A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…

 (Oh, there’s a Mad Men recap coming…not that I’m outraged about it…. anyway I just really liked that line and this is all prelude to my reaction to the following)

Imagine my annoyance when, in the process of devouring every Allie Brosh article on The Gloss, I should run across the following:

Why I’d Be Offended If A Woman Didn’t Take My Last Name

Call me old fashioned. Call me traditional. Call me chauvinistic. Call me whatever you will, but don’t emasculate me. Leave my manliness in tact.

I do understand that for centuries women have struggled in a patriarchal society and that the last name is one of the final fronts. But please understand our plight. This isn’t about establishing a hierarchy in the relationship or taking possession of you. As deeply rooted as it is in our societal traditions, it is even more so in the man’s bible. It is a privilege for a man to take a woman’s hand in marriage, and an even greater honor of offering our family name as a token of our undying devotion. Arguably more so than a ring.

(etc)

Step 1. Ok, what if I call you emasculated? Because if any scrap of your self worth depends on what your romantic partner calls herself, you already are. In fact, you are a traditionally old-fashioned chauvinist whose entire concept of manliness is sad and outdated and unoriginal and SUCKY

Step 2: "The man’s bible" is just the regular ol’ Bible, fyi, and the first man who tries to take my hand anywhere and marry it is getting a smack to the face. 

Step 3: Marriage is definitely a privilege in this country (as evinced by the fact that only hetero people can do it), but you wanting to rename me after yourself and your manly man ancestors isn’t so much an honor as an act of domination. If that’s what your devotion looks like, you can put in a box and mail it to Abu Dhabi, because it’s not wanted here.

I’m quadruply nauseated by the comments, in nobody says that instead of it being women’s job to set aside what’s important to them to cradle their delicate spouse’s man-ego tenderly in their nurturing maternal arms, it’s actually the man’s job to suck it up and recognize that he is 50% of the partnership, not 75% or even 52%. 

Dudes (by which I mean women)…do you think John Proctor went all crazycakes in The Crucible over his name because "well, um, whatever"? No. He got himself executed for witchcraft (which everyone knows only blonde housewives can do anyway) because his name was as dear to him as anything else on earth. Apparently dearer than some things. I.e. breathing. 

We might have an ever-so-slight family superstition going in the MKP genealogy that lends emphasis to my stance (i.e only one wife in the previous generation didn’t change her name except to the extent she lets me call her Mom); plus my name is awesome. It has 20 letters, I share a middle name with my mom, it sounds really cool when you pronounce it like you’re British, if you google me with my middle initial you find me and nobody else, unmistakably (for better or for worse)….

The Women’s Movement is about choice, so I don’t say a word when I see facebook friend after facebook friend from elementary school becoming Mrs. Husband, Mrs. Hyphenated-Husband, Mrs Marriedpants Von Husband. I try not to mention it to friends who are getting married, friends who have chosen differently than I would, friends who just liked their husband’s name, friends who bowed to in-law pressure, friends who Did It For The Kids, friends who didn’t think twice about it.

And if you’re married and changed yours, please don’t feel this is an attack on you from which you need to defend yourself – this is absolutely an individual decision for womankind. What with you being the women who are doing the marrying. 

But I’ll tell you what does make me spit-take my Paul Newman lemon-aided iced-tea, and that is a Man Type asserting His Right to Spew Patriarchy all over his intended and then act like he’s just trying to strike a blow for embattled masculinity everywhere. 

That’s gross. If you can’t articulate a better reason than "it makes me feel like less of a man" and "I really like my name," I’m not even going to bother coming up with a better retort than "it makes me feel like less of a human" and "not only do I like my name, but I hate your name

Speaking of whom, you know who was an awesome manly specimen of manhood? Paul Newman.

You know what his wife’s name was?

Joanne Woodward. <— (not Newman)

They were married for 50 effing years. 

Still think your last name is the only way to express your devotion, Michael Woodsmall?

Oh, and you can keep the ring. I’m betting you have crappy taste in jewelry. 

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23 Responses to A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…

  1. Ugh.
    The subject of name changes came up once at work. I mentioned my ambivalence. (now former) boss said that if his wife had refused to take his name, he wouldn’t have married her. I said it was a good thing A. hadn’t said that to me, or I wouldn’t have married him.
    I suppose I can understand it a little in his case because his wife was previously married and I infer she took her ex-husband’s name, so if she’d been willing to take ex-husband’s name but not his, I can see why he’d hypothetically be a little put off by that. Unless he had a vile last name (which he doesn’t).
    But for the most part, I don’t defend it. And I defend him for that comment maybe 2%. And if hubby had insisted I take his name I would not have married him b/c that would mean he wasn’t the right guy for me.
    I did take his name for a variety of reasons. If I had it to do over, I might make a different choice, but I’m not going to go back now (too much hassle, man! Though he still maintains if I want to change both our names to a third name the offer is still good.) I still kind of feel like I sold out, and I applaud my friends who kept their names, and encourage would-be brides with qualms to keep their names (I tell them you can always change later but it’s hard to go back… my aunt kept her name for the first 20 years of marriage and only then did she change it). I do a little squee whenever I encounter a woman in my age bracket who kept her name. And it bugs me that I’m seen by people in general as part of the monolith of women who changed their names, part of that wave of invisible social pressure of “everybody does it”, and nobody will know why I did it.
    Seriously, as long as society lays less pressure on men to change their names than on women to change ours, they need to STFU about it and try to understand where we’re coming from. If they don’t understand it is their responsibility to try to understand rather than to spew their mindless chauvinism everywhere.

