Mrs. William Michael Haley, and all the ladies of the House

Just noticed something on the S.C. legislative website. On the page with links to House members’ bios, there is an interesting difference in the way distaff members are listed:

Jeff D. Duncan
Tracy R. Edge
Shannon S. Erickson (Mrs. Kendall F.)
P. Michael “Mike” Forrester
Marion B. Frye
Laurie Slade Funderburk (Mrs. Harold Williams)
Michael W. “Mike” Gambrell
Wendell G. Gilliard
Jerry N. Govan, Jr.
Anton J. Gunn
Nikki Randhawa Haley (Mrs. William Michael)
Daniel P. “Dan” Hamilton
Nelson L. Hardwick

I never noticed that before, and I wonder why. Is it because they didn’t DO it that way before, or because I just never looked up any female members, or I just wasn’t being observant?

Anyway, it jumped out at me just now, when I went to try to answer the question raised by a reader back here (but I did not find the answer).

I wonder what y’all think of it.

Me, I like it. I think it’s genteel. But then, I would have been at home in the England that Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen wrote about, when ladies were ladies and gentlemen were gentlemen. As long as I got to be a gentleman. (I think if I took an aptitude test that tested for all occupations throughout history, I would test as perfectly suited to being an English gentleman who did nothing but ride to the hounds and collect his rents — that is, let his man of business collect them for him, of course. I feel it in my bones. And you know what? In that whole year I was looking, I never saw a job like that.)

At lunch today, when I said something about how Vincent Sheheen has to be careful not to seem to be TOO aggressive with Nikki Haley, my ADCO colleague Lora Prill gently suggested that my sensibility with regard to matters of chivalry is a relic of a bygone era, which means of course that I’m way old. Which I’m not; I’m just quixotic.

At any rate, say what else you may say about it, it’s very South Carolina.

18 thoughts on “Mrs. William Michael Haley, and all the ladies of the House

  1. Brad

    As Bingley said to me just the other day as we were shooting at some pheasants (at least, that’s what we were doing once Bingley explained to me that we weren’t there to shoot at the PEASANTS), “It is amazing to me how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”

    “All young ladies accomplished!” I said. “My dear Charles, what do you mean?”

    “Yes, all of them, I think,” he said. “They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. They sing; they play the pianoforte; they run for governor…”

    “Run for governor!” I said. “What an idea. Why, it’s insupportable…”

  2. bud

    This smacks of a chauvanistic bygone era that should be disgarded with buggy whips, whaling and Jim Crow laws. Why not just list the people’s names?

  3. Tonya Hayes

    I think there’s a great wooing power a man has if he can be a gentleman without making a woman feel inferior. I am working hard to raise 2 teenage sons who will honor women and their families and “mind their manners.” Call it southern or call it raising children who are a joy to be around, I think chilvary is not dead!


  4. Tracy B.

    I happen to have a 1992 Legislative Manual on my bookshelf. “Keyserling, Harriet H. (Mrs. B. Hubert).” I suppose this must mean they have always done it this way.

    I’m not a fan of identifying professional women by their relationships to men, but, yes, it is very SC.

  5. Kathryn Braun Fenner (Mrs. Stephen A.)

    One shudders, of course, at the anachronistic, paternalistic, chauvinistic nomenclature, redolent of days when a woman’s chief aim was to marry well, and hope to survive the many childbirths she was likely to endure, and only appear in the newspaper twice.

    or else it is part and parcel of the geneology game that so many Trunuti Parishioners love to play–where at times, one longs for ordinary Christian names–saints or Bible-based, rather than a pedigree worthy of the American Kennel Club!


  6. Abba

    Reminds me of when I graduated cum laude from law school 20+ years ago, and my small hometown newspaper insisted on using my husband’s name, preceded by Mrs., in the article about it. They simply refused to use my name. They have since changed that policy, but I confess that I remain a little sensitive to this practice. No reflection on my husband, whom I love and who supported me throughout and to whom I am still married, but he’s not the one who graduated from law school.

  7. Kathryn Braun Fenner (Mrs. Stephen A.)

    Perhaps they were simply making it easier for the forgetful gentlemen who had so much trouble remembering the husbands’ names when inviting them out for a bit of shooting.

    If they also included the wives’ names, I could be down with it. Many firms I worked at helpfully put spouses’ names in parentheses after the corresponding employee’s name in the address directory….but more along the lines of Kathryn Fenner (Steve), April Lucas (John Stucker), Leighton Lord (Caroline)….

  8. Burl Burlingame

    My wife still uses her maiden name on bylines. If she used her married name, it wouldn’t fit in 9 picas. And thats the way the world changes.

  9. Juan

    Those who have commented definitely grasp the full significance of this “anachronistic, paternalistic, chauvinistic nomenclature”, but all hesitate to consider whether it is writ on the returning bob of the pendulum you helped set in motion.

    For instance, where are the partners of gay legislators? Only legally recognized marriages, I see.

  10. nettie

    it’s been that way as long as I can remember (likely as long as there’s been web bios). Always bothered me- women can’t stand on their own? Run without their husband’s permission?

  11. Norm Ivey (Theresa B.)

    Quaint is how I would describe it.

    It looks like it may be by choice. Some other women (Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Vida Miller, Annette Young, Patsy Knight) are married according to their bios (Young is widowed), but they are not listed as their husbands’ wives.

  12. The Right Indignant Kathryn Braun Fenner (Mrs. Stephen A.)

    Pat–it’s Emily Post, the original. Emily Post of today, run by her heirs and assigns, says “Ms Christian-name Surname-of-choice” is preferred in business and professional settings.

    My husband, who has a PhD, correctly only uses it in professional settings. In that same way, if one wishes to send an engraved invitation (none of your thermographic printing or E-vites, please) or handwritten missive on heavy stock to a lady, one may certainly address her using pre-modern modes. However, on websites and in modern life in general, please eschew paternalistic anachronisms.

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