Archive for the ‘surnames’ Category

The surname changing thing has loooooong fascinated me as a feminist and the conversation is back, again, and it’s as lively as ever.

From Jill Filipovic in The Guardian  with “Why should married women change their names? Let men change theirs” :

That is fundamentally why I oppose changing your name (and why I look forward to the wider legalization of same-sex marriage, which in addition to just being good and right, will challenge the idea that there are naturally different roles for men and women within the marital unit). Identities matter, and the words we put on things are part of how we make them real. There’s a power in naming that feminists and social justice activists have long highlighted. Putting a word to the most obvious social dynamics is the first step toward ending inequality. Words like “sexism” and “racism” make clear that different treatment based on sex or race is something other than the natural state of things; the invention of the term “Ms” shed light on the fact that men simply existed in the world while women were identified based on their marital status.

Your name is your identity. The term for you is what situates you in the world. The cultural assumption that women will change their names upon marriage – the assumption that we’ll even think about it, and be in a position where we make a “choice” of whether to keep our names or take our husbands’ – cannot be without consequence. Part of how our brains function and make sense of a vast and confusing universe is by naming and categorizing. When women see our names as temporary or not really ours, and when we understand that part of being a woman is subsuming your own identity into our husband’s, that impacts our perception of ourselves and our role in the world. It lessens the belief that our existence is valuable unto itself, and that as individuals we are already whole. It disassociates us from ourselves, and feeds into a female understanding of self as relational – we are not simply who we are, we are defined by our role as someone’s wife or mother or daughter or sister.

And from Kate Harding with “Why I lose my mind every time we have the name conversation”:

Oh, I know, I know, Jill’s piece was judgey and shamey and insensitive ill-conceived, and it’s really important that we maintain our focus on that, until we all get sick of talking about it again.

Nope. In addition to the fact that I disagree with all of that, I submit that it doesn’t matter one bit what Jill said, specifically, the other day. Because this conversation happens, in exactly this way, every time. No matter who starts it or how they frame it, the people who want to examine the persistence of this fucking canonical anti-feminist tradition are shouted down by women who took their husband’s names and thus don’t think this conversation is fair to them.


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As always, I have already posted a good number of these links on twitter but in case you don’t do twitter but do do links here’s them and much more –

Gets Too Obsessed with “Mommy, they are just like me”:

My oldest son is six years old and in love for the first time.  He is in love with Blaine from Glee.

For those who don’t know Blaine is a boy…a gay boy, the boyfriend of one of the main characters, Kurt.

prymface with Young Mums in 2011:

So, after the success of last years Young Mums in 2010 post I thought I’d have another go at putting together a collection of Prymface stories, events and challenges that was 2011 for young mums.

Emily of the biology files with Why growing up as an American female has left me wary of men:

Have you grown up female in the United States*? I did. I think about my experiences and how much they might have informed my current views, my sense of who I am, my wariness about men combined in complex ways with how very much I like men. I think that many men who are perfectly good people who respect women feel targeted, named, included by association when women complain about how men treat them, accost them in elevators or on sidewalks, behave too persistently in bars, and otherwise make nuisances or worse out of themselves. When I complain about these things and heartily agree that yes, all I want to do is take a walk, I don’t mean to encompass all men in these condemnations. Yet, I’d imagine that unless you grew up female, you may not have a complete understanding of why women–some women, at any rate–react this way to such behaviors.

The men currently in my life, the ones I include there volitionally and mutually, are all thoughtful people who’d never follow a woman on the street, catcall at her, or otherwise stress her out simply because she exists and is out in public. It’s not these men who are the ones of whom I’m wary. It’s the men I do not know. And there are reasons for that.

Peggy Orenstein with Should the world of toys be gender-free?:

At issue, then, is not nature or nurture but how nurture becomes nature: the environment in which children play and grow can encourage a range of aptitudes or foreclose them. So blithely indulging — let alone exploiting — stereotypically gendered play patterns may have a more negative long-term impact on kids’ potential than parents imagine. And promoting, without forcing, cross-sex friendships as well as a breadth of play styles may be more beneficial. There is even evidence that children who have opposite-sex friendships during their early years have healthier romantic relationships as teenagers.

Traditionally, toys were intended to communicate parental values and expectations, to train children for their future adult roles. Today’s boys and girls will eventually be one another’s professional peers, employers, employees, romantic partners, co-parents. How can they develop skills for such collaborations from toys that increasingly emphasize, reinforce, or even create, gender differences? What do girls learn about who they should be from Lego kits with beauty parlors or the flood of “girl friendly” science kits that run the gamut from “beauty spa lab” to “perfume factory”?

