Don't Loose Your Name (or Your Head)

As described in a previous post, for new inspiration and soul food I took a copperplate calligraphy class from Anne Elser at Binders Art Supply. Anne is a great teacher, and the class was a fantastic learning experience. The last class of the session we worked on envelopes. People in calligraphy classes tend to ask lots of questions about addressing formal invitations, especially for weddings, and I've become completely astonished at how complacent younger generations of women are about stupid and unequal traditions such as the "Mr. and Mrs. Man Only" name on envelopes. I thought that had mostly died out with my grandparents generation.

I'm old enough to remember the controversy of Ms. (the title and the magazine) and the fight for and death of the Equal Rights Amendment. Women in my mother's generation were expected to become housewives, nurses, secretaries, or teachers, and I remember the challenges my mother faced when trying to do more. When I entered the workplace, sexual harassment was the norm, and complaining about it didn't usually help or change things. When I'm patted on the head and told by a Millennium Generation woman that "Mr. and Mrs. Dude" on a wedding invitation is "traditional," I wonder what all of our female (and a few enlightened male) forbearers fought for. The right for women to enter any field, be treated fairly, and dress in the workplace like they're going to a picnic?

"Mr. and Mrs. Male Supreme" sent to a woman is insulting. It implies ownership, and even worse in this land where individuality is the cornerstone of our culture, it implies that the "Mrs." is anonymous. She has no name of her own. She could be anybody. The man, however, must be named, therefore, he must be more important. How completely stupid. For this women became suffragettes? For this they burned their bras? For this I spent decades developing an international name and reputation only to have it negated when someone I know gets married or graduates from school? I don't think so.

Ever the cynical rebel with a smile (I am a Gen X-er after all), I went prepared to class with my answer to the problem. In remembrancer of Anne Boleyn's beheading, 574 years ago that same day, I addressed the perfect traditional envelope. That Mrs. really could have been anybody, and she was... four more times.

Dear Anne,

Things are going to get really rough soon, but just know that your little girl does well.

To Whom It May Concern:

I'd like to be found at this address.

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