    • I thought of you as I wrote this, because I remember you thinking/writing about it, and I absolutely believe that it was your decision to make.
      This is really the crux of it:
      And if hubby had insisted I take his name I would not have married him b/c that would mean he wasn’t the right guy for me.
      You guys are happy and married regardless of what your names is/are/will be. This dumbass not only dumped a real live girlfriend because she had no interest in his (seriously crappy) (oh but also future and hypothetical) last name, but dared to announce to all women that they were castrating their future spouses or damning themselves to a life of spinsterhood if they didn’t rush to change their names.
      It’s like the way I interpret the end of Taming of the Shrew (and the way this great BBC modern adaptation starring Rufus Sewell did) – when you commit to someone, you’re willing to do things that will make them happy even if they’re not your favorite things, and the reciprocation is them never asking you to do something they know you don’t want to do, just to make them happy.

      • ETA (except I can’t actually edit, apparently) that I don’t think you sold out at all – it wasn’t a mindless process for you, it was one that clearly you considered from a variety of angles.

      • ETA (except I can’t actually edit, apparently) that I don’t think you sold out at all – it wasn’t a mindless process for you, it was one that clearly you considered from a variety of angles.

      • Yeah, that girl is doubtless better off without him (the article writer).
        when you commit to someone, you’re willing to do things that will make them happy even if they’re not your favorite things, and the reciprocation is them never asking you to do something they know you don’t want to do, just to make them happy.
        Totally agreed.

      • Yeah, that girl is doubtless better off without him (the article writer).
        when you commit to someone, you’re willing to do things that will make them happy even if they’re not your favorite things, and the reciprocation is them never asking you to do something they know you don’t want to do, just to make them happy.
        Totally agreed.

    • I thought of you as I wrote this, because I remember you thinking/writing about it, and I absolutely believe that it was your decision to make.
      This is really the crux of it:
      And if hubby had insisted I take his name I would not have married him b/c that would mean he wasn’t the right guy for me.
      You guys are happy and married regardless of what your names is/are/will be. This dumbass not only dumped a real live girlfriend because she had no interest in his (seriously crappy) (oh but also future and hypothetical) last name, but dared to announce to all women that they were castrating their future spouses or damning themselves to a life of spinsterhood if they didn’t rush to change their names.
      It’s like the way I interpret the end of Taming of the Shrew (and the way this great BBC modern adaptation starring Rufus Sewell did) – when you commit to someone, you’re willing to do things that will make them happy even if they’re not your favorite things, and the reciprocation is them never asking you to do something they know you don’t want to do, just to make them happy.

  2. Ugh.
    The subject of name changes came up once at work. I mentioned my ambivalence. (now former) boss said that if his wife had refused to take his name, he wouldn’t have married her. I said it was a good thing A. hadn’t said that to me, or I wouldn’t have married him.
    I suppose I can understand it a little in his case because his wife was previously married and I infer she took her ex-husband’s name, so if she’d been willing to take ex-husband’s name but not his, I can see why he’d hypothetically be a little put off by that. Unless he had a vile last name (which he doesn’t).
    But for the most part, I don’t defend it. And I defend him for that comment maybe 2%. And if hubby had insisted I take his name I would not have married him b/c that would mean he wasn’t the right guy for me.
    I did take his name for a variety of reasons. If I had it to do over, I might make a different choice, but I’m not going to go back now (too much hassle, man! Though he still maintains if I want to change both our names to a third name the offer is still good.) I still kind of feel like I sold out, and I applaud my friends who kept their names, and encourage would-be brides with qualms to keep their names (I tell them you can always change later but it’s hard to go back… my aunt kept her name for the first 20 years of marriage and only then did she change it). I do a little squee whenever I encounter a woman in my age bracket who kept her name. And it bugs me that I’m seen by people in general as part of the monolith of women who changed their names, part of that wave of invisible social pressure of “everybody does it”, and nobody will know why I did it.
    Seriously, as long as society lays less pressure on men to change their names than on women to change ours, they need to STFU about it and try to understand where we’re coming from. If they don’t understand it is their responsibility to try to understand rather than to spew their mindless chauvinism everywhere.

