I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.Rebecca West
I have needed to fill in a mountain of paperwork this past week; for medical tests, insurance claims and other legal kinds of things. I’m married, but I kept my maiden name. Cody – my family name – is who most people know me by. It’s the name I’ve built my career around. It’s who I feel comfortable to be. My husband, Ben, feels in no way diminished because I didn’t take his name. It’s a common practice, so paperwork should be straightforward, right?
But it’s not.
My name is Nicole Cody. But even though I’m married I’m not Mrs. Cody.
Ben has one choice when he fills in paperwork. He chooses Mr.
Of course, all of the forms I am filling in online or in paper start by me choosing an honorific from Miss, Ms, Mrs. and on some I could also choose Lady, Doctor or Professor.
Seeing I am not titled, I can choose Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Because this archaic practice of showing your marital status if you’re a woman is still a thing. Not ticking a box , especially with the online forms, was not an option.
And I’ve come to realise how much this one simple thing drives me nuts.
One secretary told me that Ms was for divorcees and lesbians and angry single feminists (she stared pointedly at me), so I would have to use Mrs. When I explained that Cody is my maiden name and that my sexuality and values are none of her business she rolled her eyes. It’s just a form, she said. Just tick one. What does it matter?
Why does it not matter for a male to reveal his relationship status, but it does for me?
What happens if you’re gender fluid, or gender neutral? How does that work?
I’m inclined to start filling in my forms as Mr. because why should a man be afforded the dignity and privacy of a one-size-fits-all name, but not me? From a business point of view it fits better than any of the other terms, and none of these forms will allow me to write Mx – which is the modern form of honorific where you do not wish to specify gender or relationship status. Why not Ms for me? It’s what I settle for, but I find it to be a derogatory term, and one which has often been used derisively.
When I have questioned the choices available to me, people have been uncomfortable or cross with me. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy with these choices?
Because, people, I am not. Nothing offered to me fits me. And if it doesn’t work for me I am certain there are other people who feel the same way. We need language that works better for our modern age and for ALL people.
How do you feel about this issue? I’d love to know!
Love, unticked boxes, and a great need for reformation, Nicole xx