Greta Christina with Puritan Pundits Should Chill Out – Here Are 5 Reasons I’m Happy I’ve Had Lots of Casual Sex:

The phenomenon of women who have sex for its own sake seems to baffle many people. It’s widely believed that women have sex for love, commitment, poor self-control, to manipulate men, to please men, to make babies, to sooth their low self-esteem, and just about any reason at all other than their own pleasure. (While men, of course, are rutting horndogs who just want to stick it in the nearest wet hole available.) Sex, according to this trope, is by its nature a commodity that women possess and men are trying to obtain… and the phenomenon of women who are “giving it away,” who are defying these assumptions and treating sex as a pleasurable interaction between equals, is making the media piss all over themselves.

Good News with New Dominionists: Meet the Christian Couple Behind the Right’s Most Viral Videos:

When we first meet at a mutual friend’s birthday party, I have no idea who they are. She describes her politics as “Ron Paul-Christian,” and he says he would never support Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey in national politics because his obesity reflects a “character flaw.” A friend pulls me aside for context: “I wouldn’t talk about politics with them. They are serious,” she says, “and extremely influential among young conservatives.”

Later, I am shocked to find out that Molotov, 32, and Patricia, 31, aren’t just known among young conservatives; they regularly pop up on media watchdog sites like Right-Wing Watch and Media Matters. The Mitchells’ company, Illuminati Pictures, makes savvy use of social media to communicate their blend of right-wing Christianity and Tea Party politics. Their video, “I Invented the Internet,” garnered millions of views and introduced the Obama birth-certificate conspiracy theory to the wider conservative world. In that video, Molotov calmly demonizes what he calls the “black liberation theology” he associates with Obama.

Sady Doyle with What to do about the nanny?:

The What To Do About The Nanny genre has rules: It will citethe author’s own life as a cautionary example of what feminism hath wrought. It will touch upon the lower orders–community college students, single black mothers, the nanny–and explain how they’re relevant to the upper-middle-class. It will be about “gender,” but focus on the ladies’-magazine variety of female concerns: motherhood, marriage, dating. And it will shame upper-middle-class women for their ambition–and simultaneously imply that they, the women who can afford nannies and have seen the inside of rambling Cape Cod beach houses, are the only people literate enough to care about women’s progress.

Emily Manuel with Why does the media still refer to “Bradley” Manning? The curious silence around a transgender hero:

Despite this mounting evidence, Manning’s lawyers and supporters continued to make no mention of any preference for female identification, pronouns or the name Breanna, leaving Manning’s likely transgender status something of an open secret, and posing journalists with a conundrum: either the logs are true, and then we should be respectfully following APA protocol for transgender people and using female pronouns and possibly the name Breanna, or they are false and we should not.  Whether they believed in the logs’ veracity or not (and odds are, most who believe Manning to be a hero do), I have not found a single media source who appears to have considered the possibility of writing about Manning as a woman.

Harvest Bird with The needle and the damage done:

I had mantras, straws at which to clutch, that worked for some of the time. In moments of lucidity I could laugh at their disparate origins. A partly-remembered maxim from a former counsellor: that the ability to cope with uncertainty is a sign of mental health. Viv Richards, murmuring to the interviewer in Fire on Babylon that “I always backed myself”. Back yourself to raise this baby, I murmured in turn, not actually saying a word but imagining myself speaking through gritted teeth. The universal message of my colleagues, that they thought us best equipped among parents to take care of a child with the disability the numbers offered us. People wouldn’t consistently say that just to be nice, I reasoned, even in a workplace culture that prizes niceness above many other things.

Up and Down We Go with Dear customer who stuck up for his little brother:

you thought I didn’t really notice. But I did. I wanted to high-five you.
Yesterday I had a pair of brothers in my store. One was maybe between 15-17. He was a wrestler at the local high school. Kind of tall, stocky and handsome. He had a younger brother, who was maybe about 10-12 years old. Thy were talking about finding a game for the younger one, and he was absolutely insisting it be one with a female charcter. I don’t know how many of y’all play games, but that isn’t exactly easy. Eventually, I helped the brothers pick a game called Mirror’s Edge. The youngest was pretty excited about the game, and then he specifically asked me.. “Do you have any girl color controllers?”

