Friday, January 15, 2010

Responding to hyphen-aversion

The most frequent reasoning I hear as to why hyphenated names are not viable, goes something like this:

Hyphenated names are impractical. Sure, it works for one generation; but what will your kids do? It doesn’t work after one generation! And, by the way, you think you’re being all cool and feminist, but really it’s still patriarchal cause the names obviously came from mom’s dad and dad’s dad. *Snicker*.

Ack. How aggravatingly na├»ve, condescending, and anti-feminist (anti-progress, really) to boot. Also, if I’m okay with the name I was given, why do you need to try to tear it down? It’s not your problem.

Anyways, with regard to point 1 (hyphenated names only work for 1 generation): Dude, trust your kids more than that! People are creative. A hyphenated name gives you more options to play with not less. I know people who grew up with the whole family having the father's name, people who grew up with only their mother having her name, people who grew up with hyphenated names, and some even more creative solutions. Now those same people are grown up and getting married. Some of them have kept their name, some have taken their husband's name, some have hyphenated, and some have created new / hybrid names. All of these are equally possibilities for people who start out with hyphenated names and those who do not. The difference is simply that those who grew up with hyphenated names generally thought more carefully about their choices, because they grew up knowing there was more than one possibility. Seriously, no matter what you name your kids, they'll figure out what to do with it when they grow up – whether or not you want them to.

Point 2 (mom’s name is really patriarchal too) really makes me want to yell. Set aside names for a moment -- is that really how you view the world? Is no progress possible on anything? So, what, because things were screwed up in the past I’m supposed to passively sit by and let that past dictate my future? I don’t think so! Yes, most last names are patriarchal. And yes, I can’t change the past. But I can change the future. And if my mother gave me her name, and if I pass it along, etc, that’s history in the making right there. The name doesn’t lose its past, but it does gain new layers of meaning and significance.

No comments: