I read and think a lot about managing my digital identity, becoming mistress of my own digital archive, curating my own digital footprint, understanding the algorithms that act upon me etc. This time of year, and the accompanying spasms of irritation as the post arrives, remind me that whilst I may be able to do this digitally, I am perversely much less able to manage my offline identity; and data about me is subject to cultural bias.
I am referring, of course, to the Christmas cards that arrive addressed to “Mr and Mrs <insert husbands name>”.
I did not change my name when I got married some years ago, but the number of cards addressed this way steadily increases each year. It seems as if there is some expectation that over time I’ll soften my stance.
Incidentally, you may be interested to know that historically the law of coverture did not apply in Scotland, consequently it was much less common for a woman to take her husband’s surname. Fashion really only started to change in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as ideas about what marriage was started to shift. You can track the extent of this change quite easily just by wandering round a good graveyard and having a look at the names.
(Victorian Christmas Card, Nova Scotia Archives, via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/nsarchives/11222208036 No known copyright restrictions)