Phoebe Holmes with Being Retarded:

All around me, people use the word retarded without a second thought.  Sometimes, I’ll say “Um, dude, really?” and they’ll say “Oops, my bad!  But really!  I was being so retarded!”

Sometimes, I let it slide.  I realize that it’s a word that’s ingrained in our society’s vocabulary and people use it without a second thought to its meaning.

Caroline Narby with Double Rainbow: On Lisbeth Salander:

If Lisbeth is autistic, what does that mean? She’s a very visible and well-known queer autistic character, then, but what comes of that? Her role as an avenging Fury is that much more magnified, since disabled people are far more likely than non-disabled people to be victims of violence and sexual assault. Lisbeth is not just acting against the violent force of misogyny, but against ableism and homophobia. Her interactions with her odious financial guardian demonstrate the intersection of those two forces: he makes it clear that her same-sex relationships are part of her overall inability to function like a “normal” person. For a woman who is disabled or otherwise deemed “unsound,” non-heterosexual and/or non gender-normative behavior is considered part of her pathology. The very fact that she is considered mentally unfit and is therefore a ward of the state goes from being a plot device (it’s part of a conspiracy to control and silence her, connected to her father, a former Soviet spy under the protection of the Swedish government) to being “too real.” It becomes a commentary on the systemic denial of disabled people’s agency and autonomy.

Motherhood in NYC with New Worry:

Recently I’ve been very worried that I’m too old to be a mommy blogger.

I know that I look as young and stunning as the day you first read that blog, but the ugly truth is that I’ve been aging. Behind your back.

Well, now that I think about it, it’s not that I am too old, but it’s my kids who are too old. But I’ll be damned if I’m too exhausted to edit the first three sentences of this post. Old age and all.

My children are 13 and 10, so we are past a lot of the stuff that mommy blogging is made of.

Or should be.

Garland Gray with Question: Do you find whipping out a boob to feed a baby in the middle of a grocery store is appropriate?:

1. YES. Also, lawful. Also, God gave us all eyelids and necks for a reason. Close the former or turn the latter.

2. Do I care if my child sees another woman’s breasts? NO.

Annie Urban with Moms Want to See Breastfeeding on Sesame Street:

Comments on recent posts on Care2.com about breastfeeding certainly show that the need to normalize breastfeeding is urgent. Too many people still compare it to urinating (breastmilk is food, not waste) or to sex (nursing is feeding, not sexual activity). In response to the “what if a child sees THAT?” questions from those against nursing in public, most breastfeeding advocates will argue that is exactly what needs to happen. Children, both young children and teenagers, need to see babies being breastfed. If parents take the time to explain to their children that breasts are used to nourish babies, then perhaps boys and girls will understand that breasts are not simply sexual objects.

All it takes is reinstating a few simple scenes like this one from the 1970s to help children understand how babies are fed.

Since welcoming her sons Miles, 6, and Frederick, 3, actress Mayim Bialik seems to have become the celebrity voice for attachment parenting.

The former Blossom star is open about her parenting decisions, from extended breastfeeding to co-sleeping, and now she’s set to share her experience as a mom with the masses in a new book titled Beyond the Sling.

These days I’m a pretty hearty soul. I have a fair degree of equanimity that has been hard-won. Still, I’m only human. And as I pen this I’ve just returned from a lunch date with old family friends. I found myself, quite suddenly, stuck in a corner (literally and figuratively) while these old friends argued toward me about

Would Steven Spielberg adapt Herge’s racist views (“of his times”) expressed in Tintin in the Congo to make a movie in 2012 and market that movie to kids?

Of course not. No one would see it. People would be horrified. Herge’s racist views are universally recognized as the aberration that they are. Why is Herge’s “dated” sexism celebrated in a loyal adaptation from one of our most acclaimed directors?

The continual viewing of stereotypical representations of both males and females cannot help but have an impact on the way that children develop their own ideas about what it means to be a boy or a girl.

Rachel Fudge with a review of Rad Dad:

Although this new collection features work by some undeniably cool cats—like iconic punk rocker Ian MacKaye, hip hop chronicler Jeff Chang, and skater/photographer Mark Whiteley, to name just a few—what makes the titular dads rad is not their tattoos, subcultural street cred, or half-pipe prowess. It’s actually way more radical than that: These are men who are deeply invested in questioning and challenging what coeditor Tomas Moniz terms “the social stereotypes of fathering that for so long have been used to justify gender-specific parental roles.” If that sounds a wee bit dry or self-righteous, don’t stop reading. The contributors may be earnest, but didactic they are not.

