March 7, 2010

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Ms. Matters I read Kris Frieswick’s article “The Ms. Myth” (February 14) with interest, being a college-educated woman who chose to take her husband’s name. However, the title of the article is inaccurate. A woman who uses “Ms.” does not necessarily also use her maiden name. I, for one, choose “Ms.” because in professional situations, my marital status should be irrelevant, as it is with men and “Mr.” My personal decision to take my husband’s name is just that -- personal.

Felice Whittum / Cambridge

Last time I checked, my maiden name came from my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc., so forgive me if I can’t see how keeping it and not taking my husband’s name is some feminist act. We could always go back to using our first names and places of residence or our professions.

Jessica Skehan / Reading

I think in some, perhaps many, cases a woman’s decision to take her prospective husband’s surname is simply a matter of which name sounds better. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be Mrs. Montgomery than stay manacled to a moniker like “Squidget” or “Pukpepper” to my dying day.

Mary Lynne Mason / Wakefield

I was shocked to read: “In a recent poll, about half of those surveyed said the government should force women to take their husband’s name.” Countless data points demonstrate the inequalities among men and women in the United States, ranging from differences in compensation to sexual objectification. Is our culture so afraid of women’s right to choose in general that people want to fight a woman’s right to choose her own name? This poll boggles my mind and breaks my heart.

Meredith Hamilton / Boston

Was Frieswick’s story a work of journalism or an Op-Ed? Despite presenting arguments in favor of a woman keeping her name, the piece as a whole makes a case that women’s decisions regarding our names don’t matter. While I agree there are larger battles to be won in the name of gender equality, I’m troubled that such a biased editorial would be published without being labeled an opinion piece. There is a difference between abandoning your birth name and maintaining it throughout your life. Likewise, there is a difference between journalism and opinions disguised as fact.

Rosalie C. F. Rippey / Cambridge

Women taking their husband’s name is not being feminine, it is being male-identified. Women who do so are fusing with the man and retreating from their own womanhood. For a woman to take her husband’s name is not a manifestation of mental health but rather an indication of emotional immaturity. Rather than having the mental strength and capability to maintain her own identity she regresses into an undifferentiated psychological melding with her husband and his maleness.

Dr. Jane V. Anderson / Newton

For me, the main reason not to take one’s husband’s last name is so that friends can find you. Over the years I’ve lost track of some women friends simply because I don’t know their husband’s last name. What a loss!

Tinka Perry / Westford

Cook’s Caution I enjoyed reading your “Mousse in Minutes” recipes (Cooking, February 14). However, I was concerned with the use of latex balloons to create the chocolate cups. As the executive director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, New England Chapter, I know there are many people with potentially life-threatening latex allergies who would never suspect balloons were used in preparing the dessert. It would be best to ask guests if they have latex allergies if these cups might be on the menu.

Elaine Rosenburg / Needham

Lenten Up Jennifer Graham displays a great deal of religious arrogance to suggest that “everyone” should get aboard her Lenten choo-choo (Perspective, February 14). Whether or not she needs Lent is her business. Whether or not we need it is our business. I was indoctrinated, before I was able to consent, into Catholicism. I long ago matured out of it. Were I, for some bizarre reason, to relapse into fasting, breast beating, and rending of garments, I would keep it to myself or possibly seek help.

George McWhinnie / Jamaica Plain

Lent is a season for soul-searching and reflecting on life. Usually during Lent, people decide to give up something. Another option is to “take up” an activity. For the 40 days of Lent, we could volunteer at a shelter, visit a nursing home, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, collect items for the food pantry. Think about all you can take up that would enhance the life of another person.

Susan A. Holton / Taunton

A Call to Kindness Robin Abrahams’s responses to reader questions are often right on the mark. However, her answer to R.C. of Weymouth (Miss Conduct, February 7) came across as out of line. How can Abrahams, with her training as a psychologist, have shown such lack of empathy for someone seeking her professional guidance? There is no indication that she considered R.C. may have been traumatized by her granddaughter’s loss of her leg. I hope Abrahams will take a moment to consider the power of her words and their potential to cause harm.

Carole Beals / Middleborough

R.C. should be very proud of her granddaughter: She has dealt with the loss of a leg and seems to be doing very well. I lost my leg in a motorcycle accident two years ago at age 52 and it was devastating, but it has made me a stronger person who loves life more. I hope someday I run into R.C.’s granddaughter and see a smile on her face because her grandmother has accepted her as she is.

David Lindros / Stoughton

As the parent of a 5-year-old amputee (upper limb), I agree that R.C. of Weymouth needs to get help and fast. But I felt Miss Conduct’s response lacked a sense of sympathy for the grandparent’s loss. My family is fortunate enough to belong to a support group called Helping Hands. Unfortunately we don’t know of a similar local group for children with lower-limb loss. One resource I’d recommend, though, is the Amputee Coalition of America. Perhaps it could put R.C. in touch with a parent or grandparent who has experienced the same.

Julia Fredette / Millis

Comments? Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Letters, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.

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