Author Tabitha King called out the media for referring to women as merely the “wife”
One of the most frustrating trends in media coverage is when a site or publication refers to a woman as her male partner’s “girlfriend” or “wife”—without including her actual name. It happens all the time, even to the most accomplished women. And now, author Tabitha King (who happens to be married to author Stephen King) has implored editors to do better.
As the Associated Press reports, the Kings recently gave $1.25 million to the New England Historic Genealogical Society through their charitable foundation. However, most press coverage of the donation referred to them as “Stephen King and his wife” in headlines. Tabitha was understandably upset, especially because, as Stephen tweeted, she was the one who originally had the idea to make the donation. She shared her thoughts in a statement that Stephen posted on his Twitter account yesterday, February 28th.
"Dear Editors (married to a wife or a husband): In recent media coverage of a gift that my husband (ironic usage) and I made to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, we became Stephen King and his wife," her statement began. "Wife is a relationship or status. It is not an identity."
She went on to sarcastically suggest that news organizations could call her “OfStephen” (a nod to The Handmaid’s Tale), “His Old Lady,” or “His Ball-And-Chain.” She also joked that she could have been referred to as “Mother-of-Novelists” but that calling her “Mother-of-Clergy,” (her daughter is a minister) would be “just silly.”
"I’m seventy. I thought I would give you permission, if 'OfTabitha' predeceases me, to title my obituary, Relick of Stephen King," she wrote in her savage conclusion. "In the meantime, you might consider the unconscious condescension in your style book, and give women their names."
After Tabitha’s response began circulating on Twitter, the New England Historic Genealogical Society president and CEO Brenton Simons thanked her specifically in a statement tweeted by American Ancestors.
Tabitha has every right to be angry about the way she was credited (or, more accurately, not credited). She’s an accomplished novelist in her own right, having published eight novels. And regardless, women deserve to be acknowledged separately from their husbands, no matter what they do.