were male or female on a few names - it seems my suggestion of M or F was actually not warranted).

I have worked exceptionally hard to be acknowledged for who I am rather than who I married, and I have been using the title Ms since I gained adult maturity.

I understand and applaud your wish to be recognised at Mrs - and I understand and applaud one of my former client's (and 84 year old lady) wish to be recognised as Miss.

As for the "taking husbands name" - your right to choose. My daughter will be my surname. My fiance will be his surname. I have no idea what the heck I want to end up being (although hyphenation is a possibility as I want them both to belong to me) and my head spins if we add another child to the mix in so many ways.

Kudos to you for all you have done and what you feel you deserve. As it should be given to others for their choices.

I do hope there was no heat given off there - not the intention at all.

threecollie said...

Great post, great blog...stumbled upon you via John's World and am glad I did!

Anonymous said...

Another great post.. Well said..


Anonymous said...

I hooted out loud at your goat cheese comment on PW's Dump Cake post! From my last several months of being an avid PW fan, I've seen you're a regular blogger to her posts so I thought I would just hop on over here to see what your site was all about. I love it! Hope you don't mind I just "showed up". Thank you! Terry in Idaho

Mama Bear said...


The Pastoral Princess said...

I say AMEN to that!!

WendyLou said...

Outstanding post and very well written!!

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

Most interesting post Erin... I agree with you. And I also agree with a woman's right NOT to take on the "Mrs" so emphatically. Call me a fence-sitter.

To be honest, because I got married when I was over 30, and had a reasonably successful career under my belt and a name to go with all that, I was reluctant to take on my hubby's name initially. Marriage didn't alter our relationship and I failed to see why it should change the way people saw me. We worked it out. He didn't want to wear a ring (his brothers don't) but he wears one now. And I have a new surname. We both wear it with pride because, in the end, marriage and/or relationships are about compromise.

I am a MRS - but I am equally me. Same Bush Babe I've always been. With some very handy man candy by my side!!!


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