I seethed and simmered and sank into a bit of a funk.
However, as I approached the females in the family – my daughter, niece, sister-in-law, and 20-something-babysitter – they all rejoiced out loud, exclaiming, “Did you see the banner? Isn’t that sweet?”
My thunderous expression shocked them.
Usually, I hold my tongue on these occasions.
But the soothing sounds of the ocean waves, the warmth of the hot sun on my back, and the week of solitary early morning walks loosened my reserves, and I shot out clearly, “Who the heck is Mrs. Michael Smith? Is she a person? What’s her real name? What happened with the strides we made in the ‘70s? WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO WOMEN IN THE PAST THREE DECADES????”
Four pairs of blue/green/brown eyes stared back at me as if I’d totally lost my mind.
Perhaps I had.
“Back when I was a kid, women had few options besides staying at home with the kids, cooking dinner for the husband, and cleaning the house. Women were teachers, which was great, but few were professors. Women were nurses, fabulous, but few could be doctors.”
I paused. The expression on the female faces in front of me were straining to understand; clearly, they wondered what the heck anything I was saying had to do with Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith.
“A woman didn’t have her own identity,” I nearly screamed. “She wasn’t Joyce Smith. She was Mrs. Michael Smith.”
Again, no comprehension in those blue/green/brown eyes. In fact, one of my female relatives said, “just because you didn’t change your name doesn’t mean women who choose to take their husband’s last name are chattels…” or something like that.
I sputtered and stuttered to explain myself better: “I don’t care about Joyce Brown becoming Mrs. Joyce Smith and taking Michael’s last name. I care that she lost ‘Joyce.’ That she’s okay with being called ‘Mrs. Michael Smith.’”
I sighed. I know females have made inroads in the past three decades. My daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, and nieces are all proof of that.