  3. kid_lit_fan says:

    OK, it’s not sporting to make fun of people’s names, but he’s offering his, and saying that the best he has to give his theoretical bride is a name that may as well be “Mrs. Michael Tinypeepee!” I mean, no, it doesn’t really, but there’s nothing about that name that inspires me to want it, even if I wanted the man it goes with! (And it doesn’t flow well with mine anyway!).
    On the other hand, Peg Bracken’s story about first husband’s proposal is rather romantic (it was the 40’s, mind you). She said “You’re a good, solid man, John Smith, your name suits you well” and he replied “You can have it, any time you want.” But she probably would’ve felt differently if she were dating him now.

    • See, that’s pretty sweet, and I approve of the “offering you my name/hand/heart” gesture in a sentimental, romantic way. I’m assuming John Smith wouldn’t have walked away from his gal had she said “oh, no, it’s fine for /you/ but…”

    • See, that’s pretty sweet, and I approve of the “offering you my name/hand/heart” gesture in a sentimental, romantic way. I’m assuming John Smith wouldn’t have walked away from his gal had she said “oh, no, it’s fine for /you/ but…”

    • Also, c’mon, it’s a /little/ sporting when someone is overcompensating in so many, many ways

    • Also, c’mon, it’s a /little/ sporting when someone is overcompensating in so many, many ways

  4. kid_lit_fan says:

    OK, it’s not sporting to make fun of people’s names, but he’s offering his, and saying that the best he has to give his theoretical bride is a name that may as well be “Mrs. Michael Tinypeepee!” I mean, no, it doesn’t really, but there’s nothing about that name that inspires me to want it, even if I wanted the man it goes with! (And it doesn’t flow well with mine anyway!).
    On the other hand, Peg Bracken’s story about first husband’s proposal is rather romantic (it was the 40’s, mind you). She said “You’re a good, solid man, John Smith, your name suits you well” and he replied “You can have it, any time you want.” But she probably would’ve felt differently if she were dating him now.

  5. Like so many things…
    …the taking of the name is now a quaint, archaic ritual, with little bearing on the reality of the modern age. No longer is a woman required to be married, nor is she required to tend a man’s house, nor is her family required to provide a dowry. All these customs are products of a bygone era, and, as such, are best relegated to the broom closet of history, along with anyone who holds them so dear, they would impose them on others.

    • Re: Like so many things…
      Agreed.
      The only insipid argument that popped up in the comments I could even think about respecting was the one where a woman said taking the husband’s name was a gesture to define their new family. But if that was the intent, then picking a new name for both parties is the only way to achieve that.

      • meopta says:

        A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…
        I dunno. Preserving my fathers name isn’t something I can care much about. Keeping a last name is such a symbolic issue with no real consequence. Is that dude a jerk? Yes. Do I think the ‘keep your name’ movement is worth the energy people spend on it? Not really. Maybe we should just go back before surnames and drop them all. Any point now that we claim a name is an arbitrary point in a womans history. Men used to change their names if they married up but that too fell out of fashion.

      • Re: A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…
        It’s the difference between me deciding I’d like my hair long again, and some guy telling me that I am now required to grow it long if I want to marry him.

      • meopta says:

        Re: A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…
        I’m not saying anyone should tell someone what to do – I am saying that this issue, the name one, gets more weight than I think it deserves. What does keeping ‘your’ name really do? It’s still a classification of patriarchy. It’s just your classification via assigned parentage instead of assigned spouse affiliation. Then what do you do with the kids, if you have any? Dad’s? Mom’s? Both? And then what do they do?
        Yea, it’s personal, yea people should make their own choices, but the Keeping Your Name movement is one of those aspects of feminism that are purely symbolic and apply mostly to a certain group of women.

      • Re: A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…
        It’s the difference between me deciding I’d like my hair long again, and some guy telling me that I am now required to grow it long if I want to marry him.

      • meopta says:

        A quick cup of instant outrage while the real stuff is brewing…
        I dunno. Preserving my fathers name isn’t something I can care much about. Keeping a last name is such a symbolic issue with no real consequence. Is that dude a jerk? Yes. Do I think the ‘keep your name’ movement is worth the energy people spend on it? Not really. Maybe we should just go back before surnames and drop them all. Any point now that we claim a name is an arbitrary point in a womans history. Men used to change their names if they married up but that too fell out of fashion.

    • Re: Like so many things…
      Agreed.
      The only insipid argument that popped up in the comments I could even think about respecting was the one where a woman said taking the husband’s name was a gesture to define their new family. But if that was the intent, then picking a new name for both parties is the only way to achieve that.

  6. Like so many things…
    …the taking of the name is now a quaint, archaic ritual, with little bearing on the reality of the modern age. No longer is a woman required to be married, nor is she required to tend a man’s house, nor is her family required to provide a dowry. All these customs are products of a bygone era, and, as such, are best relegated to the broom closet of history, along with anyone who holds them so dear, they would impose them on others.

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