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!


evolutionary psychology is sexist pseudoscience

I hate my psychology class.

I find learning about psychology interesting. But I hate the teacher. I don’t want to call him a professor because I feel that implies a certain respect for his teaching abilities, which are nonexistent.

He is focusing now on using evolutionary psychology as an excuse to disseminate his sexist opinions on the roles of men and women. He literally said in class that women stay inside to cook and clean, and men do more outdoor activities and chores, like taking out the trash and shoveling snow.

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why are there no pink cars?

So I was driving home today, and I thought I saw a pink car in the distance, but soon I realized it was red.

Which made me wonder: Why are there no pink cars? I mean, surely there are pink cars in the world, but why do I not see them advertised or driven?

Pink is often used to market traditionally masculine commodities to women, so why are cars (often considered an exclusively masculine interest) not marketed in pink to attract female buyers?

I don’t really have any thoughts on this yet, so I would really, really, appreciate your comments!! Please let me know why you think cars are not advertised or more readily available in pink.


am i still a ‘girl’?

I’ve been thinking about different terms of address for men and women. Especially about the use of the word “girl.”

I guess what brought this on was a certain behavior I noticed at work (as so often happens—it’s the perfect environment to observe many obliviously non-feminist people of all ages interacting in their natural habitats). I work in an office for a smallish company, in a large, open room with the rest of the billing and collections departments. Most of the employees in this area are women, though there are a couple of men.

Many times, I will hear someone on the phone speaking to a customer say something like, “Let me transfer you to the girl who handles the credit card payments.” Hmm. How old is this girl? If I was that customer, would I be picturing a 12-year-old sitting at a desk, handling my credit card information?

If I complained about this, surely the perpetrator would protest that men are often called boys, too. That is true. But I have a hard time imagining anyone saying, “Let me transfer you to the boy in credit and collections.”

I haven’t complained—yet, because nobody has referred to me that way so far. If anyone does, I will definitely ask them not to, and explain why. I will tell them it is offensive to refer to a grown woman as a “girl”, especially to a customer in what should be a more formal conversation, in a situation where one would never refer to a man as a “boy”.

So this got me thinking, and I started doing some dictionary-type research on my go-to online dictionary, (I like it for its comprehensiveness, and in this case, because it orders definitions by usage, not by first appearance. Plus the URL is really easy to remember.)

Most people probably think that words like girl/boy, woman/man, and lady/gentleman are just opposite and equal terms to denote the (perceived) gender binary. However, if you reflect on their actual usage, you can see that they are not at all equal—that they reflect society’s disgust with women—its view of women as the second, lesser sex.

girl / boy

A boy is “1. a male child, from birth to full growth, esp. one less than 18 years of age.” Logically, girl should mean the same/opposite thing, but instead, a girl is “1. a female child, from birth to full growth.” So here we learn that a grown boy is a man (unless you decide to refer to him as a boy to insult him—see below), but a grown woman always stays a girl. That answers my title question: yes, I am still a girl, a child, equivalent (emotionally? physically? mentally?) to a less-than-18-year-old-boy, in society’s eyes, and always will be no matter how old I am.

Here we learn that if one refers to a man as a “boy”, it is most likely to insult him: “2. a young man who lacks maturity, judgment, etc.”. When one speaks of a woman/girl, however, such traits are taken for granted, since all women may be referred to as girls. Women are inherently lacking in “maturity, judgment, etc.”, no matter their age.

lady / gentleman

If you happened to read one of my first posts, “casually reinforcing the gender binary”, you may have an idea how I feel about the word “lady”. I’m not opposed to it’s use entirely—there are situations where it comes in handy. If, for example, you were a circus performer, it would be entirely appropriate to address your audience as “Ladies and Gentlemen!” It’s the unequal usage of its supposed opposite that really pisses me off.

It’s the same thing as when a man opens a door for me—I appreciate it, or it pisses me off, depending on his reason. (And before anyone asks how I could possibly know his reasons—believe it or not, women are perfectly capable of recognizing sexism. That is a topic for a whole other post, but if you find yourself trying to explain away what a woman says is sexism, please Google the topic and educate yourself.) I open doors for people when they need me to, or just to be polite if I feel like it, and I appreciate when others do the same for me. But I hate it when a man opens a door for me just because I have a vagina, as if it prevents me from opening a door for myself.

And I hate it when I am called a “lady” by some deferential chivalrous knight in shining armor placing me up on a pedestal where I can be admired for my fragile beauty. In that case, when I am called a lady, I am being called “a woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion,” by a gentleman: “a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man”. Here we learn that the man is the doer, the action-taker, the knight, and the woman is the still and passive object of the knight’s actions. Not at all equal and opposite.

madam / sir

This is the easy one. Let’s take a look:

sir /sɜr/ [sur]
1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir.
2. (initial capital letter) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott.
3. (initial capital letter) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy.
4. a lord or gentleman: noble sirs and ladies.

What a lovely word. Now let’s look at its supposed counterpart:

mad·am /ˈmædəm/ [mad-uhm]
1. (often initial capital letter) a polite term of address to a woman, originally used only to a woman of rank or authority: Madam President; May I help you, madam?
2. the woman in charge of a household: Is the madam at home?
3. the woman in charge of a house of prostitution.

So we have learned that to be a woman is not only to be inherently immature and obtuse, but also to be a whore. Whereas to be a man is to be… a man.

origin of the word “sissy”

I was curious about it, so I googled it and found this:

sissy 1846, “sister,” extended form of sis. Meaning “effeminate man” is recorded from 1887; the adj. in this sense is from 1891.

So, calling someone a sissy is calling them “sister”. Why is it so bad for a man to have traditionally “feminine” characteristics?

The only way this could make sense is if being a woman or having “feminine” characteristics is bad. Wrong. Worse than being a man.

It’s only logical. Yet people still don’t see that we live in a sexist society? This is maddening.

There is a woman that I work with who is in my generation. I am 24, she is a very young 30. I like her a lot—she is a good, fun person. But she constantly uses feminine words to belittle men—in a joking, teasing way. Ha ha. So funny. “You sound like a little girl!” “Why are you walking like a woman?” Ha. See how funny that is?

It makes me angry whenever I hear it. But I don’t want to start a Serious Discussion in the middle of work (in the middle of her funny funny joke) about why that is sexist and demeaning to women.

Once, she and another woman were sitting in the break room at work talking. I went in to grab a coffee. They were talking about an ex of hers, and how he had hung out with a friend making s’mores one time. “That’s so gay!” “I would have dumped him for that!” I told them that was sexist and tried to explain, but it was like they just shut me out. Didn’t want to hear it. Didn’t want to think too hard.

I get this reaction a lot from people, when I want to discuss something, or be serious for a bit, or really think in depth about something. Most people I guess are threatened by that? They don’t want to think too hard. They don’t want their little paradigm to be pushed a little, shifted just a tiny bit. They don’t even want to consider it.

Living like that seems awfully dull and shallow to me.

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