Womanist Musings with Shit White Girls Say… to Black Girls:

Any Black woman can tell you a multitude of stories of overtly racist things said to them by their White girlfriends and this video montage hits quite a few of the most common.  It start the talented and outrageously funny Franchesca Leigh Ramsey. For those White people who are shocked by this video, yes, White people do at times say the most racist things.

A bee of a certain age with Raising feminists:

My partner and I are rearing three wonderful girls. We’re doing our best to help them to develop enquiring, critical, engaged minds, and a sense of justice, and a desire to be good people, who care for themselves and for others. But much as I would like to, I don’t think I can raise them to be feminists.

The reason is straightforward. If we are able to help our children to become independent thinkers, then feminism is a choice they must come to on their own. My guess and my hope is that each of them will develop her own commitment to feminism, but it must be their own commitment, not mine.

Echidne of the snakes with A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet:

Now here’s an interesting take on the question whether a divorced woman should be allowed to keep her ex-husband’s last name. It’s not her name but his name! He only lent it out for the duration of the marriage!

Set this against the background of the still-dominant tradition that women should relinquish their last names at marriage and you come to a very odd conclusion where a woman’s last name is something that should change back and forth, depending on what man defines her family membership.

And another from Echidne with New York Times. I’m Pointing the Finger at You:

I’m very annoyed by the kind of articles, quite common in the so-called women’s sections, where the writing seems to have gone like this:

1. I have a plot idea! We are going to say that all women now wear false eye-lashes.
2. I’m going to find some data that seems to back up my argument that this is a trend. Anything will suffice! If the sale of false eye-lashes has doubled in Dinkytown (from two pairs to four pairs, say), then I have data for a trend!
3. But most of the piece will be interviews with women who wear false eye-lashes now and how that is a statement of feminist intention and something that they really want to do. (These are real women, probably, telling their stories. The crime is that the stories are used as evidence to prop up the idea of a trend, even though anecdotes can be found on almost any behavior if one searches.)

The Guardian with Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration:

I definitely don’t have rules – I’m pretty disorganised. In fact, I often have to guilt-trip myself into sitting down to write. It is so easy to let your life get filled up with other stuff – cooking, cleaning, going to the bank, looking after your baby. These everyday things do come through in my songwriting, though. Most of my songs are defined by a sense of loneliness, of isolation, that I probably get from spending a lot of time on my own.

The little images that I get from sitting alone in my apartment – the way the light is falling through the window; the man I just saw walk by on the other side of the street – find their way into snatches of lyrics. I write in short spurts – for five, 10, 15 minutes – then I pace around the room, or go and get a snack.

guerrilla mama medicine with Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the President?:

Miles Davis to Nancy Reagan at a White House dinner in 1987 after she’d inquired as to what he’d done with his life to merit an invitation.

Eh this is completely wrong. He was actually quite fond of the Reagans. It was at a White House dinner however. Here is what actually happened. From his autobiography.

The photo that has to be seen to believed at UNapproachable Black Chick.

This from Something Changed and I want Jarvis Cocker to love my blog, too.

further down the rabbit hole with Comments on Disability Does Not An Unfit Parent Make:

I am a disabled parent, physically and mentally. A disabled parent of a disabled child, no less. I will live the next ~12 years, longer if I choose to have more children, worrying that my child will be taken from me by my TAB ex-partner who is constantly looking for ways to denigrate my parenting, or that my future children will be taken from me by authorities who believe that my partner (also disabled) and I are unfit parents. It’s fucking terrifying. It frightens me more than almost anything.

In a garden.. somewhere with Division of labour:

I have long believed that a happy partnership means that both partners have to contribute fairly equally to the household and that no one should be left with the worst job of all: monitoring the other’s contribution.

To make this possible I think a fairly clear division of labour can help to reduce the amount of boring negotiations over household chores.

This is roughly how we have come to divide ours (for now, obviously things will change as kids grow etc)…

Vanity Fair with a look back at two decades of leading men in their magazine.

really, really, really trying with This was the best summer ever, the seagull gushed..:

“This was the best summer ever,” the seagull gushed, watching her as she dangled her legs off the edge of the pier.

“Could you tell me why that is,” she wondered, looking at the water in which the seagull was reflected. His reflection was broken into thin, detached ribbons of seagull.

He looked at her like he was confused. It was his way of saying no.

