Author Topic: Naming conventions  (Read 24401 times)

Mandos

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Naming conventions
« on: November 07, 2006, 06:13:04 PM »
In another thread (which I didn't want to derail), ephemeral makes this complaint

Quote
Guy I know just had a baby. It was very important to the mum that the baby have his name. It was just the proper and right thing to do. Guy's a proud father of a cute healthy baby. He sent me an e-mail with the full name of the baby spelled out (first name, two middle names and his own last name), weight, time of birth, etc. I couldn't help looking at the name and feeling resentful. I thought, wow, proud dad, and he must feel so proud to be able to attach his name to someone else's.


I'm going to step once again into Dangerous Territory and suggest that as long as we do have family names, the most popular naming convention for children with present fathers is going be their father's last name.  I've seen this issue alluded to off and on here, and so the desire for Conferring The Name seems to be a current desire among relatively "enlightened" men, even if they don't act on it.  

Why do I think this is?  While women do most of the work in pregnancy---well, all of it, really---and suffer the most risk, they also get the first chance of all chances to bond with their children, creating a mother/child dyad which even a present/involved/active father can't really establish until significantly later.  Conferring The Paternal Moniker seems to be one simple and convenient way to alleviate the subconscous exclusion that this situation is likely to engender even in the most well-intentioned people.  

Now, of course, there's no archetypal Man, so I obviously can't claim that everyone is going to feel that way, and most don't.  What I *can* suggest, however, is that it's likely to remain for a very long time yet a popular convention.

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Re: Naming conventions
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2006, 07:47:17 PM »
Quote from: Mandos
Conferring The Paternal Moniker seems to be one simple and convenient way to alleviate the subconscous exclusion that this situation is likely to engender even in the most well-intentioned people.  


So, do men also force women to change their names to bond better? With a baby or the woman?

Toedancer

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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2006, 07:52:45 PM »
In my life I have never heard of such a thing. But then again, I am not your 'social' correct person to ask. But u have to remember things were so different then. Womyn as far as I can tell don't do anything the in=laws say.
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Mandos

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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2006, 07:54:13 PM »
Well previously the "ownership" was the whole family.  Now we've (been trying to) recognize that there isn't a necessary man-woman bond, but we still sentimentalize the parent-child bond.

Toedancer

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Re: Naming conventions
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2006, 08:29:35 PM »
Quote from: ephemeral
Quote from: Mandos
Conferring The Paternal Moniker seems to be one simple and convenient way to alleviate the subconscous exclusion that this situation is likely to engender even in the most well-intentioned people.  

So, do men also force women to change their names to bond better? With a baby or the woman?


I am not a well intentioned person when it comes to offspring, only with people in general. I can't for the life of me wonder what you wonder about? Can't really give you any answer nor should I. You will be the one to decide, finito.  This child is in YOUR womb, not anybody else's.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

Timebandit

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Re: Naming conventions
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2006, 08:41:54 PM »
Quote from: Mandos
In another thread (which I didn't want to derail), ephemeral makes this complaint

Quote
Guy I know just had a baby. It was very important to the mum that the baby have his name. It was just the proper and right thing to do. Guy's a proud father of a cute healthy baby. He sent me an e-mail with the full name of the baby spelled out (first name, two middle names and his own last name), weight, time of birth, etc. I couldn't help looking at the name and feeling resentful. I thought, wow, proud dad, and he must feel so proud to be able to attach his name to someone else's.

I'm going to step once again into Dangerous Territory and suggest that as long as we do have family names, the most popular naming convention for children with present fathers is going be their father's last name.  I've seen this issue alluded to off and on here, and so the desire for Conferring The Name seems to be a current desire among relatively "enlightened" men, even if they don't act on it.  

Why do I think this is?  While women do most of the work in pregnancy---well, all of it, really---and suffer the most risk, they also get the first chance of all chances to bond with their children, creating a mother/child dyad which even a present/involved/active father can't really establish until significantly later.  Conferring The Paternal Moniker seems to be one simple and convenient way to alleviate the subconscous exclusion that this situation is likely to engender even in the most well-intentioned people.  

