As I clicked on the email, I realised it had happened again. The greeting started with: ‘Dear Mr Dalton’…
I rolled my eyes, and after writing my response, I made a pointed gesture of signing off my reply with: ‘Kind regards, Mrs Dalton.’
I’ve had it all my life. Can you believe that I’ve even had letters addressed to me in the same way, sometimes I even get a ‘King’ because they assume ‘Ting’ must be spelt incorrectly?
I recall once when I was a university, our first sets of test results were posted onto the main noticeboard and as everyone gathered around to see their scores, I scanned the page over and over, not being able to see my name. It then dawned on me that someone had reprinted my name as Tina… Again, assuming the Ting must be wrong.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I don’t even mind so much the mistakes on my Christian name, I get it – Ting is an unusual moniker, you don’t get many of us about. What gets my goat the most is the assumption that I am a man.
And it really only happens when it’s related to our travels. On our recent trip to South Africa for instance, all the reservation confirmations came back to a Mister. When we’ve been away and stayed in hotels, the welcome screens on the TVs have always, always said: ‘Welcome, Mr Dalton’.
Would I call myself a staunch feminist? Hardly – however, I do strongly believe in equality for women, and it’s unfortunate that even in 2018, 100 years since women won the right to vote, that these assumptions are still being made, and sometimes by other women!
Why does it annoy me so much that I am addressed as a man when we go travelling? Perhaps it’s because it’s the underlying presumption that the person who has organised the trip has the authority; is the head of the household; is the main earner? Does is also presuppose that the man is the most important figure in the family?
I do realise that not all countries are as forward-thinking as others, but I’ve even had it here in the UK. If you think about it Mrs is an outdated title in itself. I chose it when I decided to change my name to my husband’s after we married, but Miss, Mrs and Ms – I’m not sure why women have to state this when they fill out any forms, while men don’t. Mr seems to fit all and no forms require men to declare if they are young, unmarried, old unmarried or simply married.
Maybe it’s time to do away with titles once and for all. Last year, HSBC rolled out a number of new services for transgender and non-binary customers, offering 10 gender neutral titles for customers who don’t identify as a particular gender or don’t want to be identified by gender.
I am more than happy for people to address me by my first name, after all that is what I answer to and it’s how I introduce myself to new people. So if you work in the travel industry and happen to be reading this, don’t make assumptions about a name that doesn’t appear to gender specific. It might even be easier all round to direct communication to a first name which comes across as much less formal and more friendly.
Do you have experience of this? Love to hear your thoughts.