Brea Tremblay with The Best Time I Went to a Sheena Easton Concert:

Even a hint of “Happy Holidays” made Mom crazy, because we were Evangelical Christians.

Though, admittedly, we were pretty terrible at it. We were lazy, we were undisciplined, we abandoned abortion protests for bagel runs. That’s probably why my folks tried to pass by obsessing over the details. Growing up, my little sister Brittany and I weren’t allowed jeans, TV, music, or the Sweet Valley High books, because Mom thought the girls on the cover looked slutty.

Then we moved to the suburbs when I turned 13, a teenager in a world aching to corrupt and seduce me, and my parents suddenly got very worried that I’d rebel against the deprivation by shooting Nine Inch Nails into my veins or something. To head me off, they got way too enthusiastic about what they believed to be safe, secular pop culture.

Adrian Chen with Other People’s Facebook Photos of You are the Worst:

What makes the hideousness of other people’s Facebook pictures of yourself so jarring is the contrast with the perfection of your own, painstakingly curated pictures. In the pictures I posted, I look like the hip, millionaire co-founder of a chain of smoothie restaurants where the gimmick is you can order ahead with an iPhone app.

And if you want to die and go to vintage heaven.. then introducing the Thompson Family.

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Image credit

I love this idea, were Bill and I rich we would definitely build a house with a bridge. Practically speaking it is kind of fantastic but I also really like the symbolism of ‘together but seperate’. I guess our own ‘bridge’ has been not getting married, not sharing bank accounts, not changing my name, stuff like that.

Although right now Bill and I are totally in love with small house living (constraints really inspire creativity and togetherness), so it feels funny to be momentarily fantasizing about owning two big houses. And nice for us to love small houses since the house we bought is small. The whole fashionableness of the ‘simple living’ movement has previously irritated me. But we use a lot of public transport, we have one car and not two, we have a small house with a single open-plan living space (kitchen/study/dining room/living room), we are vegetable gardening, Bill fixes and makes things a lot himself, we buy and scavenge a bit second-hand, we enrol our children in only one extra-curricula activity each a year, we dress Cormac in a lot of Lauca’s old clothes (yes, even the pink ones)..  and look, we’re not cheap and limited by our budget, we’re fashionable and ethical.

Anyway, my favourite part of that New York Times article is this:

Ms. Lanahan, whose mother, Frances, was the only child of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, had been a Washington debutante and studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design. She married at 24, in 1972, had twin sons and a daughter and was divorced in 1988.

Being able to casually drop that into an article mid-way through shows a real ability to not gush over the F. Scott Fitzgerald connection, an ability I would not have. If you have been meaning to read The Great Gatsby but never have, DO IT. Read it because it is every bit as good as everybody says and you need to experience that for yourself (afterwards read a study guide on the novel and realise that there is even more to that great novel than you realised), and read it before that wretched movie comes out and ruins the imagery for you. Then read Tender Is The Night and marvel at how an off-the-rails alcoholic could somehow not only write something so accomplished but also observe so beautifully the decline of an off-the-rails alcoholic, as one of his central characters is just that.

Here are some quotes from Tender Is The Night:

“When people are taken out of their depths they lose their heads, no matter how charming a bluff they put up”.

“Then why did you come, Nicole? I can’t do anything for you anymore. I’m trying to save myself.”

“Good manners are an admission that everybody is so tender that they have to be handled with gloves. Now, human respect–you don’t call a man a coward or a liar lightly, but if you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what should be respected in them.”

“England was like a rich man after a disastrous orgy who makes up to the household by chatting with them individually, when it is obvious to them that he is only trying to get back his self-respect in order to usurp his former power.”

“We can’t go on like this–or can we?….What do you think?… Some of the time I think its my fault–I’ve ruined you.”

See, brilliant?

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From a Mens Rights Activist quoted here.

If you hyphenate your child’s last name, well its just pathetic. It means the mother was an uncompromising shrew.

Yep, and proud of it.

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Part 1,  Part 2 and Part 3 are here. This is more of the presentation I gave at this motherhood conference. My presentation looked at some of the big themes I see coming out of all the responses I’ve received to my 10 questions about your feminist motherhood. This particular section of the presentation was really interesting.. exactly what is ‘feminist parenting’? What does it look like? How do you know you’re doing feminist parenting?

