A NonBookish Ranting Story about My Name

As I was reading Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog’s post about being called “Ms.” rather than “Mrs.” I was reminded of a strange experience I had shortly after I got married. But first, go read Rebecca’s post because it sums up my feelings on the use of “Mrs.” almost perfectly. I love my husband and I love being married, but I don’t think I need to be defined by that status. (And, yes, I took my husband’s name but almost entirely out of a desire to share a last name with my future children. Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my maiden name and miss it very much).

Anyway, after the wedding, I called to request that my name be changed on my credit card. I told the woman the reason for the change and she went ahead and processed it. About a week later, a new credit card shows up with this printed on it:

Mrs. Michelle Erin LastName**

Yep. That’s right. It had the “Mrs.” printed ON THE CARD. I was horrified.

I called the credit card company back up and the conversation when something like this:

Me: Hi. I was sent a credit card that has “Mrs.” printed on it before my name and I would like to have this removed.

Operator (with great confusion): Um, it says here that you requested a name change because you got married.

Me: Yes.

Operator: So I don’t see what the problem is.

Me: Well, I called to have the last name changed, but now it also says “Mrs.” on it, too.

Operator: But you got married, right?

Me: Yes, but I’d rather it not be on my card.

Operator (with much hesitation): Ok…we can issue you a new card if you’d like. Do you want it to say “Ms.”

Me: No. I would like it to say my first, middle, and last name only. The person ringing me up at the store doesn’t need to know my marital status.

Operator: Alright…expect it in 7-10 days.

She completely failed to understand why this was a problem. I am my own person. This was MY credit card. The one I had before I was married. My husband had absolutely nothing to do with it. Send me the occasional wedding invitation addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s FullName” but when you are talking to me, I am my own person, separate from my husband and I would like to be treated as such.

PS – Another time, I had an alumni credit card and they gave me one that said “University of Michigan – Flint” on it. I called to have it changed explaining that I went to the main campus in Ann Arbor and I felt like such a pretentious snob. I much preferred the outraged feminist phone call to that one.

** Please don’t ask me to explain why I didn’t put my actual last name here. I know many of you know it anyway. But just give me that.

8 thoughts on “A NonBookish Ranting Story about My Name

  1. Amy July 16, 2010 / 8:16 pm

    What? They DO that?! Put Mrs. or Ms. on the card? Crazies. And good call on getting that taken off. Bleh.


  2. Michelle July 16, 2010 / 9:41 pm

    Seriously, that is just all sorts of stupid. I don’t think I have the right words to properly comment on the idiocy.


  3. Michelle July 16, 2010 / 10:17 pm

    No Way! I wouldn’t expect them to put “Mrs.” on a credit card. Crazy. I don’t think I’d want it on there either…


  4. Vishy July 17, 2010 / 2:16 am

    I can’t believe that they added ‘Mrs.’ to your credit card! (When they don’t add ‘Mr.’ why do they do this!) I read a beautiful essay by Anne Fadiman on this topic called ‘The His’er Problem’. If you would like to read it, I can send it to you. (By the way, how is ‘Ms’ pronounced?)

    I wanted to ask you something. Is it possible in your place to have two last names – a combination of one’s maiden name and one’s married name? That way one can have the best of both worlds, isn’t it 🙂 (I remember one of my Spanish friends doing that).


    • Michelle July 17, 2010 / 4:50 pm

      It’s pronounced Miz. I think I’ve read that Anne Fadiman essay – is that the one were she talks about not knowing how to pronounce the magazine at a job interview?

      People will often use two last names sometimes replacing their middle name with their maiden name. My maiden name is very clearly a last name so I didn’t want to do that. But I did start using my middle name more once I was married. I wanted to keep something of the Irish in it. Otherwise my name is very, very French and I am not at all French.


      • Vishy July 18, 2010 / 1:59 am

        Interesting – I didn’t know the pronunciation 🙂

        Yes, the Anne Fadiman essay is the same one that you have mentioned.

        It was interesting to know that people replace their middle name with their maiden name. Yes, your name does sound very French 🙂 I didn’t know that Erin was Irish – I thought it was Scandinavian.


  5. Bina July 19, 2010 / 5:39 am

    Ugh, I completely understand why you were upset, it´s so idotic to put down Mrs on your credit card!

    Just goes to show that there´s a lot that still needs to be done about equality.


  6. Valerie July 19, 2010 / 11:39 pm

    I don’t really like being called “Mrs.” myself — I wince when one of my friends will (to their kids) refer me as “Mrs. —-“, I’d much rather that the kids call me by my first name.

    And I don’t think you’re being snobbish asking to correct your alumni information! I’d have done the same in your place — I graduated from Univ of Calif at Davis and if I’d gotten a card for, say, UC Irvine, I’d have asked to have it corrected.


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