Otterday! And Open Thread (recovered)

This is a recovered copy of a post lost in our server meltdown. Sadly we don’t have the comments.

Welcome to Otterday! Today’s open thread is hosted by this little pink-tongued otter, shared by Christopher Lane Photography on flickr.

Otter with its pink tongue out in the snow, looking as though it's catching snowflakes

Please feel free to use this thread to natter about anything your heart desires. Is there anything great happening in your life? Anything you want to get off your chest? Reading a good book (or a bad one)? Anything in the news that you’d like to discuss? What have you created lately? Commiserations, felicitations, temptations, contemplations, speculations?

Categories: Life

Tags: , , ,

17 replies

  1. I dropped a bunch of links on the original Otterday post to the latest round of the Surname Wars and we were having quite a nice discussion, so I’ll drop them again so at least folks can reference them:
    Jill Filipovic at Feministe (referencing her post in The Guardian)
    Kate Harding
    Melissa McEwan at Shakesville Part I and Part II
    and also our very own Blue Milk
    There’s stuff in the archives here at Hoyden too.

  2. My apologies Pebblerocker and Tigtog, I forgot we had lost all the comments!

  3. No problem, Mindy.
    As some of you already know, I have a close relative diagnosed with horrible progressions of fucking cancer. I’m likely to be distracted for a while, and working more in the background at various blogs. Having recently upticked my contribution to moderation roles on Feministe and Larvatus Prodeo doesn’t help that much!
    So I will be around, but I’m not likely to be at my sharpest for some time to come.

  4. So sorry to hear it, tigtog. Best wishes.

    And glad that hoydenabouttown is back up.

    • I just got a phone call from my sister that she thinks I should travel to be with her and my brother and make some joint decisions about respite care for Dad and palliative care matters for Mum. I’ve got a few scheduled posts sitting around, but I’m going to be offline for a lot of the time over the next few days.

  5. tigtog, that’s awful. You take care of yourself and stuff in the order and at the time that works for you. We (or at least I) appreciate everything you do here and completely understand you can’t be the full-on gracious host all the time.
    In the surname debate, I think this link has pretty much my take on it (Warning: apart from the all-caps, I didn’t think shouting was necessary.)
    Although it occurs to me that the real problem with the surname debate is that while women are arguing with other women, men are completely absent from the analysis. And I think back to men I’ve known, who were (as far as I can judge) above average in feminist awareness for men; who saw me as an intellectual equal, who could tell stories of their own mothers’ experiences with sexist workplaces, who’d bring up contraception first and were equally outraged that abortion wasn’t freely available and tampons got GST; but who had never given a fraction of a second’s thought to the idea that they might ever change their name, that their (potential future) wife might want to keep her name, that there might be some negotiation required in the creation of a new family, rather than just a continuation of his family. Who sometimes knew, forfuksake, the name of their first-born son before even having met a woman they would seriously contemplate marrying.
    (Whose ideas of family history were exclusively about their fathers, their father’s fathers, their father’s father’s fathers, as though their mother’s half, the mother’s parents plus father’s mother three quarters, ditto great-grandparents’ seven eighths, ditto great-great-grandparents’ fifteen sixteenths, those bits of family history just didn’t exist.)
    So yes, I can see why many women have to have special snowflake reasons for changing their surname to their husband’s on marriage, because it is too hard to even discuss the subject with him (without excessive emotionality on his part, as his world is turned upside down) and too embarrassing to admit one’s Nigel isn’t as feminist as all that.

  6. (((hugs))) Tigtog, hope sibling matters go smoothly. Please shout if there is anything we can do for you.

  7. @AotQ – When, years later, I discussed the whole surname thing with MyNigel he admitted that he wouldn’t have changed his name and he would have been a bit upset if I’d chosen not to change mine. But then he has never claimed to be a feminist either. I’m working on him.
    We then got into a lengthy discussion about what our respective parents would have thought if I hadn’t changed my name and amid much giggling we came to the conclusion that it would have been a topic bought up at from here until doomsday. So no, my reasons for changing my name weren’t even remotely feminist but compelling so that even now if I were in the same position as I was at 23 I would probably still change my name just because it made my life easier. If in the eyes of some feminists that makes me less of a feminist then I would ask them a) don’t you have better things to worry about and b) does every decision you make stand up to feminist scrutiny – knowing full well that it doesn’t matter what you do someone will tell you you are doin it rong.

