Social Justice

Can We Please Stop Calling Women by Their Husbands’ Names?

Can We Please Stop Calling Women by Their Husbands’ Names?

The other week, I received a shower invitation in the mail addressed to “Mrs. Wes Lastname.”

If anyone out there is looking for a way to tick me off, lemme just give you a hint: This is a great way to do it.

Can we chat for a minute about why this archaic practice still exists? Or rather, why it shouldn’t?

First of all, it just doesn’t even make sense in a modern context. My name is Laura. When I am at work, people call me Laura. When I’m at home and out and about in the community, friends and family call me Laura. My birth certificate, driver’s license, and passport all say “Laura.” My name simply is not Wes. So why the heck would you address an invitation to me using any name other than Laura?

To further drive this point home, let me share with you what happened when the offending piece of mail arrived at our house. Wes carried in the mail. Seeing his name on one of the letters, he opened it. After pulling out the enclosed invitation, his facial expression turned to one of confusion. He then flipped over the envelope again to check the name above the address. After studying it for a minute, he said, “Oops, I accidentally opened something addressed to you.”

Well, OF COURSE he thought it was for him, since HIS NAME was on the front!

Can We Please Stop Calling Women by Their Husbands' Names? | Fairly Southern

This practice is completely sexist and harkens back to a time when women were property. As in, they had no legal identity outside of that of their husband. So when people address me as Mrs. Wes Lastname, even if I know they are well-meaning or just haven’t really thought it through, I can’t help but feel a little twinge of hurt and frustration that they seem not to think I have any identity of my own outside of being Wes’s wife.

Let me go ahead and address those of you out there who don’t give a rip about whether this is sexist or not and simply strive to follow appropriate etiquette. News flash: Nowhere in the etiquette world is it recommended that you say “Mrs. Wes Lastname” rather than “Mrs. Laura Lastname.” Emily Post, also known as The Queen Bee of Etiquette, states that addressing someone as Mrs. Husband’s Name or Mrs. TheirOwnDamn Name are both completely acceptable nowadays! Gosh, who woulda thunk!

So, when you address someone as Mrs. Husband’s Name, you really can’t say that you’re just following proper etiquette. You are intentionally choosing to ignore a woman’s own name and call her by her husband’s, even though it would be perfectly socially acceptable to call her by her own name.

Please, for the love of God people, make it stop.

xoxo Laura

P.S. – Lest you think I’m a better person than I am, let me just go ahead and fully disclose that I my own self have addressed something to Mrs. Husband’s Name in my dark and scary past. I know, I know. Just saying, it’s okay if you’ve made the mistake, too, I can’t even hate ya. As long as you’re moving forward in a positive way.

P.P.S. – Read this blog post to find out why I decided not to change my last name when I got married! 

Can We Please Stop Calling Women by Their Husbands' Names? | Fairly Southern

8 comments

  1. Hello, Laura, just saw your post when looking up why southerners call folks by first and last name, as in ” You bet I will, John Hunter!” Still haven’t found the answer to that one.
    I’m one of those women who loves being identified with her husband. I proudly took his name when we married. I rarely receive mail addressed to me as “Mrs.Gordon ____”, but when I do, I love it. When we work trade shows (he’s a knifemaker), I wear a name tag that says “Cindy. Gordon’s Wife.” That is a special tag that I requested.
    It may be considered old fashioned, but yes, I belong to my husband. He treats me like a queen, and I am honored and proud to wear his name. We have a 50-50 marriage.
    Oh, I have my own identity. I worked as a nurse practitioner, and was Assistant Nursing Director. I’m a Mom and grandma.
    But nothing pleases me more than folks knowing me first as a Christian, then Gordon’s wife.
    Have a happy life!

  2. I had an argument with my mother regarding this terrible practice. We jointly wrote a postcard to a friend of my mothers. The argument began when we wrote the address as: Mrs. Geoff Craven..OMG I could not believe this. My mother claims it is proper etiquette. Etiquette is apparently subjective however women have fought hard and long to even get equal pay in 2021 let along be called Mrs. Geoff. I was outraged and raged out. Sorry Mamma.

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