Friday, September 28, 2007

Women Who Want to Fight Over the Baby's Last Name

Some women want to keep their names after marriage. Good for them. Some women don't want the prefix Mrs. either. Fine. Great.

And now, more and more, there are some who aren't satisfied with that and want the baby to have their last name, too. And that, readers, is where I have to draw the line. Now, I have no kids. I speak purely hypothetically. But I would never consent to letting my kids take their mom's name. And I would resist hyphenation with every last fiber of effort.

The women I've spoken to have put forward a few arguments. The weakest ones are the "I went through pregnancy and labor and childbirth and you didn't" arguments. You did so voluntarily, is my response. No one put a gun to your head. Going through pregnancy doesn't entitle a person to some kind of compensation, like a paycheck.

The only argument that has merit is the obvious one, that men and women are equal - and that there's no reason for the child to always be named after the man. I have two responses to this. I think that either, independently, is satisfactory. The obvious retort here is that naming the baby after the mother isn't any fairer. There's no truly fair solution except hyphenation, or selecting an entirely new name. The problem with hyphenation, as others have pointed out to me, is that it's not a long-term solution. Will the great grandchildren be named Johnson-Merrick-Douglas-Finklestein-Shanks-Paisley-Wainright-Gibbs? And the problem with selecting a new name is that no one seems particularly keen to do it.

So the first problem with the "It's not fair" argument is that there's no fair solution being proposed. But now, allow me to introduce the world to the second compelling reason why women shouldn't be fighting this battle and should just gracefully concede it. This second reason is one that is intuitively understood by all men everywhere, but I've never really heard anyone articulate it before.

Women: if your men have to raise children who have your last name, they will be the laughingstock of men everywhere. Men know this, and this is why they will put up enormous resistance to the idea. They may not even care about passing on their name. They may not even like their name. But what they do care about is having every other guy they know and will ever know - including men of the future who have not even been born yet - think they are a whipped, neutered little pansy.

And this isn't just some idle fear. "Who cares what other people think?" you might be saying. "Why should bowing to the prejudices of others have any bearing on our decision?" Well, what if your husband needs to get a job someday? What if he needs to make contacts? What if he needs to make a sale? What if he needs to impress clients? What if he needs to build his reputation or influence others, for any reason, at any time? Wouldn't it be nice if he wasn't mortally handicapped by everyone snickering behind his back about how his wife made him forfeit his own family name so he couldn't pass it on to his own kids? Does she make him pee sitting down too?

Maybe somewhere out there are some hippyish dudes who either don't care or who actually respect the choice. Sure they may exist. But will they be the dudes your husband needs to impress to get that account or make the sale? That's a big N-O.

So that's your dilemma women. If you actually win this fight you are dooming your man to a lifetime of humiliation and disrespect. And if you don't really care about that, then you suck. Count your blessings. Enjoy your advantages in other areas. You live longer. You have higher emotional intelligence. The whole multiple orgasm thing. When have you ever heard a man whine and say he was entitled to something because of his shorter lifespan? You don't. Yes, naming the baby after the man is unfair, but that's just life. The baby last name fight is just not a good place to stand your ground.

3 comments:

Samuel S said...

I think you're underestimating the statement that a man who changes his last name to an entirely new one is making. That statement is: "I am a very forward-thinking castrati". I have a good friend - a wonderful guy - who changed his married name to "Soleil" so he and his wife could express the sunshine they bring into each other's lives. Every time he leaves the room, other men furtively look at each other and think, "He's a good guy, even without his penis" or imagine what fathers and uncles would do to them if they dropped their last name, never to pass it on. If he has a son, there is almost no chance of that child being able to live a heterosexual life - other men simply won't tolerate his name as anything other than a admission of 0% testosterone. Unless maybe he grows into that "boy named Sue" angle and learns to live like Sonny Liston.

Slf62000 said...

The questions is, why should a baby have a man's name? Is it about ownership? Proving that this kid is his possession? That is what your argument sounds like to me. Naming is important as you seem to get, so why not a woman's name? There is no choice for who carries a child, and I would say the dramatic changes in a woman's body may just be worth the compensation. If you don't want to adopt, there is not choice about who carried the fetus.

Anonymous said...

Ro the author, So all men not yet born will laugh at a man raising kids with the mother's last name. You need to research transhumanism as it relates to gender roles. Big changes are coming and already the genders are blurring with intergendered and transgendered. A neutral or new name should be the choice. In the future, and ASAP, names should be given in ways different from how they've been given, if at all.