I love my new colleagues; they’re bad-ass (sorry for the Americanism, bad-arse just looks wrong!). We have fab convo, lots of laughs and some good bants. One such recent convo turned to weddings, marriage and the hot topic of women changing their names.
You see, people have an opinion about women’s names. Or specifically, if they are ‘allowed’ to keep their own name and not change it to their husband’s name when they marry. Yep. In 2017.
Let’s just step back a moment. Now people are, I believe, free to call themselves whatever they choose. (Shout out to Friends’ Phoebe aka Princess Consuela Banana Hammock & her beloved husband Mr Crap Bag!!!). But what is going on when a husband thinks he has the right to expect, much less insist (?!) a woman – an actual human person with her own identity, character, challenges & accomplishments – takes his name when they marry.
I know married women who’ve changed their name to share their husband’s (crack on); I know married women who’ve kept their name (crack on again); I know women who’ve hyphenated their names -or like me, both spouses have cos, hey, there’s two of us getting married (again, crack on); & I know couples who’ve merged their name with their spouse’s (keep cracking on). So you get the gist: I know lots of combinations and personally, I love the freedom to be creative and not be bound by one specific tradition or societal expectation (I’m not good with either tbh).
But why, oh WHY, is it that the man – or even his parents or yours – feel they have the right & power to dictate the name by which a woman calls herself based on a patriarchal tradition of a wife’s identity being absorbed into her husband’s upon marriage? Wives are, thankfully, no longer a husband’s property so while the choice to share a family name, whether it’s his, hers, a combo, a new name, is understandable and lovely, it should be just that- a choice. And a choice is only really a choice if it is open & equal.
Recently I watched a superb play about homosexual UKIP members-yep! And within a few days of that I had an interesting Facebook chat about the woman Trump has appointed Deputy National Security Advisor (never thought I’d be typing ‘Trump’ & ‘National Security Advisor’ in the same sentence unless it was in the context of a scandal!). Anyway, the article we discussed was about her not speaking to her gay brother, even when he was dying (!!!), because she disapproved of his promiscuous lifestyle.
What’s been fascinating re the play is how surprised many people were to see that homosexuals can be right-wing, & even right-right wing, & even downright racist! Some people assumed, as many of us do, that once you’ve experienced adversity because of prejudice you’ll be predisposed to extend empathy to others. Hmm, a beautiful ideal but come on, we human beings could make Othering** an official, planet-wide sport! So with regards to racially intolerant homosexuals-who had experienced homophobia from some ethnic minorities & thus felt threatened & resentful at their presence in Britain-do we condemn them for their racial views or praise them for their work for sexual equality? Or can we-please-allow space for both?
Hates you vs Hates your views
While these guys have complex, competing tolerant & intolerant views, Trump’s mate does not…well, actually maybe she does-you tell me. She was understandably criticised in gay media outlets for her terrible behaviour to her brother but what caught my eye was the fact that her behaviour was implicitly linked to her being inappropriate for her job. Why? Her actions show she was-& maybe still is-a terribly disloyal, judgemental, unforgiving & unkind sister, but what’s that got to do with her job? If her private views don’t affect her work: why is this family fall out news? Isn’t this part of the same argument we’ve been making in support of homosexuals (and singles & divorcees before them) receiving the same basic respect & rights as heterosexuals? ie. If it’s private & not affecting their work leave them alone!
Now her behaviour is abhorrent to me but, as a liberal-ish chick, I believe we should be free to be as (legally) arsehole-ish in our private lives as we want to be! And when you are, I’ll ardently discuss, blog, & petition for you to change your views & behaviour. But I won’t condemn you for your them. (I may not be friends with you though…your loss!)
** Othering: labelling someone whom you regard as belonging to a lesser social group as ‘the Other’.