feminists can’t have it both ways

The author of this article about surnames stopped by my little bog and commented on my post about hyphenated names, which was a nice surprise. As I was reading the comments on his article, this one stood out:

I understand that some women don’t want to change their name and at the end of the day it’s their choice. But what I find unfair is most of them still want an engagement ring, still want their men to wear a wedding band and still want to spend lots of money on things that men don’t give a crap about for the wedding day.

I agree with part of this comment. I think a lot of traditions surrounding marriage are sexist.

I am disgusted by the tradition of a man buying a woman an engagement ring. This tradition has a long history, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It re-surged in the early 20th century, and not just as a result of the infamous De Beers campaign. The engagement ring is symbolic of ownership. It lays claim to a man’s property. It is a contract for a woman’s virginity. This is its undeniable history; regardless of intent, this is what an engagement ring says.

What is the purpose of a man spending two months of his salary on an obligatory ‘gift’ that has the purpose of—what? Declaring his love for her? Declaring his intent to marry her? Can’t he just tell her these things without wasting so much money? Or give a more original gift—something some thought was put into? Why do men and not women have to buy this gift? Isn’t it just as important for a woman to declare her love and her intent to marry?

The tradition of exchanging wedding bands doesn’t have the romantic origins we imagine, either. From the Wikipedia page on wedding rings:

Historically, the wedding ring was rather connected to the exchange of valuables at the moment of the wedding rather than a symbol of eternal love and devotion. It is a relic of the times when marriage was a contract between families, not individual lovers. Both families were then eager to ensure the economical safety of the young couple. Sometimes it went as far as being a conditional exchange as this old (and today outdated) German formula shows: ‘I give you this ring as a sign of the marriage which has been promised between us, provided your father gives with you a marriage portion of 1000 Reichsthalers’.

As for the commenter’s statement that women “still want to spend lots of money on things that men don’t give a crap about for the wedding day”… I think the assumption that women want huge, expensive weddings and men don’t is a stereotype that just isn’t often true in real life. I don’t know of any hard facts or research in the area—maybe someone can give me a link?—but most women that I know don’t want to spend a lot of money on their weddings. They want to decide together, with their spouse-to-be, what kind of wedding to have.

For the most part, though, I think the commenter makes a good point about wanting to have it both ways. I want equality in everything—more than I want a shiny diamond with a troubling history.

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read this: “On ‘Thick Skin'”

You should check out this amazing article by guest blogger Chloe Angyal at The Sexist!

Women who accept sexual harassment, be it at work or on the street, have “thick skin” and are “reasonable.” Women who don’t are “victims” who “can’t hack it.” At work women are faced with two equally unpleasant choices: suffer harassment or discrimination in silence, or speak up and be branded a thin-skinned victim who makes all the other women look bad.

the man in the bushes with a knife

First I want to say that I am not belittling what these women have gone through. Rape is a horrible crime, no matter the perpetrator or circumstances.

police sketch of suspectThis man has been attacking and raping women for 13 years. He literally hides in the bushes with a knife—he is the perfect cliche to perpetuate the stranger-rapist stereotype.

I’m not sure why this is breaking news. The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to publicize these crimes to help catch the guy.

In a study published by the Department of Justice, 82% of the victims were raped by someone they knew (acquaintance/friend, intimate, relative) and 18% were raped by a stranger.

Only publicizing stories like this perpetuates the lie told to women that they only need to watch out for the stranger in the bushes.

Where is the breaking news on the other 82% of rapes?

thoughts on hyphenated names

Dr Hegarty said: “In the 16th century, naming men before women became the acceptable word-order to use because of the thinking that men were the worthier sex. This grammar has continued with ‘Mr and Mrs’, ‘his and hers’ and the names of romantic couples like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

I often do this without thinking, though I’m getting better at noticing and stopping myself.

I was thinking about this in terms of hyphenated names- do most hetero couples who choose to hyphenate their names together put the man’s name first? How do they decide?

As a person in my 20’s, I have several friends with hyphenated names inherited from their parents. They all hate their last names. They are long and difficult to relay. They are embarrassing.

My boyfriend told me about a study he read (I’m sorry, I can’t find a link) that concluded that hyphenated names are detrimental to women and beneficial to men. People would see “Nathan Smith-Roberts” and think his parents must be progressive, open-minded and tolerant people. The same people would see “Norah Smith-Roberts” and not hire her because she must be a man-hating radical feminist.

I think hyphenated names are a well-intentioned but bad idea. They’re too problematic. What does the next generation do?

I think in a family with multiple children, there are two ideal solutions, assuming the couple wants to pass on both names. They could take turns- name the first child one last name, and the second child the other. Or, for hetero couples, they could give the father’s last name to any sons, and the mother’s last name to any daughters. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Where did your last name come from? Do you like it? Have you ever changed your last name? Why? What would your ideal solution be? I would love to hear your thoughts!

scary statistics about makeup / what are you afraid of?

This survey of 3,000 women produced some disheartening results about how makeup still runs the lives of women.

  • One of of five boyfriends have never seen their girlfriends without makeup- not even in bed.
  • 41% of the women polled said they would be mortified if a colleague saw them without makeup.
  • One of of five said they would not let even close girlfriends see them without makeup.
  • One third would not even consider leaving home unarmed with a full grooming kit—including lip balm, eyeliner, deodorant, and hairbrush.
  • 71% said they are much prettier with makeup on.

What are we afraid of?

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