All in a name

January 21, 2008 at 2:26 pm (feminism, love, sexist) (, , , )

Should a woman take her husband’s name when she marries?

This is one of those questions that can evoke so many emotions – irritations, anger, despair, amusement. . . it all depends on which side you’re on.

It’s fine for women who want it but I won’t take someone else’s surname. I know many of my married friends have taken their husband’s surnames and they’re all independent, intelligent women so it doesn’t mean that if you do take his name that you suddenly become braindead.

But I can’t see why I should do it to if I ever decide to take that step.

Usually any discussion about this ends in an argument. My dad (with whom I had this argument yesterday) believes your marriage will never be a union if you don’t take your husband’s name. I of course think that’s crap.

Why should your bond be defined by whose name you have? Why does not having your husband’s surname make your marriage any less solid? And why should you be the one who has to change your name?

My argument is that I am not the property of any man so why should I take his name? I know many women don’t see it that way (and that’s fine) but I already have a name and don’t need another, thank you very much.

If the whole ‘sharing one life’ thing is so important why can’t he take your surname? Because we’re still a patriarchal, male-dominated society and that kind of thing would never happen, that’s why. And in my mind that’s just another reason to not do it – the sheer sexism in this way of thinking is simply too much for me.

My partner, fortunately, understands. But my dad and others like him just don’t get it. It’s not just about a name; it’s about a way of thinking and an attitude towards your life.

What do you think?

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Weddings for wimps?

November 22, 2007 at 1:47 pm (feminism, marriage)

It’s that time of my life when many of my friends are getting married, are married or are planning to get married. In a few days I head off to my third wedding of the year so I read an article about marriage piece with interest.

I always doubt people who start with “I’m not a (racist, sexist, ageist, etc).” It usually means they are whatever they’re saying they’re not. Anyway, I digress. In this article, Wedded Blisters, this woman writes about marriage being a form of torture, basically. It’s an awful, shocking, medieval way of making prisoners of women the world over.

I find this article hugely problematic. Her arguments seem bitter (even though she insists they’re not). She uses statistics and figures as if they’re bullets but, bar one or two, they all seem rather petty and vague. Clutching at straws comes to mind.

She also victimises the woman. Makes her the weakling. As if she has no mind of her own and implying she can’t make choices. This is 2007 darling. Wake up and smell the freshly brewed java – we’re not the weak wimps men would believe us to be.

Women make choices and they choose to get married. I’m obviously not speaking of women in countries where forced marriages are the norm and prepubescent girls are still raped by older men who marry them. But then again, neither is she.

I’m no cheerleader for marriage – I think there are many couples who live more fulfilling, satisfied lives without ever having put a ring on their finger. People can be committed without having to declare it to all and sundry. But again, I digress.

If a woman chooses to marry, it’s her choice and that choice could be influenced by a great many things.

Perhaps she’s following a tradition. We’re in an age where our parents are still old-school and traditional. It’s expected of us to get married. Our parents believe in the institution because it’s what they know. If she wants to have her dad walk her down the aisle because it makes him happy who are you to tell her she should just go ahead and break his heart? So if a woman decides to marry to make her parents happy who are we to cast stones?

Or maybe she wants to get married because she thinks it’s the right thing to do. Maybe she feels that it would be the beginning of a great, satisfying relationship with her partner, her soulmate, her equal. So who are you to tell her she’s being a dumbass weakling?

The problem with people who pretend to be feminists is that they give the rest of us a bad name. This writer does not do anything to advance the cause of women; instead she just views them as any old sexist male would do.

So do I think she’s talking a load of crap? Well, yes, I do.

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Why women?

July 30, 2007 at 8:34 am (feminism, women of the year award, women's day)

Dilemma: is it a good thing to have awards for women?
This is something I struggle with. After attending the Shoprite/Checkers/SABC2 Women of the Year awards I once again grappled with this issue.
The women there were amazing and I was completely blown away by what some of them were doing. It really is astonishing what people can do when they put their mind to it.
So on the one hand, yes, it’s a good thing to highlight when women do something well. But on the other hand, do we need to have a special ceremony to praise them?
Would we do the same for men? And if not, does this not mean we still think women should be given an extra push to do well or be noticed?
Are we not still regarding women as second-class citizens if we make special awards and public holidays for them? Why the special status if are supposedly equal to men?
I’m not dumb enough to think that women have broken all barriers. Really, I know we still have a very long way to go.
But have we not gone far enough to now start levelling the playing fields? We’re not as hapless as we were 70 or so years ago, surely?
By this, I exclude all the downtrodden, poor, abused women in our world. And this is fine because no amount of special awards or public holidays is going to help them anyway.

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The grey one

July 20, 2007 at 2:11 pm (feminism, hair)

I’m not that worried about getting old (although I suspect it would have more gravitas if I happened to be older than 24 when saying that).

I spotted another greysie so it means the ageing process has begun. Hmmm…will I be completely grey by the time I’m 30, I wonder?
Not that it would bother me, mind you. Mrs M is probably the only person who would understand this but the idea of having grey hair doesn’t faze me.

I have never dyed my hair – ever – so probably won’t start now. I’m probably the most low-maintenance person when it comes to haircare. In fact, I’d prefer if there was less hair for which to care. I simply have too much.But I digress. My point (not that you’d know from all the ramblings above) is you shouldn’t be defined by the colour of your hair.
You shouldn’t have to worry that having grey hairs will somehow diminish your standing in society/peer group/etc.
Does being older make you less worthy? Sadly, too many people still think so. And even though I have nothing against women who do dye their hair (looks quite lovely on most), I’m sticking a middle finger to those who will judge me by the colour of my hair.
It’s not as if I’m blonde…

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Survival

June 1, 2007 at 8:38 am (feminism, sexist, women's rights)

Julia was at her wide-mouthed best last night (ja, I watched Mona Lisa Smile on etv!). But this movie disturbed me more than I care to admit.
If it is historically more or less accurate – and I suspect it is – I am so eternally grateful I was not alive in the 1950s. School nurses being fired for handing out contraception; university (!) students having to take lessons on how to look after their husbands and kids; 30 years old being seen as old maid… Oh, I feel faint just thinking of it.
I can’t imagine not being able to choose whether I want to be on contraceptives or have an abortion. Not being able to choose what I want to do or having my own thoughts. Unable to do anything on my own and being labeled an outcast if I have free will. Having to get married so young – then just being married and nothing else. And having to take classes on how to run a home/please your man? In his dreams, ja.
I just can’t imagine that life, the injustice of it all. How did women survive? How did they get through it?
How did they go to bed at night thinking, “Wow, what a great life, I’m so happy.”
How could things have gone on like this?

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