Failing to see the wood for the trees

can't see the forest for the treesLisa Cuprio’s main thesis in Women keep maiden names for more than feminist reasons is this:

In the past, women who declined to take their husbands’ names might be considered careerists or feminists. Today, a new breed of women who cling to their maiden names is emerging, and it’s one that did not grow up with Gloria Steinem as a symbol of female independence. It is a generation of women who have been raised to be proud of their ethnic identities and are reluctant to sacrifice the strong cultural connections they feel to their family names.

I flipped this link over to Lauredhel using IM, and we typed the same response simultaneously: how the hell is an unwillingness to erase your own family heritage in favour of your husband’s family heritage NOT a feminist reason for keeping your own family name?

Cuprio may not be quite up there in the Charlotte Allen stratum of contempt for feminism, but it looks like she’s working on it.

Image Credit: originally uploaded by camra_art

Categories: gender & feminism, language

Tags: , , ,

3 replies

  1. Someone I was working with argued to me that she had always thought she’d change her name until it occurred to her that her name and her cultural identity and her relationship with her father were really important to her. And her partner’s name is Smith. Which has it’s own cultural significance, but she wasn’t impressed with it and didn’t feel the need to take on one of the most common names in the country when it wasn’t even important to her partner. While I agree it’s a feminist act to value your own identity (however you define it) equally with your partner’s, she wasn’t describing it that way, and was surprised that I did.
    Conversely, while I wouldn’t change my own name for feminist reasons, I was happy for our son to have his father’s name for cultural reasons. My family’s surname was anglicised several generations ago, and I’m not particularly attached to it. My partner’s name is unusual (in spelling anyway) and not anglicised. His name more accurately reflects our shared Celtic heritage.

  2. Of course there’s some intersectionality with motives going on, but only a generation ago most of these women would not have even thought about keeping their own name, because of the hegemony of patriarchal naming traditions. The reason that they feel free to keep their own family name now is because of the way that feminism has dismantled expectations that women belong to the men who marry them.


  1. More for my collection of “keeping your own surname” « blue milk
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