The Plight of the Married Lady

[Ed. note: This post by contributor Nan originally appeared “In honor of Valentine’s Day,” on her blog, Behind the Times. She’s graciously allowed us to repost it on Hay Ladies! Thanks, Nan.]

Dallas’ public radio station, KERA, recently ran a pledge drive, and I finally pledged. I’ve been a regular listener for a while now — in fact, I consider popping in a CD every once in a while, but I have a panic attack at the thought of what I might miss if not listening to NPR. It’s kind of nuts, considering I’ve started having panic attacks due to some of the things they regularly talk about on NPR (a running series seems to focus on people who’ve been unemployed FOR YEARS — my poor heart can’t take it). Alas, however, I’m probably doomed to panic attacks over some such thing for the rest of my life. I deal. And I gave to my local NPR station because I listen all the time. They finally guilted me into it.

And then they promptly shat all over my good graces.

I filled out the donation form using my name — Nan Kirkpatrick — as the primary contact. Actually, I was technically the only contact. And I gave them my personal checking account information. Sean (my husband) and I do have a joint checking account, but he was donating from his own funds. We’re modern like that. So, so far I’ve given them my name and my personal checking account information. Then I saw a small, not required space for “Name of Spouse.” I put “Sean Kirkpatrick.” Looking back, this was my big mistake. At the time, however, I thought nothing of it. I’m a good test taker, I guess — I don’t leave anything blank.

A couple of weeks went by, and I got my membership information in the mail. What I saw turned my blood to ice. The envelope was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Sean Kirkpatrick.

I was livid. Absolutely aghast. Completely at a loss for words. I’d taken the time to give those…those…assholes my hard earned money — money that I, NAN Kirkpatrick, put in a lot of effort to obtain — and I didn’t even receive recognition except as a “Mrs.” Heck, Sean received first-name recognition, and based on my knowledge of the world, my paycheck, personal bank account, and time do not belong to him. He didn’t have anything to do with the giving of that money. He was a not required blank. He was, in this instance, an afterthought.

He also seemed a little at a loss when I was ranting about the situation. I know. This is not something that on the surface seems like a big deal to dudes, and I cannot say that I blame them. They walk through life knowing that if they put their spouses name in the not required blank, the envelope will always come addressed to them…and some unnamed other. They know that if they give THEIR MONEY to an entity, the entity will not then treat them like a possession, a mere Mr. to someone else’s Mrs. And that reminds me…I always fill out forms as “Ms.” Those jerks couldn’t even get that part right.

Throughout history, women have been barred from financial independence. Actual laws kept women dependent on men for financial stability. I cherish my right to earn my own money and keep it where I please. And I don’t appreciate the societal standard trampling all over common sense — it should’ve been obvious that I was the one to be thanked based on my name being the primary contact alone — to keep from me what I am owed: KERA’s gratitude for my fucking money.

I sent them an email letting them know how I felt. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do remember that it ended with, “This is 2012. Get with the program.” They still haven’t responded. And I’m still livid whenever I think about it. I’m livid because it’s just a very obvious reminder that I am not even considered an equal partner in my own marriage by society, let alone as a complete and separate individual.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

About nanarchist

Nan is a writer living and working in Dallas, Texas, and she hates writing autobios.
This entry was posted in activism, Dallas, feminism, Fort Worth, marriage, media, money, personal essays. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Plight of the Married Lady

  1. merrittmartin says:

    This makes me angry for you!

    I kept my last name so I wonder if I would have a similar experience. Alas, I’ve been contributing to KERA for a while but have tried to get my name corrected — they have it as Mr. Martin Merritt (you know, naturally) — or any sort of response so I don’t think I’d be much help.

  2. CMB says:

    That is a little bit shocking for an NPR affiliate. As someone in academia who will be married to a wonderful man this year, the prospect of a situation like this is one of the reasons I will not be taking his last name (he is absolutely fine with it, and taking his first name was never discussed). I was concerned about his parents (his father is a minister) being uncomfortable with the situation- only to learn that his mother was going to keep her name until pressure from her own mother convinced her otherwise. As this is an issue that has been (100% rightfully) going on for decades, KERA seriously needs to get with it. I understand wanting to completely blend families, but why is it necessary to have one name? We plan on having our children have their fathers name, and I know I will get called by that and am fine with it; but if it will lead to issues like this that will upset you, why change your name?

  3. Rachel B says:

    For what it’s worth, I’m angry for you, too. While I love listening to KERA, they really do need to get with the program!

  4. Pingback: Update: The Plight Of The Married Woman Still Pretty Much A Plight | HAY LADIES!

  5. Rich says:

    NPR, come on, fix your software or database already so this type of thing doesn’t continue to happen.

  6. andy says:

    In ANY other circumstance wouldn’t you be known as “Mrs. whatever your spouses last name is”? Should leave “optional” spaces empty… This is NOTHING new… welcome to 1964!

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