Happy birthday to what’s-her-name.

I received a birthday card by mail yesterday. At least, I think it was intended for me, since that occasion is nigh. The card was addressed to “Mrs. Mike Pierce.”

 Till recently I might not have reacted as if I’d been stabbed in the heart on seeing  my name styled thus, but since my identity has done a virtual “poof!” over the past year, this was one more cut among a thousand. I’m married to Mike Pierce, but that doesn’t make me Mrs. Mike Pierce. It makes me Linda Erdely Pierce. I certainly accept “Pierce” as my chosen surname, but who robbed me of my first name?


Whad'ja say yer name was?


 I chucked the offending envelope in the trash and half-heartedly propped the card on a cabinet. But I kept thinking about it.

 So, trying to soothe my emotional boo-boo, I did a little reading about combining names in marriage. There was little soothing to be found.

 It turns out we’re hanging on in the U.S.  to a tradition from at least the 19th century when women’s property ownership rights and ability to enter into a contract were subjugated to her husband. Even her name became his property. As women gained more legal rights into the 20th century there was a rise in maiden surname retention, but at its high point in the 1990s that percentage was still under 25%. It is now declining.

Since the advent of the internet in particular, there’s been a great deal of emphasis on how to prevent identity theft. If our name is not our identity, what is? Are women handing over their identity for the sake of an antiquated tradition? An entire name, not just the surname?

 I’ve never thought of myself as a feminist, but I do support equality among all people. I also support thoughtfulness, taking out the trash, and individuality. I think it’s time we tossed out this quaint habit of stealing a woman’s identity.

 So, happy birthday, Linda.

 Thanks, now let’s have cake.



6 responses to “Happy birthday to what’s-her-name.

  1. happy birthday to one of my favorite people. LINDA EDELY PIERCE

  2. Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy belated birthday, Linda Erdely Pierce!

  4. kellyk_1977@yahoo.com

    jessica was telling me how great your blog was so i had to come check it out ~ kelly

  5. Happy Birthday . . . . late! I jumped over here from a FP blog that you had commented on. I like the bus and your views on life. Perhaps I’ll jump on if I can find that damn bus token.

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