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Apparently I can't be a feminist because I changed my name when I married.

(463 Posts)
dustandfluff Wed 21-Nov-12 22:00:19

I heard someone (a feminist writer dunno who) on Radio 4 a few months ago saying women who change their names when they get married are not feminists.

. I have long been interested in feminism and women's rights. I appreciate the feminist arguments against changing your name. I had my reasons but I don't think that's relevant here. To me this sounds as though to "be" a feminist you have to meet a particular standard.

I think this is the kind of thing that puts a lot of women off the movement.

Opinion s anyone?

exoticfruits Mon 26-Nov-12 10:09:54

I keep saying -choice for all women! But apparently this is not on-we can only choose what certain women tell us we can choose.

Some of my choices are not feminist ones. If I made the feminist choice my DH would have done half the child care and I should keep my career going. The fact is that he would go up the wall at home and I adored being at home with under 5yr olds and wouldn't have missed it for any money. He is ambitious and I like a job where I am busy and interested but, as long as it earns a comfortable amount, I couldn't care less about money or status. Even when I started teaching I knew that I never wanted to be a Head or even a Deputy. If we happened to have been the other way around we would have done it the other way around. If I wanted to keep my name I would have kept it. If I wanted to be Ms I would use it. I don't need someone telling me what I should do.

Why should fit some quota where he is stuck at home climbing the walls and I go off to work dripping tears I don't know!

We do what suits us. DH is better at ironing and likes it so he irons -choices are not to do with others.

exoticfruits Mon 26-Nov-12 10:12:36

So basically, exotic, you think you should be able to do as you please and to call it feminism? And to have other real feminists applaud you for these choices

Yes and no!

I should do what I want-I don't need to call it feminism-some as explained isn't. Why should other feminists applaud me? confused

Blistory Mon 26-Nov-12 10:13:15

Feminism can't be about choice until there is equality - why is that so difficult to understand ? Whilst many posters may have very valid and considered reasons for the namechange, the fact remains that many women do it simply because it is expected and they encounter pressure if they don't. Changing your name should be an active choice not one that is the default position and is expected simply for historical reasons.

Whilst I chose to shave my legs today, it wasn't really a choice when you consider that my reason for doing so was because I couldn't face the prospect of sitting on public transport with hairy legs on view in case anyone commented or thought it was revolting. I don't think not shaving is revolting and can live quite happily with hair on my legs so why the hell did I do it ?

And yes, I shouldn't care what people think but I do and it's so deeply ingrained. So yes it was a choice but not a free choice so how much was it really my choice after all ?

HullyEastergully Mon 26-Nov-12 10:26:21

That's fine, as long as you don't call yourself a feminist, exotic and expect others to agree that you are one!

Cos er you ain't.

HullyEastergully Mon 26-Nov-12 10:26:43

Or, if you prefer, your thoughts and choices are not those of a feminist.

There's the rub, Blistory <also shaved her legs last night, and put mascara on this morning> We do so many things which are unfeminist without even thinking about it. It can be quite uncomfortable, even painful, to realise that I think.

namechangeguy Mon 26-Nov-12 10:43:01

So, for those with an understanding of feminism, why not just say 'stuff this', and stop shaving/tittivating/wearing 6 inch heels? Social pressure? How do you expect to change anything if you don't make a stand? It's almost as if you are saying that to wilfully do something harmful is better than doing it in ignorance.

I think that a lot of women do make a stand, and a lot more of us make a stand on some issues, but not all. It's hard to break out of a lifetime of conditioning. I think this is equally true for men and women.

namechangeguy Mon 26-Nov-12 10:59:34

Could somebody then explain to me who qualifies as a 'real feminist'? (as per NotGood's post at 10:08).

Blistory Mon 26-Nov-12 11:39:13

"So, for those with an understanding of feminism, why not just say 'stuff this', and stop shaving/tittivating/wearing 6 inch heels? Social pressure? How do you expect to change anything if you don't make a stand? It's almost as if you are saying that to wilfully do something harmful is better than doing it in ignorance"

Easy to say but when you realise just how much of a stance you would have to take in every day life and conversation, it gets draining. Can't blame anyone for picking their battles but there are somethings that are easy and I guess a lot of us think the name changing is a no brainer to take a stance on.

It's the assertion that a feminist choice is being exercised that is annoying most on here from what I can see. You can choose to do something non feminist without rejecting the feminist theory behind it but when you choose to do it, and continue to believe that choice alone makes it feminist, well, that's where it no longer makes sense and your understanding of feminism is called into question.

seeker Mon 26-Nov-12 12:17:03

A feminist is someone who, when she makes choices, or, in fact, does anything, considers the impact, not just on herself, but on other women and the way other women are perceived. It does not become a feminist choice just becase a woman makes it - women are quite capable of making anti feminist choices!

MiniTheMinx Mon 26-Nov-12 12:40:50

Someone made the point that changing your name is no worse than keeping your father's name with no analysis of why we carry our father's name.

Changing your name perpetuates this problem over and over again. You children will carry their father's name.

Christian names are interesting....christian because children were christened and given their name in church, when church records were the only records of birth and death. The name is given by the parents and sanctified by the church!

Children would be known as "clementine" son of........smith (smithy as in shoes horses) a way of distinguishing man's property rights over his children and his wife.

So unless women actively seek to become the chattels of their husband why change their name to his? because to do so locks the practice into perpetuality.

Actually a sock in the eye for men, must surely be that once a child is registered and given it's LEGAL name, the child becomes a legal entity owned by the state!

But then that begs the question whether the "legal person" is the same as the actual man/woman/child. If the two are separate as they are under law the good news is, do what you like grin

NotGoodNotBad Mon 26-Nov-12 12:43:25

Ooh, I made the point and now I'm finding it tricky to answer! Easier I think to say what feminism is that what a feminist is. So in my book, feminism is about equality between men and women in terms of, for example

- voting rights
- rights to property ownership
- salary
- rights to self-determination (marrying who you want, not being forced to carry and give birth to children you don't want, etc)
- right to an education
- sharing of housework and childcare

As things stand, in nearly all cases "equality" equates to improving the rights of women rather than improving the rights of men. To my mind it also includes responsibilities, e.g. taking responsibility for yourself financially, though I guess this would be more controversial. Also, biological considerations should not be lead to unequal treatment, e.g. if women get 6 months maternity leave so they can breastfeed, men also get 6 months paternity leave, not a paltry 2 weeks or whatever they get now.

A feminist, then, is someone who believes that women should have equality with men, and tries to act accordingly.

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