Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pondering

So, while considering the anecdata of how some men seem to get really affronted when a) their partners refuse to take their name and b) it is suggested that the children take on the mother's name, I wondered how really difficult it would be on a man's psyche to have his wife's name.

Somehow, I get the sense that not only is it rather an affront, a challenge to convention, but it is also downright insulting to them. But why?

Do men carry the pregnancy? No.

Do men do majority of the housework? My dad does, but he's an exception, not the rule. There is the burden of the Second Shift, and I have no doubt it affects women globally.

Do men do majority of the child-raising? Not that I know of, or else we wouldn't be so surprised when we hear of fathers taking an active hand in handling children.

Do men do anything else other than bring home money, which more and more women are doing these days? Not that I can think of, but hey, I could be wrong!

This might be deal-breaker material.

5 comments:

  1. "Do men do anything else other than bring home money?"

    I'm disappointed, Jha.

    It's difficult for anyone who doesn't *think* - man or woman - to consider alternatives to the status quo.

    And yet you're continuing by citing reasons women should be *entitled*? Actually, you're going beyond that and reducing the role of men to bread-winners and sperm-donors.

    I'm a single dad with two boys who's proud to be a loving, masculine, committed, engaged, unashamed and unafraid father, and I find this "defensible because it's feminist and feminism is okay these days" argument to be sickening.

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  2. I used stereotypes the way anti-feminists grasp at stereotypes to make their points, to ponder, why would people who use these stereotypes in which men do little bit earn money and participate little in child-raising insist on naming their children after them? So of course, when arguing the flip-side, the argument itself can't be feminist at all, but anti-feminist.

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  3. Okay, my terminology may well indeed be wrong. I'm certainly not an expert in feminist studies.

    My point, however: the typical argument I can envision for a man to insist on a wife or a child taking his surname is "that's the way it's always done." Which holds a lot of water for people who don't think/question, and no so much for the others.

    Do you believe that women have an entitlement for their children to bear their surname (is that what you were arguing)? Or, rather, do you believe that a child should be named after the parent who ... what? Parents more? Child-rears more? Does more? And that, 9 times out of 10, is the woman?

    I know couples that have taken the paternal surname, others that have taken the maternal surname, and others that have made up a new surname and both partners adopted it.

    You don't have to justify "I'd like to keep my own name" or "I'd like my children to carry my surname" with entitlements and value judgments. You're allowed to say, "I want my children to have my name because I WANT IT."

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  4. I wasn't arguing that women were entitled to have their children bear their name. I was wondering why would anti-feminists have such a resistance to children taking their mother's names, particularly since in the anti-feminist's world, it's the women who do the brunt of the child-raising. (Granted, this piece was not the best I could have written on the subject, but it was a thought I wanted to get down before I forgot. I think about this subject a lot.)

    As much as we say that we shouldn't have to justify keeping our names / taking another name / other options, the thing is, in many cultures, the overwhelming tendency is for children to take their father's name - often just because the father wants it, or because it's just done. Women still face a lot of resistance when they want to keep their own name, or do something alternative to the status quo. Not to mention, the overwhelming trouble men have when they're the ones who want to change their names.

    And yes, we shouldn't have to justify this stuff! But when we try to do something alternative to the status quo, we'd still have to give justification, excuses, explanations - and there are tons of stories of women who keep their name and are considered to have something wrong with them because of it, or they love their husbands less, or something equally ridiculous. So I simply thought, if we're going to have to make all these justifications for the status quo, I wonder what the status quo supporters would have to say when asked to justify their own decisions.

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