Now, of course, there's no archetypal Man, so I obviously can't claim that everyone is going to feel that way, and most don't.  What I *can* suggest, however, is that it's likely to remain for a very long time yet a popular convention.


Your rationale may have made sense in the era I was born (mid-'60s), when dads weren't allowed in the delivery room or much involved in baby care.  But I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense now.  

My kids were both born with their dad present.  He held them minutes after I did, and the first one, who was a hospital birth (our second was born at home), he went with her while they did the bathing and weighing and I went off for a bath myself.  In her first day, she spent nearly as much time in his arms as mine -- and trust me, at day one breastfeeding is not exactly bonding time.  There was no exclusion, nor was there a feeling of exclusion -- I asked.  

So in our case, as I haven't changed my name, I felt really strongly that *my* name being included on that birth certificate was important.  I didn't want to be excluded from being instantly recognizable as my child's parent.  

I think it has more to do with social structures, really, than any deep-seated feelings of exclusion.  Our families have been patriarchally patterened, with women adopting the man's surname, and the children do as well in identification of the family unit.  Other cultures don't necessarily -- but such feelings would be universal, wouldn't they?  So why would it not play out the same everywhere?
Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. -Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

kuri

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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2006, 08:42:00 PM »
While I'm not sure it's quite equal to a last name, my partner and his brother both have two middle names and one of those middle names is their mother's last name. And my kids will have a second middle name that is my last name.

I think it's the least one can do, and doesn't cause any of the endless hyphenation problems that other arrangements can have.

arborman

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Naming conventions
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2006, 09:21:34 PM »
Well, hyphenation would have meant a 7 syllable name for the poor kid, so that was out for us.

We discussed it, and the boy took my name.  I had suggested that a girl should get arborwoman's name, while a boy would get mine.  Not because of any desire to see my name carry on, more because we had to name the kid something and it made the most sense.  We also talked about giving the kid a name of his or her own, but couldn't really think of anything that would work, and couldn't really think of a good reason to do so.

Arborwoman disagreed with my ambilineal suggestion, and strongly suggested that whatever the gender the child should get my last name.  

Her reasoning was that:
1.  My family has atraceable history and heritage going back about 600 years.
2.  She didn't get her last name until her dad adopted her when she was 5.  She didn't feel any strong historical bond to her family name and history, largely because it is lost in the mists of time.  She loves her dad, but has no real attachment with the name, per se.

So the kid got my name.  Had arborboy been arborgirl, she would probably have got my name as well.

I can't say it doesn't please me - it does - but mostly because I am proud of the heritage and history of my family name.  In the end it doesn't matter much, but I hope that doesn't mean I've done something wrong.
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Mandos

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Naming conventions
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2006, 10:17:41 PM »
So I come from one of many cultures in which women don't traditionally (except in historically brief periods of overt British-aping) have to take men's names, but the children definitely do.  So I didn't really think of the "why do women take men's names" angle, actually, it didn't occur to me, because most of the weddings I've ever attended didn't have the namechangy thing going on.

Holly Stick

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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2006, 11:22:26 PM »
A little historical perspective for you younger folks. I'm going through some articles written from the 1950s on; and in some cases a female author is named "Mrs.  Frank Whosit" or whatever.  That is, she has no name of her own, but is identified only as somebody's wife.   Like the woman in The Handmaid's Tale who is named Offred to indicate that she belongs to Fred. Times have changed and that doesn't happen anymore, but it's not that long ago.
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arborman

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Naming conventions
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2006, 01:17:59 PM »
No doubt.  Arborwoman still gets mail from her grandmother addressed to 'Mrs. Arborman' - despite the fact that she didn't take my name (why would she?).  

One makes allowances for those over 80, but still, it's a splash of cold water.
The pleasures of the table are for every man, of every land, and no matter what place in history or society; they can be a part of all his other pleasures, and they last the longest, to console him when he has outlived the rest.

