Sunday, November 14, 2010

I have no words. JK, I have plenty.

A disturbingly large number of people from my high school are now either pregnant, married, or raising a child. My mind-numbing disgust at this state of affairs aside, what I've noticed is that the married ones have all taken their husbands' last names.

Now, of course, these women are not very bright, I know from personal experience with them. Dumb as dirt, as they say. So I'm not entirely surprised that they would subscribe to an archaic practice like that.

What DOES surprise me though, is the fact that nearly everyone I've ever known, whether smart or dumb, backward or progressive, young or old, has succumbed to this norm. I do not understand why otherwise smart women would do such a thing. It's thought a 'modern' thing to do if a woman takes her husband's name, but hyphenated with her own. Why do it at all, though?!

The common retort to my aggrieved protestations is, "It's just tradition, let people do what they want".
a) I am letting them do what they want. I'm not seeking to legislate, I'm not holding a gun to their heads. Telling them they're stupid is not the same thing as stopping them from doing what they want.

b) I fucking KNOW it's tradition. Bullfighting is tradition, it's still a violation of animal rights. Slave-keeping is tradition, it's still a violation of human rights. The caste system is tradition, that doesn't make it any less idiotic.

So now you can see how "tradition" is not a valid defence for anything. In fact, if something is 'traditional', there's a good chance it's immoral, or based in stupidity.

Keeping up with tradition is only ever a good thing if the tradition in question has something of value to offer. What does this particular one have to offer? Symbolic ownership of the woman by the man? Symbolic severance of the woman's identity, and the taking on of her husband's? What part of any of that is desirable for a woman in the 21st century?

Another thing I've heard is that it's a symbol of love by the husband, to give his name to his wife. Well, great. Why doesn't it go both ways? Why can't you show your love for each other (because apparently a lifelong commitment is just not enough love) by swapping last names?

But wait, I've saved the best for last.

Women go through 9 months of a destructive appetite, wanting to eat everything in sight, they go through back pain, swollen extremities, pain of all descriptions, flatulence (which is, arguably, worse for those around her than for the woman herself), a measure of incontinence, swollen, tender breasts, an unattractive body yet a higher sex drive, mood swings, etc. I could go on for at least a page. And at the end of this excruciating at worst, uncomfortable at best, 9 months, they have hours of labour to look forward to. In many cases, up to 48 hours of it. That means agonising contractions, closer and closer together, for hours. And after that, they have to push a BABY out of their vaginas. Do you know how small a vagina is? And how big a baby is? Mine tries to rip itself off of me and run away just thinking about it. It's agonising hell, quite frankly. Period pain is nothing compared.

If a natural childbirth is not wanted, or not possible, they get C-sections. They get their stomachs cut open, their muscles cut, so that no sort of exercise afterwards will make a difference. The only way to get a good body again, is through surgery. And in today's society, appearance is everything, so it's kind of a big deal to most women. Drugs can be used, but they have their own side effects and risks.

What's her reward at the end of all of this? HER baby gets to take her HUSBAND'S last name. What was the husband's biggest contribution here? An orgasm.

Is this fair or just, or common sensical, in any sense of the word? No. It's ludicrous. Yet this continues, day after day after day.. with nobody apparently giving a shit. With nobody seeing anything amiss here.

Women carry on the bloodline, through blood, sweat, tears, and broken pelvic bones. WOMEN should have their last names passed on.

It makes me angry that apparently nobody in the world questions the status quo.

Question everything.


  1. I've personally never had an issue with the last name change, but you bring up a good point of why can't it be shared? I love my last name, it's really unique. I've thought about it a lot, just because I'm bored, and if I were to get married, I'd probably add on the guys last name. Hyphen it. And do the same for the kid. But I don't want to ever be pregnant.. ever.. I'd probably adopt :)

  2. I fought changing my last name, for a year, after we were married. It's not that I wanted to stick it to the man. Mostly (and honestly), it was because I have never felt entirely welcomed by my in-laws so I was in no hurry to be a "Theirlastname". I was fine being me. Unfortunately, we do a lot of traveling and moving internationally and it's a total bitch to have different last names, especially when we travel separately. Someone always thinks I'm trying to steal my own child and every time, I have to provide a notarized letter from my husband, giving me PERMISSION to travel with our son alone. Now THAT pisses me off. So ... I gave in and changed my name. It's been a few months and I still use my maiden name for just about everything - email, etc. It's just a name to me, not a huge deal.

    I do kind of disagree with your comments about child birth and regaining your body. I had a normal pregnancy, an agonizing 24 hour labor, and an emergency c-section. The only part I disagree with is that you have to have surgery to have a good body again - I watch what I eat and I try to stay active and I think I look pretty damn good. No surgery. Ever.

    We weren't married when I gave birth so I did fight for my maiden name to be a part of our child's name. I won that battle and I've kept my maiden name as part of my name too. We match. It wasn't the effort or sexism that made me fight for it - it was that my husband promised his dad (who I am not a huge fan of) that we'd use his name as our child's middle name (barf) and then he'd have their last name? Over my dead body. I had a WHOOOOOLE lot to do with bringing this child into the world and he is going to have a part of me, on that birth certificate. You know?

  3. Well, what I wonder is, why didn't you get your husband to change his last name instead? I see no reason for a child to have its paternal surname instead of maternal. Mothers have a LOT more to do with their children being born than their fathers.

    It's just a sexist tradition, and I wonder why more people don't fight it.

  4. My ex-boyfriend told me this:

    In Mexican culture, it's tradition for the women's last name to be carried on instead of the mans.

    So his name works out to be like this;
    "FirstName" "MiddleName" "FathersName: Jorge" "MothersName: Aviles"

    And when he has kids, traditionally, his "FathersName" would be Aviles, and his wife's last name would be passed on as well.

    So, it's tradition in some countries, not all.

    My aunt, who is a feminist took my uncles name, and I asked her why. She said it signified a change in her life, that she took this name because she was moving forward to a different part of her life and marking it with a new name.

  5. I didn't know that, that's pretty freakin' awesome, about the Mexican culture.

  6. I totally agree!
    My husband is (1/2) mexican as well, I did end up taking his name, but only cause legally... mine wasnt legal, my mom pulled some BS and switched my name to my step dads... long story short we wanted to take MY last name but my SSN was in one name and my birth cert in another, so neither name was legal, we went to Vegas and lied, essentially, to get married! ;)
    My name was cooler though and we both had agreed we'd rather have mine, he was willing and ready to take my name and that meant alot to me. :)

    Not to mention that, tbh, I never realized how much racism there is against hispanic people until I took a hispanic name. Its so unfair! Definately an eye opener, having had the switch in how Im treated, esp on the phone or on paper, I see it more than someone born into it, I think.

    We are actually looking into paying to change our name as a family. My husband also feels that since his dad was a bit of a dead-beat, theres no reason to keep his name, he was nothing to be proud of, to be sure.
    Thats especially maddening, when kids have the last name of a dad they don't even know! How unfair is that.

  7. I totally agree! I have always thought that it only makes sense for the child to have the mother's name. Not only for the reasons that you mention, but also because one can always be sure of who the mother is, but not necessarily the father.

  8. Ha! That's a good point, I hadn't even thought of that!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...