Tag Archives: women's rights

What’s In a Name?

Permit me to expand on the theme of the state of women in the US of A. I was forty when I met my husband. After leaving home at age 17, the only roommates I had were in college and for a few years thereafter so I was used to being on my own and making my own decisions. Where to live, what to eat for dinner, whether to adopt yet another rescue animal (I hear you, I never had more than three at a time).

Two weeks ago, we celebrated twenty years of marriage. I’ve no beef on this issue with my husband and am thrilled to have met him by chance and married my best friend of all time. But everything changed around me. When he “popped the question” I said yes. We decided together to elope, that week. Returning from our weekend honeymoon, I asked if I should keep my name. He was devastated.

Deciding to take his name I had to change everything from bank accounts to, well, everything. I felt for the first time that I was losing myself. I insisted, whenever we moved, to have certain utilities in my name and some in his. All our cars, residences, and things we had to register are jointly owned. Our business is equally held, even though I don’t work in it, except as an unpaid advisor. We’re still working out wills and end-of-life decision paperwork, but know what we want in that regard.

Two weeks ago I scraped the passenger side of my car coming up a narrow ramp in the grocery store I’ve driven by hundreds of times without incident. Oops. I drove home, assessed the damage and told my husband, then filed a claim with our insurance company. No, I did not call the police as I lightly scraped a concrete bollard designed for that purpose that had been scraped thousands of times by other cars making my same error.

The insurance adjuster called and asked for my husband. You can talk to me, I said. It’s my car and I was in the accident. Next time the insurance company called they asked me how my husband was. I said fine. He wasn’t in the car. I was. Me and the dog. Finally I think it’s straightened out. We’ll find out soon, as my husband will be out of town on business when the car is fixed and who knows if they expect him to drop off the car and get the rental, et al.

I can understand health rules and HIPAA constraints, but if banks, insurance companies and businesses in general refuse to deal with “just the wife” we’re in trouble as a country. That’s why I believe that all these questions concerning a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body have little to do with abortion, but about the state’s desire to control women.

It took until the 1960’s for a woman to be able to open a bank account in her own name. I did so shortly after that was a possibility, and I don’t want to go back. I love being Mrs. X, but I am a person in my own right. Once my legitimacy as a person is questioned, it makes it easier for those who would have control of my life, to get it.

Think about that next time the mechanic calls and asks for your husband to discuss the repairs to your car. When we recently moved, the electric company told me our address doesn’t exist. It took two days to work it out (it included a hyphen no-one knew about) but in our household that’s my job, doing the bills, so I dealt with it.

When I got in an accident a few years ago and was in a long-term coma, my husband became my legal guardian. Finally home from the hospital, a lawyer called for a court hearing that had been scheduled for a few days hence, unbeknownst to us. My husband was out of town on business. They had to speak with my husband about his wife’s continued care and whether the State would become her guardian. My guardian. The lawyer came to visit, pronounced me sane and able to care for myself, and the court hearing was cancelled. It was the most consequential day of my life, and I handled the situation, without my husband. He was proud of me. As a matter of fact, I believe he handed me back bill-paying duties that day. C’est la vie!

Be your own person. Stand up for your rights, and don’t mess with the rights of others. That’s my motto. Cheers! Dee