Sleeping Sun

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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2006, 01:26:32 PM »
My own mother did that do me on a letter sent shortly after the 'legalizing' of our marriage.  "Mrs. Sun" (with his first and last name).  I hadn't even decided at that point if I was going to change my name!  So I call home in a huff, and she laughs.  Did it on purpose to get a charge out of me.  Mothers.

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Re: Naming conventions
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2006, 10:04:27 PM »
Quote from: Mandos
Why do I think this is?  While women do most of the work in pregnancy---well, all of it, really---and suffer the most risk, they also get the first chance of all chances to bond with their children, creating a mother/child dyad which even a present/involved/active father can't really establish until significantly later.  Conferring The Paternal Moniker seems to be one simple and convenient way to alleviate the subconscous exclusion that this situation is likely to engender even in the most well-intentioned people.


To put it politely, I think that's a lot of hodge-podge. I honestly do not think that fathers confer their names upon their kids because they are unable to bond with the child until much later. Every dad I know fell in love with their kid(s) the second they were born, and spent about as much time as the mum holding the baby, cuddling, putting to sleep, playing, changing diapers, etc. Although the dad can't breast-feed, there are a million otehr ways he can bond with the baby besides conferring his name.

Maybe it was different in older generations, like TimeBandit says, when dads weren't allowed in the delivery room. But feminism changed that. Moreover, dads still had the choice to get more involved with the baby after the delivery.

What it boils down to, I think, is the issue of control and power. Being the 'man' and the 'leader' in the family. That, and deeming women as lesser beings and sexual objects that 'belong' like property to either fathers or husbands, and therefore, not worthy enough to pass on their names down through the generations.

I have no problem with couples like the arborfolks who discussed the last name issue and had rational reasons for making the choice that they did. I do not always take issue just because a kid has the dad's last name. What I do have a problem with is keeping up meaningless and oppressive traditions for no more reason than that it is a tradition, and it is considered far too much trouble than it is worth to ruffle a few feathers and stir the pot a little.

Mandos

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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2006, 10:35:44 PM »
Quote
To put it politely, I think that's a lot of hodge-podge. I honestly do not think that fathers confer their names upon their kids because they are unable to bond with the child until much later. Every dad I know fell in love with their kid(s) the second they were born, and spent about as much time as the mum holding the baby, cuddling, putting to sleep, playing, changing diapers, etc. Although the dad can't breast-feed, there are a million otehr ways he can bond with the baby besides conferring his name.

I made sure that I didn't make it a universal statement: I only said that it would remain as a widespread and popular custom, but not necessarily the only one.  The point is not the *reality* of bonding, the point is the symbolic value.  Bonding, for some people, does have a proprietary component and my point is that it's harder for men who feel that component to satisfy it than it is for women.

And it's still more widespread than you may think for fathers to spend less time and feel less connected with young children than mothers.

Quote
What I do have a problem with is keeping up meaningless and oppressive traditions for no more reason than that it is a tradition, and it is considered far too much trouble than it is worth to ruffle a few feathers and stir the pot a little.


I do sort of take this position.  Good relations are usually more important to me than pot-stirring in real life.  The benefits of the latter, on things without significant direct material import, rarely outweigh the stress and loss.  Not worth not acquiescing.

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Naming conventions
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2006, 05:22:11 PM »
Quote from: Mandos
I do sort of take this position.  Good relations are usually more important to me than pot-stirring in real life.  The benefits of the latter, on things without significant direct material import, rarely outweigh the stress and loss.  Not worth not acquiescing.


Well, that is where you and I differ, Mandos. Regardless of whether somebody is a relative or not, I have serious trouble telling a homophobe and a sexist that I love them. Even more so if I am the one being oppressed. I have been oppressed by family for being a female, I have walked away from them, and my life is so much better for it. People come and go in my life. I don't regret the ones that go, and one reason is that I have had no trouble replacing them with more intelligent and loving beings, therby making my life richer than it ever was before.

 

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