This post is on how parents defined their feminist parenting:

  • “I’m not so sure my mothering IS feminist.”
  • “As a mother I was and am straightforward about being marginalised by society for being a working class mother. So, I ‘outed’ every instance where this happened to my son (who is now 21), so he would be in no doubt about what my place was in society and, by associating, his place as a working class male. Also I was very fierce about violence against women, and to the best of my knowledge my son has never hit a woman”. (Several mothers who identified as working class talked about the importance of identifying intersection and training their children to cope with the multiple oppressions).
  • “I wish I could say that my objection to patriarchal authoritarianism has translated into an approach to child-rearing that is gentle, reciprocal, and respectful. Let me tell you, though, I yell way too much. I pull rank all the time. I’m always indirectly playing the Bigger Than You Are card. I hate it. I also would like to claim that my experience as a mother has made me more politically active, more involved in my community. No. My experience as a mother has made me tired and cranky and frustrated.”
  • And from another mother: “Other feelings of failure – the first time you balance wanting your son to be whoever he wants to be and wanting to protect him from teasing if he decides he wants to wear pink to kindergarten. The catching of myself disliking my belly in the mirror. The moment when my three year old son told my woman dermatologist that she didn’t look like a doctor”.
  • A lot of respondents defined their feminist parenting as questioning/re-inventing body image and relationships with food.
  • It was also defined as sex education, bodily autonomy or rejection of pornography.
  • It was also defined as avoiding/critiquing princesses – “I’m walking a fine line between actively countering the girlification of my daughter and denigrating her gender”.
  • Or it could be defined by some parents as allowing their daughters to get dirty/play rough and their sons to be soft/gentle.
  • Some saw their feminist parenting as opposing the commercial sexualisation of little girls.
  • Others saw it as being positive role models for their daughters.
  • Teaching their sons to communicate their feelings and how to negotiate with their (potentially) female partners one day was also defined as feminist parenting by some.
  • Educating their sons about the value of domestic work was also seen as feminist parenting.
  • Also, role-modelling feminist marriages.
  • Questioning gender binary – particularly with respect to language, was frequently included in the definition.
  • Some defined it by the way a family name was chosen for their children.
  • Some saw feminist parenting as equal parenting: “I much prefer parenthood. I don’t particularly think of myself as a “mother”, and “mothering” and “fathering” aren’t distinct activities in our family”.
  • Criticising advertising and corporate practices (eg. marketing of formula), and sometimes avoiding television altogether were part of feminist parenting.
  • Being aware of privilege was seen to be important.
  • As stepmothers – refusing to sacrifice too much in the home without getting a say in how those decisions are made. Questioning the “horrible dichotomy for stepmothers of being either.. evil.. or selfless.. type giving of her everything to her husband’s first life”.
  • From a single mother: “For me, the egalitarian basis for feminism had dictated everything. These days I want them (ie. her teenage children) to respect me, I want to be treated as head of the household. I think that what I didn’t teach them was that as a woman, as their mother, as a person who had strived to do the best for them, I was worthy of their respect even if they didn’t like what I had said”.
  • “… feminist thinking can liberate us from that awful myth of ‘the perfect mother’… “. And from someone else – “Feminism has not necessarily made me a better mother. It’s given me.. an alternative, perhaps kinder model for self-critique, instead of worrying about whether the house is clean enough, I’m thinking about whether or not I’ve met my own social or intellectual needs, in order to ensure I’m fulfilled and happy, which in turn makes me a better more resilient, more patient mother”.
  • Teaching their children that everyone has needs, including mothers. “I want to be a strong capable female figure for my daughter.. If I don’t have the tools to help myself, how can I possibly teach them to take care of themselves?”
  • “Feminism has given me hope that my daughter will have a better life than me”.
  • Some saw feminist parenting as connecting with other women, including those in their family.”Feminist mothering also means sharing this experience with other women, talking about it, thinking about it together, generating resources locally and internationally and creating networks through which to talk about how we feel and what we want”.

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More reasons to love Sweden, because we already had the reason above (image credit). (God, between this Alexander Skarsgård lust-post and my Jarvis Cocker lust-post I really am cheapening this blog, so anyway, back to feminism… ):

Sofia Wetterlund, 29, was born Sofia Jönsson, and when she decided to marry last year, she and her spouse-to-be, Karl Andersson, were simply tired of their names. “We both thought Andersson and Jönsson were very common,” she said. “Karl wanted something different, I wanted something different. We just didn’t want to be taken for the others.”

The couple cast about in their families’ past and Ms. Wetterlund discovered, well, Wetterlund, her grandmother’s maiden name. “We thought it was pretty, and it was quite uncommon,” she said.

