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Other Thoughts About Names and Customs
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The re-naming of the girl from her father's name to her husband's name memorialized her change in custody and her altered social position. Her father's daugher, her brother's sister, her husband's wife, her children's mother, but never herself. At all times she was maintained as, and defined by, her relationships to the men around her. There was something "wrong" with her if she wanted to keep her own name, let alone select a different one for herself.

Women did not enter into financial contracts as the responsible individual, this even during my own lifetime. I remember trying to get one of the first Bank of America credit cards and also a charge account at May Company. I can recall being told I had to have a male relative on the account with me, even though I was living alone, was employed permanently full time in a responsible job and had no adult male relative to sponsor me financially. Nor did I want one.

A similar scenario came into existence when I tried to sign a lease for an apartment and when I wanted a car loan. I needed a male relative as co-signer. It was 1962.

Not in the dark ages, my friends, nor in the benighted 19th century. This was the 1960's when I was newly on my own. The experiences made me realize that as a "girl," as a single woman, I was a second class citizen, since I didn't have a man to speak for me. No one to introduce me to his male buddies as "the little woman." No wonder so many of my friends ended up in unsuccessful marriages, acting in desperation, as a result of social blackmail.

You think it's all ancient history now? I recently got car insurance. I filled out the application. I am the sole breadwinner and the main driver. I added my husband to the app as an additional driver. Recently the bill arrived in my mailbox, addressed to my husband. When I called the insurance sompany, they said it was their standard procedure to put the policy in the husband's name. I told them I'd be looking for another insurance provider.

Sexism is alive and well and living in the business world and elsewhere. Even in this day and age, the introductions go like this: "Hi. This is Mr. xxx Smith. He's a xxxxx, working at xxx. And this is his wife, Rhubarb." As if I were some kind of voiceless, inactive, unemployed appendage. Pfaushw!

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