How to Address a Woman

After having read Key’s Corner most recent post International? Not us Mate! about the difficulty of some international companies getting the mailing address right in Germany, it got me thinking  of my husband’s aunt who still addresses envelopes to me in a queer way. From her perspective, I have no name, as her letters are addressed to me in my husband’s name.

She did this 20 years ago and is still doing today. Aunt M. sends me letters the old-fashioned way. It is not only via postal service versus e-mail, but she addresses me with my husband’s full name: Mrs., his first name, his middle name and his last name (the last name we share). Using a random name for an example, she posts her letters to me: Mrs. John Elsmer Smith.

In our early years of marriage, I would have loved to tell her to address me by MY name. I did not see myself as a man’s property. I am sure Women’s Rights would have supported me on this.

But nowadays I just find her way of addressing me quaint and nostalgic. It is a petty issue in a world full of other challenges.

Most times, when a letter is addressed to Mrs. husband’s last name, I automatically put it on my husband’s desk. I make no connection while fleetingly reading Mrs. and my husband’s name. My husband then returns the envelope, having to point out it was addressed to me, but not in my name. Shoot. I had missed this little letter s behind Mr. again.

Does the letter s, being the only differentiation between two identities, stand for servant? Mister’s servant.

Nevertheless, I have kept these envelopes to show them to my grandchildren some day. I want to tell them about the first time women were allowed to vote, to drive a car, … and to be called by their own name.

It just makes me wonder. How many women out there in the U.S.A. (or other countries for that matter) still get mail addressed to them as the Mrs. of their husbands?

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