Posts Tagged ‘marriage’
I would like to start this post off with a disclaimer. These are only my opinions and in no way an attack on people who choose to get or not get married. It is merely my ruminations on the issue of marriage. Also, in this context, I will be exploring heterosexual marriage mainly because that is the type of marriage I will be entering in to. It is in no means meant to discriminate against people who do not have heterosexual marriages.
I have mixed feelings about marriage. I have always seen myself getting married, though I am at no point in my life for that right now and don’t see it happening or considering it happening in the near future. But I always figured that when I was ready and when I was with the right person, that I would get married. But the more I think about it and the more I develop my investments in feminism, I not as sure. I haven’t ruled out the idea of marriage, but I am starting to question it.
Traditionally, marriage is about the selling of the woman from the father to the husband. Granted, that has changed in most cases, but it still has that root. Does marriage always have to come along with a power dynamic between the man and the woman? A level of this depends on the people involved. The man that I would even consider marrying would have to agree with (or at the very least, respect) my feminist beliefs and values.
I attended my cousin’s wedding about a month ago. The ceremony made me very uncomfortable because it was highly religious and highly patriarchacal. I know that not all marriages or weddings are like this. It was largely an expression of my cousin and her husband. But at the very root of marriage, is there this understanding of the man owning or at the least having some sort of power over the woman?
It is also possible to have heathly relationships without getting married. Marriage does not have to be the “next step.” People can spend their lives together without ever getting married. There are commitment ceremonies. Or you could just declare your love for each other and commitment to each other without a ceremony.
There are obvious social benefits to marriage. But I’m still not sure in my own head what the true values behind the institution of marriage are. I know the roots of marriage. I know that there are still definite examples of marriage as a patriarchal institution. But does it always have to be, depending on the people invovled? (And what does marriage as a patriarchal institution mean for same-sex couples? Patriarchy still affects their lives, but does the power dynamic between men and women factor into same-sex couples? I am asking here. I honestly do not know because I have never been in a same-sex relationship. Does anyone have any insight?)
I don’t think I’ll have a definite answer to these questions for myself until I am in a place where I would consider marrying the person I am with, which I am no where near right now.
Right now I am no where near getting married, but I decided a long time ago (before I defined myself as a feminist) that I was not going to change my name if/when I get married.
My mom kept her name, which I remember causing a lot of confusion among my friends growing up. It seemed so normal to me because that’s what I grew up with. But I would always feel a little upset when my friends called my mom Mrs. Sundstrom instead of by her own name, not that they knew any better at first. When I was very young, I didn’t understand why my friends just assumed that my mom shared my dad and I’s last name. As I aged, I came to understand that it was societal convention that the woman has the same last name as her husband.
Going into late elementary school and on, I would sometimes get asked if my parents were divorced when my friends found out that my parents had different last names. Because in my conservative community (and in the rest of society), the only way that a woman can have her maiden name is if she is divorced from her husband.
Certainly my mom had some influence on my decision to not change my name, but once I started learning more about feminism, I was finally able to express some of my real motivations behind this decision. I do not want to change myself when I get married. My name is part of who I am. And part of who I am is also an independent woman and I feel that as an independent woman, I should not have to change my name to enter into a partnership with a man.
Via a tweet from Ashely at Small Strokes, I learned of an article at The Globe and Mail entitled, “I took my wife’s last name.” The author goes through his decision to take his wife’s name upon marriage and the struggles that he faced, both within himself and from friends and family.
In discussing why he chose to change his name, he says…
I did it because I love Mona – because I wanted her to know that I didn’t expect her to become anyone other than herself. It mattered to me that we shared a name, so I reasoned I should be the one to offer mine up.
I think that this reason says a lot about what kind of person this man is and about how much he respects his wife and her values. He starts the article by saying that the decision was completely his, that his wife didn’t even ask him to do it.
In today’s society, I feel like a woman’s decision to keep her name is not as uncommon as it was even when my parents married about 27 years ago. Some people still hold the expectation that the woman will change her name, but it is certainly more socially acceptable to keep your name. But even when it is not uncommon for a woman to keep her name, it is almost completely unheard of for a man to take his wife’s name. Why?
I think that some women don’t want to change their name because it would show a kind of dependency on a man. So if a man changes his name, is there an assumption that he is dependent on a woman? And why would that be so wrong? In any relationship there is a certain amount of emotional (and other kinds) dependency on the other person. But men would never admit that by taking his wife’s name.
Every woman has the right to keep her name and every man has the right to change his name. And just because I have decided to keep my name doesn’t mean that a woman who decides to take her husband’s name is wrong or anti-feminist.
Today D.C. started recognizing gay marriage. This does not mean that same-sex couples will be rushing to city hall for a marriage license. What is does mean is that same-sex couples who are married in states that have legalized gay marriage will be recognized as married within D.C.
While ideally D.C. would have legalized gay marriage, this is great first step. Way to go D.C.!