Jill Filpovic, writing at the Guardian, wants to know why the sweeping majority of women still take their husband’s name upon marriage.
“Identities matter, and the words we put on things are part of how we make them real.”
Exactly, Jill. That is exactly correct. Identities DO matter and the words we put on things ARE part of how we make them real. Do you know what marriage does? It creates a new family. And in our culture, we choose our family names according to patrilineage.
Line of descent as traced through men on the paternal side of a family.
Let’s stop for a moment and consider WHY we have established the custom of patrilineage. I think Satoshi Kanazawa has it right:
Patrilineal inheritance of family names, where children inherit their last names from the father, not from the mother, evolved as a social institution as one of the mechanisms to alleviate paternity uncertainty. Like all mammalian males, human fathers can never be completely certain of their paternity, but, unlike most mammalian males, they are asked to invest very heavily in their offspring.
Satoshi Kanazawa! You mean that EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGIST?!
Yep. I mean him. What is it about evolutionary psychology that gets feminist knickers in a knot? Feminists HATE evopsych with a passion that is almost unparalleled.
Evolutionary psychology is an offshoot of evolutionary biology, which is uncontested by any rational person, because sexual dimorphism is just so fucking obvious. You can scream EQUALITY to the high heavens and it will not change the fact that men, on average, are bigger than women.
One set of evolutionary biologists got around to thinking, hmmm, if our physical characteristics evolved so differently, is it possible that we also have psychologies that evolved differently to reflect what it is we DO with our bodies?
And evolutionary psychology was born.
The earliest feminists and suffragettes of the First Wave had absolutely no problem acknowledging that women had a special role to play in society: as the mothers of all citizens, they had a vested interest in what happened to those citizens.
“A woman’s place is in the home; and out of it whenever she is called to guard those she loves and to improve conditions for them.”
The Second Wave feminists, however, rejected maternal values, since they strongly implied that women were not constitutionally or psychologically equipped to center their lives around competition and ingenuity and survival. Women’s psychology evolved to prepare them to live inside a perimeter, guarded by men, with the primary goal of ensuring the survival of their offspring.
Well that sucks. “Fuck that noise” was the rallying cry of feminists everywhere! And off they went, out into the wild blue yonder, to compete head to head with men in a battle of wits, guts and glory!
Aaaaaaaaand 70 years later, most women are working as support staff and paid caregivers, safe inside their little perimeters while men skulk out the edges of human knowledge and possibility.
And what happened to the offspring? Where the babies at? Oh, yeah. We don’t have any. Not enough to replace ourselves, at any rate.
What an ingenious plan! Let’s not have any children! And the ones we do have, we’ll pay some other woman to raise! Hello, ladies with brown skin. Get over here and raise my one kid, would you? Don’t ask for too much money, though. I have gel manicures and throw cushions to buy with this money I earned as a secretary for some man doing the real work.
A, B, C, D …. Now where does G go again?
Know why 90% of women change their name when they get married, Jill? Because there is something deeply, profoundly psychologically satisfying TO WOMEN about feeling that you are under a man’s protection. You leave your father’s name behind and place yourself under your husband’s shield, and you share a name and identity with the children you have together.
When Jill writes about identity, she wants women to cast off their identity as a WIFE and MOTHER. For women, HER identity should only include HERSELF. No one else could possibly matter.
That feels pretty shitty for most women, and most of them reject that definition of self. Then they sally forth into a wider culture that tells them at every possible turn that, honestly, husbands and children DO NOT MATTER.
The whispers start.
Women abandon the few children they have to the care of women poorer than themselves, divorce is easy, cash flows like water from their ex-husbands and taxpayers and the search for something more, something better, something else continues, in defiance of what actually makes women happy.
Today is International Women’s Day. How about we celebrate it by cheering for all the ladies who are married to the fathers of their children? Those are the women who are helping to create a world filled with happy, productive, stable and caring people.
Oh, gosh, but that would make men an essential part of International Women’s Day wouldn’t it? Well we can’t have that. We need to celebrate the day by EXCLUDING MEN, because Patriarchy! Privilege! Power! Oppression!
All across the globe, women will march and cheer and gather to celebrate women. 90% of the married ones will have their husband’s name. Too bad 90% of them won’t KEEP their husband’s names. They’ll take the name of Husband 2.0. And 3.0. And 4.0.
As for me, I’ll be celebrating by going about my day, safe in my perimeter, with the father of my children. And I’ll sign all the school permission slips with my husband’s name, which is also my name. After all, it’s part of my identity. It’s part of what makes me real.
Lots of love,