Thursday, July 5, 2012

Culture of Patriarchal Oppression - episode 7/5/12

This morning, we did the paperwork to refinance the mortgage on our house (improved the rate and terms).  I was listed as the co-borrower.  Again.  There have been probably a dozen such documents when we count the mortgages, refinances, and car purchases in our eighteen-year marriage, and all but one of these has listed DH first - in spite of the fact that I have done all the initial paperwork and planning.

"Oh, it doesn't matter; it's such a trivial thing."
"I guess I just always list the man in the first column, but it all works out the same."
"Don't worry, heh heh, both of you are equally liable for the entire debt!"
"It's just a coincidence; someone has to be the co-borrower."
"Oh, that's just how we always list it, man first then woman."
"Um...I think it has to match your tax return, and the government makes you list the husband first then the wife."

No, it is not a coincidence that it has happened Every.  Single.  Time.  Oh yes, except for that one time.  When was that?  It was a loan when I had income and DH didn't, and the car was exclusively in my name - and the letter arrived to "Mr. [me]".  I wrote them a letter to complain about the inherent sexism of that form of address, i.e. their assumption that the car-buyer was by default, a man.  They wrote back, "Dear Mr. [me], We were so sorry to hear of your poor experience..."  Always a glutton for punishment, I wrote yet again, and never heard back.

By all rights, I should have been listed first approximately half the time.  It's not a trivial matter, because when patriarchy gets so ingrained that I seem like the wacky one for objecting, that reveals a deep level of misogyny in our culture.  The default person, business-doer, active agent - is assumed to be male.  Females are relegated to the status of "co-".  They might as well list me as "helpmeet".


  1. It's not always trivial, either. We had a credit card that we thought was equally in both of our names, with Arne's listed first. Until I tried to deal with a problem and was told they couldn't work with me, only him. I guess he was the "real" account holder. Needless to say, we canceled that credit card.

    By the way, hi!


  2. Hi Kristin!! It is so great to "see" you. :) Your blog looks delicious by the way, if slightly unkosher for me.