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Heteronormativity in authorial communications

Heteronormativity in authorial communications published on 4 Comments on Heteronormativity in authorial communications

As part of my job, I communicate with authors about the status of their manuscripts, including format correction letters, revision letters, resubmission letters, "Where is your overdue review?" letters, etc. The ways in which the authors address me are alternately frustrating and amusing.

I've had authors address me as "Dr. Allen," which is hilarious. They must assume that anyone involved in a medical journal is automatically a doctor. Well, the editor is a doctor, as are the associate editors and editorial board members, but not the editorial staff.

I've had authors address me as "Miss Allen," which is somewhat irritating, but kind of understandable. A lot of the authors are international, and their primary language may not have an equivalent of "Ms.," so they go with "Miss." Fine.

What really grates my cheese, though, is when authors address me as "Mrs. Allen." Apparently they assume that, just because I come across as a woman belonging to a certain cohort, I must be in a [hetero] marriage. They also assume that, even if I were married, I should be called "Mrs." Nope, it's "Ms." all the way, bucko.

I'm just waiting for when we get married, and someone calls up or sends mail to "Mrs. [My Spouse's Name]," like I'm completely subsumed into her identity. "That person does not exist. Goodbye."

While I'm on the subject, it's my name, mine mine mine, and I'm keeping it. Just as I don't change identity when I marry, so I don't change my name [or my honorific]. What a silly, misogynist, insulting assumption that I would.

Since I'm here, I should also tell you to call me either by the name I introduce myself as or the name prominently featured in my E-mail signature. Anyone who automatically calls me by some nickname available to those people who have my name will be glared at, corrected and dealt a swift kick in the butt [well, the last mentally at least].

I'm feeling a lot of outrage these days.


Ugh, honoriffics are so annoying. I wish Ms. would take off better.

I hate being called Miss. It sounds so… little girly, patronizing. It’s like a verbal pat on the head. Calling me Miss was fine in high school. I’m thirty years old now, and I look every one, I’m not a fucking MISS anything. It’s preferable to a lot of other things, but it’s still… it grates. It’s too close to “Missy,” which, if you’re going to call me Missy I guess you’re talking to another woman whose name is actually Missy, because that’s the only acceptable time to call someone that, so I’ll politely stop listening now as your conversation must not apply to me.

But I’m also not married. So please don’t call me Mrs. (my last name), because, well, that’s stupid. Also, don’t call me Mrs. (partner’s last name), because, uh, no, we are not married. We sometimes share a pseudo for artistic endeavors. It isn’t either of our names, legally, it’s just a name we use for making and distributing art stuff. But I ain’t no Mrs. Malay, you can still call me MIZ gorrammit, because, WE’RE NOT MARRIED. Kthanx. Glad we cleared that up.


The only reason I took Husband’s last name was so that The Child wouldn’t have to explain that, yes, his parents were married, and it would’ve been a pain for Husband to change his name on all the things (like the mortgages) to which his name was already attached (my name was attached to nothing). Societal laziness as impetus, whee? As a benefit, I can easily avoid being found by people from my past, heh.

The thing with me, though, is that names don’t really matter. I had a tough time naming The Child because of this. (I had a long list of names I didn’t want to use, all of which were there because they were names of people we knew or characters in movies/on TV; I eventually got his name by asking an onomastic message board for suggestions, making a list of those that didn’t grate, and asking Husband which ones didn’t grate on him, either.) I hardly ever use a person’s name in conversation, and use names in emails only because it seems expected. But I know I’m odd that way…

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