  8. I changed my name and have no ‘good’ reason (not even a good non-feminist reason). It was genuinely a decision made because I didn’t realise that I had a choice. Which isn’t quite true, as the year I got married I had done my first ever course on feminism and encountered it in a formal sense, so I think I did have an idea that it was an option. But, it wasn’t an option I gave any consideration to, or had a discussion about, or even knew anybody else who’d made such a decision. And, once I’d done it and got my degree (and now when I’ve established my professional name), I don’t want to change it back as it would detract from ‘my brand’. I do feel slightly better because I’m Scottish, so I legally don’t give up my maiden name and on legal docs I’m known as Feminist MaidenName or Avatar, to reflect that.
    To balance this egregious patriarchal behaviour, I instead study name-changing as a phenomenon, because whilst it has a long English heritage, it only becomes fashionable in Scotland in the late 18th and early 19thC. So, I try to explain why. (In many other parts of the world, it continues to be irrelevant until the present day- so this is a very anglo-centric debate within feminism).
    On the conceiving of family as entirely patrilineal, this might at some level have been influenced by British (and some other parts of Europe) norms, where legally the family was defined as your relatives through your father (and explicitly not your mother), so that, for example, if you died with no descendants or full siblings, but had half-siblings through your mother, they did not count for inheritance purposes, and your property went to your nearest relative on your father’s side- even if that was several generations removed. As a result, children were usually named for their father’s family (and some people even saw naming for the mother’s side as a sign of illegitimacy), unless a relative on your mother’s side was leaving property to one of your children. Now inheritance law changed over the course of the 20thC so this is no longer true, but some of this legacy still remains in naming practices and how we conceive of the world.

  9. Meant to also give my sympathies Tigtog- having been through this recently, I literally have no advice, but hope that all goes as well as it can.

  10. Sympathies, tigtog, and do what you need to do, for yourself and your family.
    I also got married while quite young and still a student. At the time among my largely intellectual and academic friends, the thing was to hyphenate. At least the thing was for the woman to hyphenate. I couldn’t do that because Mr angharad and my names just didn’t work aesthetically together at all, in any combination. And my surname was one of those that get you teased in primary school and would have become only more ridiculous with the addition of ‘Dr’ which I was contemplating at the time. So I changed. But it never occurred to me at the time that there were other options, including Mr a changing his name. I suspect he might have been willing to contemplate that, but his parents are pretty conservative and I expect they would have objected strenuously.
    Now I work in an office I am surprised by how many of the young women who work there just seem to automatically change their names upon marriage. I have no idea, of course, whether they’ve consciously considered the decision or not, but the temptation is to assume not.

  11. Lots of hugs to you, tigtog.
    As a WOC, I find the whole name change debate bizarre and alienating, for similar reasons to stargazer’s in her changing names post at THM the other day. I wrote about it in 2011 in a post called Not enough is in a name, too.

  12. I’ve often found that in non-feminist spaces, you’re required to have a “good” reason for NOT changing your name (or indeed, for not choosing to marry at all). It comes up surprisingly often, for me — I’ll state firstly that my partner and I have chosen not to marry (in terms of having the ceremony, anyway — he is my legal spouse regardless), but then I’ll STILL have to address the question of IF we did, would I change my name, and when I say “No,” there is the inevitable, “Why not?” Generally, I have found that saying “I have two degrees and several published academic articles under my current name,” is considered a “good” reason. “I just don’t want to change,” is not.

    • I have had some success with “I just don’t see the point of running around all those bureaucracies to change all my paperwork*”, probably because then they would have to justify more than just an ethereal concept of name-changing, and apparently nobody wants to try.
      * I sometimes add “- I’d rather be [whatever activity it is that we’re currently sharing]” – that one got a genuine laugh in the dentist’s waiting room.

  13. Everyone’s already used the best words of sympathy, so I’ll just add my little bit to say that cancer sucks, and I hope all goes as well as possible for you and your loved ones, tigtog.
    On surnames, I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with mine so I am very much looking forward to changing it, but my circumstances are a bit unusual to say the least. The business of changing surnames, or of naming children, seems to be one place where a commitment to equality is often revealed to be paper thin. I was going to leave a link to Catherine Deveny’s article which I read recently, except that in going to find it I discovered it was a re-post of an article from 2010 which had already been mentioned in one of the earlier articles here back when it was first written! You’re obviously all way too far ahead. 😉

  14. Thanks for the reminder Chally. Puts things back into perspective for me.

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