Additionally, “Wetterlund” was in danger of extinction, at least in their family; only one relative still bore the name. So they asked government officials for permission to be called Wetterlund, and permission was granted.

In most cases, couples adopt a new name for the same reasons the Wetterlunds did: to rebel against the hegemony of traditional Swedish surnames ending in “-son” — Johansson, Andersson and Karlsson being the most common.


For the record, Bill and I aren’t married and we won’t be getting married. We each have our own surname. And our children have our two surnames hyphenated as their last name. I find the question of what other feminists decide to do with their children’s surnames quite interesting.. and I have posted on the topic, oh, rather a few times before already.

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Quick fact about women in the news: apparently, women feature in only about a fifth of the world’s news headlines and just ten percent of all news stories. (My guess is that if you took celebrities out of the media monitoring survey you could probably halve that number again for how often women make the news).

And when women finally make the news in what capacity do we make it? Well sometimes they like to report on what colour bras we are wearing. I know, we get to be so influential. Because speaking of trivial, remember the Facebook ‘bra colour’ status update meme? Supposedly here is this year’s version and the irony, oh it boggles my mind. (Grammar Ninjas look away now):

.. we, GIRLS, did something special in Facebook to help gain consiousness of Breast Cancer. Its so easy that I’d like you to join us to make it spread! Last year it was about writing the colour of the bra you were wearing in your FB status… and it left men wondering for days why did the girls have colours (apparently random) in our status. This year it has to do with our love relationships, in other words, for the moment you are going through with your relationships. What do you drink?

tequila: I’m a single woman
rum: I’m a touch and go woman
champagne: I’m an engaged woman
redbull: I’m a woman in a relationship
beer: I’m a married woman
vodka: I’m the “other one”
sprite: I’m a woman that can’t find the right man
whiskey: I’m a single woman but with friends that won’t stop partying
liquor: I’m a woman that wishes she was single.
gin: I’m a woman that wants to get married

Now all you need to do is write down the answer for your situation in your FB status (don’t reply this email, just put it in your status). Also, cut and paste this message and send it to all your girl- friends as a message. The Bra game reached the news. Lets make this one make it too and see how powerful women are .

You, too, can show how powerful women are by using a coded message to define yourself with a patriarchal relationship descriptor in a Facebook status update. (Daring. Controversial. Formidable. Empowering.) (And I thought we already had wedding rings and marital titles as coded messages for all this girl stuff?). The Facebook GIRL clique is as short-sighted as the average Census survey because once again I am forced to ask, what about us defacto couples? I demand a drink category.

Relatively harmless fun except.. I am assuming the “other one” is the ‘other woman’ – as in a woman having a relationship with someone who is in a relationship with someone else – rather than a group for all those ‘other-ed’ by heteronormativity. Kudos for having as many descriptors for the unattached woman as there are for the attached woman but alas, almost all the categories are used to describe a longing to be in the attached category.

What can I say? Girls, “gain consciousness”.

(Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town).

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Sometimes, but not often, the perfect thing happens at the perfect moment.

A while back I was at a big social gathering with my in-laws and their friends, being on my best behaviour. I was arranging myself, and a very young Cormac on the couch, with Lauca hovering by my side, when an old friend of my in-laws came over to sit with me. I was stealing myself because this woman is very opinionated and we agree on pretty much nothing. But I can never bring myself to be rude to her either, because she is a close friend of my parents-in-law and she has also experienced a great tragedy in her life, and so I cut her some slack figuring that if she appears bitter at times then she might have some cause to be.

Anyway, before I proceed further with this fond little anecdote let me first provide you with some background. When Cormac was born there was some tension between my partner and I over his name. My partner has a long-running tradition in his family where the first-born son of the first-born son is given the same name – and my partner is a first-born son..  and so is this little baby boy of ours. Yes, it is a very patriarchal tradition; and yes, I dislike it accordingly; and yes, he is supposed to be quite feminist so it did seem rather strange for him to be determined to continue this tradition.  In the end, after quite a bit of arguing (and even more of that tension that happens when you aren’t even comfortable enough to argue about it), we resolved to give our son ‘the special family name’ as a middle name rather than as a first name. And like his big sister, his surname would be a hyphenated combination of my surname and his father’s surname.

