Saturday, February 2, 2013

If it's not a big deal, YOU do it

Many women have decided not to take their husbands' last names when they marry. The trend has gone up and down throughout the past 60 years or so. I'm speaking mostly of North American culture. Many cultures across the world have no custom of changing names after marriage. Some even draw maternal bloodlines over paternal ones, which is wise, logically speaking. When a woman gives birth, you are 100% certain who the mother is. You can't say the same about the father, though thousands of generations and cultures have made this incredibly stupid mistake which has brought millions of people's family bloodlines into question. For most of us, it's not that big of a deal at the end of the day. You know you're both faithful to each other and, even if you're not, there's really not that much at stake in the grand scheme of things. You hire an attorney, you get a divorce, the sun rises tomorrow; but when entire empires and billions of dollars of riches depend on it, it seems pretty damn stupid to me. Just sayin'.

Personally, I've already resolved NOT to take my husband's name should I get married....unless his last name just happens to be something Flamethrower or von Awesomesauce or McKittylover. In that case, I might marry him JUST to have his name.

In any case, the beautiful truth is that no one should be obligated to change a part of themselves unless they want to, yet the pressure on women to do it is always threefold.....more like three-thousand fold. She's told that it will "just be easier," or that it's, "a silly fad not to," or that it's "really not a big deal," or that it's "just a name." Most tragically, she'll be told this by other women.

Her mother, her sister, her best friend, her other married friends, both of her grandmothers, his mother,  his sister, both of his grandmothers, all of his female friends and relatives and even random "advice" columnists that she's never even met will tell her that it's just the right thing to do for reasons they cannot altogether explain; but still, they "know" it's what's "right." Of course, the main reason they do this is to absolve themselves of the guilt of having made their own mistake in the past. Many of them didn't want to take their husbands' names, but gave in to everyone else's "advice."

Tragic though it may be, it is much less obnoxious than many men's perspective on the matter. First, comes the entitlement. It's the "normal" thing to do. It's what she's "supposed to do." It's what "everyone" does. Hence, most of them just assume that's what she'll do without even asking about it. If these men even think to ask her about it or she happens to bring it up, they love to just dismiss it, like she's just acting irrational and emotional because she's on her period or something. They love to say, "Why is she being so difficult? Why is she turning it into this big issue when it's clearly not one? It's just a name. It's not that big of a deal."

It almost seems like men think of it as some insult, "How dare she want to keep her own identity? How dare she not take MY name? It means she's not really committed to me!" Well, put the shoe on the other foot, bro. If it's not that big of a deal, if it's just a name, if it's just an emotional outburst, if it's the only thing that proves you two are really committed to each other, then why don't you take HER name?

Once in a while, you'll get a man who hears this and realizes exactly what a big deal is. He'll think about it for a moment and will see just how ridiculous he's being in expecting her to change a part of her identity "just because." He'll realize that, just because it's "normal," it's not right for everyone. Unfortunately, more often than not, the man just rolls his eyes and refuses to even think about changing his name because, to him, the notion is absolutely preposterous. His name and identity are sacrosanct. Her name and identity are just floating around space, waiting to be seized. Afterall, her maiden name is just another name that was forced upon her mother, whose maiden name was just forced upon her mother and so on and so forth.

....but what does that tell you? If it's just "preposterous" for a man to even CONSIDER changing his name, to me, it tells me exactly what a big deal it is and SHOULD be to ask a woman to take a man's name in marriage. It also tells me how deeply incorrect social programming's talons are buried beneath our skin.

So, I challenge you. I dare you. Give me ONE good reason that ANYONE should be obligated to take someeone else's name in marriage. Second, give me ONE good reason that, should this be a good idea, that the woman should be the one to do it.

You won't. You can't. There aren't any. There is merely a list of piss-poor excuses that people CLAIM are good reasons, but upon, say, three seconds of reasoning, can be easily eliminated.

Really, tell me, why SHOULD anyone have to change their name just because a wedding happens? Why SHOULD it be the woman? Just because generations of people before her made the same mistake? Just because her family wants her to? Just because her husband wants her to? Just because her husband's family wants her to? Just because society wants her to? Just because they might have kids? Just because it might make choosing the kids' names a little easier?

These are all really stupid reasons to do anything, let alone dictate how one will be referred to for the rest of her natural life (or at least the rest of his) unless they're getting married assuming they'll get divorced.

If women WANT to change their names, fine. Plenty of women like the idea. They think it's cute or sweet or traditional or some other romantic bullcrap. Some really do just think it will be easier. Some look forward to it. As long as it's what THEY really deep down in their hearts want to do, that's what they should do. The sad truth is, so many of them don't really want to take their husbands' names, but end up giving in because they're tired of everyone else's bullying. With all the anti-bulling campaigns out there, I don't think I need to explain why this is a bad thing.

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