So, just say my name is Ms Blue Milk and my partner’s name is Mr Happy Hypocrite. Our son’s name is not Happy Hypocrite Jnr, it is instead Cormac Happy Milk-Hypocrite. And when this name was announced there wasn’t a lot of rejoicing among my in-laws, but we’re all WASPs so it was experienced in a very polite manner with nobody saying anything too direct about anything and lots of ever-so-slightly-raised eyebrows. By the time we congregated at this gathering of in-laws and their friends, the dust had settled on my little feminist revolution even though it wasn’t entirely behind us.

So there we were, the children and I, and this old friend of the in-laws joining us on the couch. For the purpose of this story let’s call her Patriarchal Foot Soldier, shall we? And here is how the conversation unfolded.

Patriarchal Foot Soldier: Oh look at this baby, isn’t he beautiful? Doesn’t he look like his father? It is so nice to meet him.

Me: Thank you. We think he is gorgeous too.

Patriarchal Foot Soldier to Lauca: And what is your brother’s name? What is his name?

(Me, gritting my teeth, because she knows full well what the baby’s name is and this is obviously being done to embarrass me, and it is working…)

Patriarchal Foot Soldier: Lauca, is his name “Happy” like his Daddy and Grandfather?

Lauca: No. It’s Cormac.

Patriarchal Foot Soldier: Yeees.

(Me, with a frozen smile on my face, thinking how best to handle this situation. Can I come up with a suitably polite but toxic response to all this, or should I call her on it directly, or should I just smile away mutely until this excruciating conversation finishes; the latter being most likely as my mind is blank?)

Patriarcal Foot Soldier to Lauca: Well then Lauca, what’s your baby brother’s middle name?

(Me thinking be nice, be nice, don’t make a scene, remember the tragedy she experienced, be nice..)

Lauca, in confusion: Milk?

And then, with growing pride in her ability to answer all these questions from an adult, Lauca says firmly: Cormac Milk.

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Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town.

What assumptions do you make about a woman when you hear that she has changed her surname after getting married? And what assumptions do you make about her when you hear she kept her surname after getting married? Do you think those assumptions would affect her success in getting a job? On her eventual income?

What’s in a Name? The Effects of Marital Name Change is an interesting recent study from the Netherlands that shows that we do indeed make judgements about women according to whether they change or keep their name after getting married (to a man). (Well, I guess a big duh! from all of us who have ever participated in a bitter debate about the topic on a feminist blog).

Essentially, the study found that when we learn a woman has changed her surname after marriage (henceforth to be known as name-changers) it becomes a trigger for female stereotypes, and consequently on this basis she will be seen as more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, more communal and a little less competent than other women who kept their name after marrying (henceforth to be known as name-keepers). Additionally, name-keepers were seen as more independent, more ambitious and more intelligent than their name-changing colleagues. Basically, they were seen as being more like men.

So what happens when these women apply for a job? Women with more stereotypical female features, like having your partner’s surname are likely to be judged more in accordance with the female stereotype, which surprise, surprise is not such a good thing when you’re going for a job in a patriarchal world. These judgements would make it less likely the name-changer would be hired. The study also found that people’s judgements included assuming that the name-changer would earn considerably less than her name-keeper colleague for the same job. And I do mean considerably less. For example if the name-changer’s monthly salary was AU$ 3100 her name-keeper colleague was perceived to be worth AU$4,300 for the same job. (Or US$2800 compared to US$3900).

Interestingly, women with hyphenated surnames (their original surname and their husband’s) were also judged more in accordance with female stereotypes even though they themselves were likely to see their surname choice as non-traditional – and in reality were found to have more feminist attitudes and higher personal agency scores than name-changers making them pretty close in attitude to name-keepers. (In part these results may reflect Dutch-specific attitudes where hyphenating is still associated with quite a traditional approach to marital identity whereas in other Western countries hyphenating might be a more radical choice after marriage).

All the same, surname changing is set to continue. Another study conducted by the same authors found that more than 80% of female university students in the Netherlands said they intended to change their name upon marrying. And when you consider that higher education levels are associated with name-keeping that is a pretty high number for that particular sample group. And a similar number of male university students hoped their future wife would change their surname to that of their husband’s. Why do women change their name? Studies have found that it is mainly on account of tradition, family unity and social norms, while women who keep their name or who hyphenated it with their husband’s have been found to do so because they feel their name is part of their identity.


AMSTERDAM—A Dutch social psychologist whose eye-catching studies about human behavior were fodder for columnists and policy makers has lost his job after his university concluded that some of the data in those studies were fabricated.

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This is one of my favourite curiosities about other feminist parents. And this is what we did.

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